June 7, 2011

Fly-fishing stuff for the non-stuffy

A group with Maine ties is giving the fly-fishing scene some energy with a line of colorful gear.

By J. Hemmerdinger jhemmerdinger@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Cheeky Fly Fishing partners Peter Crommett, Ted Upton, Scott Caras and Max Key take a break from testing a prototype of their new fly reel in the Florida Keys.

Photos courtesy ofCheeky Fly Fishing

click image to enlarge

Cheeky’s first reel, the Mojo 425, above, went on sale May 17. The $690 Mojo is designed for saltwater fish such as striped bass, redfish and bonefish. A freshwater model – the Ambush 375 reel – is expected to be on sale by August.

The website of the reel manufacturer Hatch says that company's focus is on providing "the most stylish, high performance fly-fishing reels on the market today."

"We were told anglers didn't want so many color or style choices – they were wrong," the site says.

Cheeky's reels are made from lightweight materials like stainless steel, aluminum and titanium, and have drag systems made of carbon fiber, according to the website. The reels are made at the Custom Group machine shop in Woburn, Mass.

The partners left full-time jobs to launch the company. Key and Crommett worked at Wells Fargo and Boston's Brown Brothers Harriman, respectively. Upton worked at the Mintz Levin law firm and a nonprofit philanthropic group; Caras was a consultant for Deloitte.

Upton said the company has been "self-funded" by the partners and operates with a "rigid budget."

"We have bootstrapped ourselves and done a good job of using the resources we have," he said.

He declined to disclose revenue, but said Cheeky earned "close to $10,000" on its second day of sales and is selling "several reels daily" to customers nationwide.

The company hopes to sell 8,000 to 10,000 reels yearly in five or six years.

When Upton and Caras were about 20, they helped launch Cape Catch in Cape Elizabeth, selling shirts, hats and tote bags with a lobster logo.

Upton said he and the Cheeky crew have fished most of their lives -- across the United States and even in Russia.

"We wanted to be involved in an industry we were passionate about. We grew up as die-hard fly fishermen," he said.


Staff Writer Jonathan Hemmerdinger can be contacted at 791-6316 or at: jhemmerdinger@mainetoday.com


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