ICAST 2021: Cubalaya Outfitters
Updated: Jun 30, 2022
Click pawl reels. Simple, lightweight, dependable, and only good for smaller fish like trout and panfish...or are they? At ICAST this year, I discovered there is one company out to change that way of thinking. Although most of my work at the show covered the latest conventional tackle for TackleTour.com, I stumbled upon a new company called Cubalaya Outfitters, which makes click fly reels geared towards saltwater fishing. Yep, you read that right!
Much like the resurgence in fiberglass rods, click-pawl reels have been gaining more momentum in recent years. Not only have some new reel models in this segment been introduced, but larger sizes have also hit the scene, which indicates to me a broader interest in using them for stouter game like big trout and steelhead. However, I have seen or heard almost nothing about using click reels in saltwater. It looks like Cubalaya is pouncing on a nice little opportunity here!
Their fly reel, called the Fair Chase, is crafted in Chicago, Illinois, from materials such as 6061 T6 aluminum and 316L stainless. Looking and feeling quite robust in person, they seem ready for legit saltwater action, whether that means schoolie stripers or massive tarpon. Most drag pressure on click pawl reels is provided and controlled by the angler, so Cubalaya crafted these reels with thick palming rims for maximum angler input.
A unique design feature is the two cranking knobs, which I'm used to seeing on salmon mooching reels. The reason for twin handles is for better spool balance and for the user to transition instantly from applying finger/palm pressure to reeling. With two handles available, it just makes everything a little more efficient.
These reels are available now at cubalayaoutfitters.com in two sizes, including a 6–8 weight ($695) and a 9–12 weight ($875). Each reel is R/L hand convertible and comes with spare springs and a pouch. Also, the 9–12 model includes a foam-lined hard case. So, if you're intrigued by an even more raw and interactive saltwater fly fishing experience, Fair Chase reels look like just the ticket!