Cheeky Fishing was founded in 2009 out of the Boston, MA apartments of Scott Caras, Peter Crommett, and Ted Upton. While Caras, Crommett and Upton were grinding on the business in Boston, Max Key headed up “Cheeky West” (as it was dubbed) in Denver, Colorado. As longtime friends and fishing buddies, the four of them founded Cheeky Fishing because they weren’t satisfied with fly fishing’s sometimes stuffy vibe, the unimaginative, bland look of products and the underwhelming performance of much of the available equipment.
With little money, but an innovative design, Cheeky Fishing began to push the envelop with obscenely large arbors and bright colors. Now colors on reels are commonplace, but you can thank Cheeky’s founders for that. It all began with the Mojo 425. Many innovations followed and Cheeky's quest to put a stop to overpriced, uninspired gear was in full swing.
From the beginning, Cheeky has believed in being inclusive and having fun. This is no more evident than the Cheeky Schoolie Tournament which started as soon as the company did and has grown into the world’s largest fly fishing tournament. Click here to learn more about Schoolie.
The learn more about the early years of Cheeky, visit here.
Coming of Age
Over the next few years, Cheeky developed an entire line of reels to fit into anyone’s angling experience. The company grew out of the founder’s apartment and into a Boston office. It also became clear that Cheeky was a different kind of fly fishing company, embracing its role as the equipment provider for the everyday angler. The product line grew to three lines of fly reels, pliers, and a range of accessories.
Utilizing the popularity of social media, Cheeky was able to connect to the growing youthful angling movement and become a favorite of those who didn’t tolerate the exclusive nature of fly fishing. Cheeky was on its way to being a voice for the new angler with edgy designs, an urban feel and commitment to conservation. The Schoolie tournament began to donate all proceeds to striped bass conservation becoming a strong voice for the quintessential American fish.
In 2019, Cheeky moved headquarters to Western Massachusetts, occupying a refurbished mill called the Norad Mill Building. As the company grew and added more employees, it also gave back to its community. In the fall of 2020, Cheeky instituted a program to give 1 pound of food to local food banks for every order coming in during the busy holiday shopping season. The company donated nearly 1,000 pounds of food to the Berkshire Food Project and The Missoula Food Bank.
Cheeky also continued to commit to the DIY angler and the waters they fish. The Schoolie Tournament reached new heights in 2020 and 2021, successfully navigating troubled times by making the Schoolie tournament distanced and virtual. This also allowed Cheeky to raise more than $36,000 in proceeds for partners including Keep Fish Wet, The American Saltwater Guides Association, and Stripers Forever. Cheeky also started its relationship with Science on the Fly, testing our local watersheds to determine not only their health but to catalogue the effects of climate change on fisheries.
The product line also continued to expand with a fourth level of reels to give an angler, no matter what they are fishing for or their level of ability, a product right for them. Today's impressive lineup includes the PreLoad reel that comes with backing, fly line and a leader already on the reel, the Tyro, the award-winning Launch and Cheeky's premier fly reel, Limitless. Leader, tippet and backing were also added to the menu along with artist designed apparel.
Cheeky continued to commit to the DIY angler and the waters they fish by telling their stories through a growing follower base on its social media channels. Through it all, the Cheeky voice continued to be ... well ... undeniably cheeky.
Cheeky is committed to continuing to push the performance, innovation and design of its products. Moving forward, you will continue to see more products from Cheeky in our quest to provide every angler with what they need on the water while always mindful of smart solutions and an inclusive demeanor. Our top-shelf customer service will continue to welcome your questions and help lead you to a great angling experience. Cheers to the road ahead.
At team Cheeky, we value a healthy workplace with camaraderie and fun, helping all the hard work take on greater meaning. We are fishing and outdoor nuts through and through, but we are always willing to take a moment to share what we know.