What's an "affordable" fly reel to you? $100? $300? As prices of the most premium offerings nudges close to and even exceeds a thousand bucks in some cases, we fly anglers are fortunate that some very nice options can be had at much friendlier prices. Case in point: Cheeky Fishing's new TYRO series. With all models running under $150, these reels are said to deliver some strong performance and value. While I never expect too much out of a value-driven reel, would these truly perform? It was time to find out....
Line Size: 7/8
Weight: 5.6 ounces
Diameter: 3.75 inches
Width: 1.2 inches
Backing Capacity (20 pound):
WF7F / 240 yards
WF8F / 220 yards
Drag: Carbon Fiber (not fully sealed)
Tested Max Drag: Just under 4 pounds
Machined/Cast: Cast frame/spool (machined foot, drag knob, and center cap)
Easy Release Spool: Yes
R/L Conversion: Yes
Colors: Black/Orange machined accents
Reel Pouch: Yes
Spare Spool Available: Yes ($69)
Reel Price: $149.00
I received a TYRO 375 from Cheeky which is equipped to handle 7 and 8 weight lines. Like many fly reels on the lower end of the pricing spectrum, it sports a frame and spool that's cast rather than machined. Cast reels are typically not as durable as those that are machined, but if you don't habitually drop or bang your gear around harshly you may never know the difference.
As an added bonus, however, Cheeky does equip each TYRO with a machined orange drag knob, reel foot, and center cap. Most of the cast and machined parts all passed the "eyeball test" as far as quality goes, but the inside of the frame (out of sight unless the spool is removed) wasn't super refined. All in all, this is a nicely-presented reel and a light one too, weighing just 5.6 ounces.
In my opinion, one of the strongest selling points of this reel is the drag system. While it's not 100% fully sealed, it does function with smoothness that's straight up impressive. Whether I chose a modest setting or jammed the drag knob down at full lock, line pulls off the spool extremely smoothly with zero startup inertia to be detected. Tested drag strength is a little on the weak side at approximately just shy of 4 pounds, but that's still totally capable for most normal scenarios. The drag sound is a muted click that's nice enough but will likely be too quiet for those anglers that really like hearing their drag scream.
The rear drag knob is of about average size and has a notched circumference for added grip. I'd like to see its surface a little "grippier" for times when hands are wet/slimy, but it's totally adequate as is. The knob turns from zero to full drag in nearly three full revolutions, with light detents to be felt throughout the range.
While the drag emits a clicking sound, reeling the TYRO produces no sound at all. The reel's dimensions don't provide for an abnormally high retrieval speed, but reeling is absolutely butter smooth and feels solid. I really like that Cheeky put a relatively meaty handle on this reel. Its beefed-up size, taper, texture, and soft touch promotes confidence and is really pleasing to use—it's just right! Also of note, the spool is free enough that it'll spin several revolutions when smacked for fast line pickup.
Spool removal is a cinch—just push the little lever and pull the spool right off. The lever does kind of poke my finger a bit when using it, but it's something I can deal with for those one or two seconds when the spool is removed. When putting the spool back on, it clicks together with the frame without any drama....simple!
For the ultimate in convenience and value, TYRO reels are also available in a Triple Play Package. Available for any of the three TYRO models, this package includes the reel, two spare spools, and a Fishpond Sweetwater Reel Case at prices spanning from just $205–$235!
This reel exceeded my expectations. Not only is it attractive and put together well, but the sheer smoothness and refined performance at this price point was legitimately impressive. The TYRO 375's combination of quality and affordability made such an impression that it's now taking top honors as our very latest #FlyGearTopPick in the reel category! Well done, Cheeky Fishing!
Looking for a Cheeky TYRO fly reel?
Try Trouts Fly Fishing