On the Water: Cheeky Sighter Fly Reel Review

Last updated on January 13th, 2024.

Christian Anwander
Latest posts by Christian Anwander (see all)

There are plenty of options out there when you’re on the lookout for a new fly reel. If you’re after excellent value for money, check out the Cheeky Sighter Fly Reel.

Before I’ll get into the nitty gritty of what makes the Sighter fly reel a good choice for many anglers, I want to give you a quick intro on Cheeky as a brand. Some of you might have come across them before, most likely, as was the case for me, in the context of the Schoolie tournament. Born out of the team’s love for striped bass conservation, this yearly event has turned into one of the fly fishing highlights of many anglers in the Boston area. The idea behind the tournament is to support multiple organisations that work in conserving the stocks of stripers along the East coast such as Keep Fish Wet, Stripers Forever and the American Saltwater Guide Assocation.

The team at Cheeks set out more than a decade ago to produce affordable products with a good quality and a modern, edgy design. Besides fly reels, the company nowadays also produces leaders, tippet material and backing.

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Specs and Features of the Sighter

Cheeky Sighter 425 Fly Reel and Atlas Signature Fly Rod
We got the Sighter in size 425 (#8/9) – pictured above – out for some saltwater striper fishing around New York City and paired it with the Atlas Signature Fly Rod (pictured above as well). Photo: Christian Anwander


Sizes available: 300 (#2-3), 350 (#4-5), 375(#6-7) and 425 (#8/9)

Drag System: Carbon

Fully caged frame design

Convertible from left to right hand retrieve

Price: $169 (300) – $199 (425)

Design and Style: Colorful Craftsmanship

Cheeky Sighter 425 Fly Reel and Atlas Signature Fly Rod 7
We took the 425 (#8/9) out to test. In that size it comes with a black and blue design. Photo: Christian Anwander

The first thing that catches your eye when you lay your hands on the Sighter 425 is the bright blue color on the one hand of the reel. Each weight class of this reel features another color design which makes them easy to tell apart.

Albie Closeup
False albacore are a great species to target with the Cheeky Sighter 425 fly reel. Photo: Christian Anwander

Size and Weight: A Balancing Act

Cheeky Sighter 425 Fly Reel and Atlas Signature Fly Rod 2
The Cheeky Sighter 425 fly reel features a diameter of 4.25 inches. Photo: Christian Anwander

The reel features a classic design that is still surprisingly light at 7.9 oz. Its diameter of 4.25 inches means it can hold single hand lines just as well as spey lines making it a very versatile choice that also works well as a light salmon reel.

Performance on the Water

Cheeky Sighter 425 Fly Reel and Atlas Signature Fly Rod 5
The Sighter comes in a beautiful blue and black finish (in the 425 version). Photo: Christian Anwander

When Cheeky made the 425 however, they certainly had their bread and butter fish in mind, the stripers. That is because the Sighter features a high quality carbon drag that you can really crank up to stop the runs of striped bass or false albacore (if you’ve hooked one of these in the open water, you know what I mean).

The 425 version also works great for all sorts of freshwater predators such as pike or musky that require a lot of breaking power. With its big diameter and low weight (7.9 oz) you can also use the Sighter for a euro nymping setup where you need a good balance between your rod and reel.

Cheeky Sighter 425 Fly Reel and Atlas Signature Fly Rod 1
The Sighter 425 is a very versatile reel. Photo: Christian Anwander

Easy to Handle

Standouts for me, besides the Cheeky drag system, were the quick change spool which can make a difference if you swiftly need to adapt to changing conditions when out on the water. Fish might be feeding on the surface and you target them with a floating line, whereas only moments later they might be looking for bait a few feet down in the water column. That’s when the Sighter shines as you can quickly change your setup.

The same goes for the quick change from left to right hand retrieve and vice versa. In real life this means that you can bring the reel for a fishing friend without even knowing whether he or she retrieves with the right or left hand.

Cheeky Sighter 425 Fly Reel
The Sighter can easily be changed from left to right hand retrieve. Photo: Christian Anwander.

Worth Mentioning

Another characteristic of the Sighter 425 worth mentioning in my eyes, is the fact that this reel features a silent retrieve. That means if you’re looking for a reel to accompagny the runs of a striper or albie with a screeming sound, the Sighter is not for you.

Cheeky Sighter fly reel review
Cheeky Sighter fly reel review. Photo: Christian Anwander

Pros and Cons of the Sighter Series


Fresh, modern looks

Excellent drag systems (that’s hard to find in this price range)

Highly versatile reel

Easy retrieve conversion


Scratches and dings show easily on the aluminum (which is hard to prevent if you fish hard and also doensn’t harm the performance in any way)

A #10/11 reel would be a nice addition to the lineup

Conclusion: A lot of Bang for your Buck

I admit it, I am a fan of the Cheeky sighter fly reel. At less than $200 (even for the 425) you get exceptional quality at a low price. I also like the fresh and modern design and high versatilty of this fly reel. Plus, one thing you shouldn’t underestimate: Cheeky is still a small and personal brand and they offer exceptional customer support.




Frequently Asked Questions: Cheeky Sighter Fly Reel

What is the Cheeky Sighter 425 Fly Reel designed for?

The Cheeky Sighter 425 Fly Reel is specifically designed for saltwater fly fishing applications. It’s engineered to handle the demands of targeting powerful and large saltwater species.

What makes the Cheeky Sighter 425 suitable for saltwater use?

The reel is constructed with materials and features that resist corrosion from saltwater exposure. It typically includes a sealed drag system to prevent salt and debris from affecting the performance of the reel in harsh marine environments.

What is the line capacity of the Cheeky Sighter 425 Fly Reel?

The Cheeky Sighter 425 is designed to accommodate larger fly lines commonly used in saltwater fly fishing. Backing capacity (#20) is 320y for #8 and 300y for #9.

What are the key features of the Cheeky Sighter 425 Fly Reel?

The Cheeky Sighter 425 often features a large arbor design for quick line retrieval, a robust drag system for handling powerful fish, and a lightweight yet durable construction. Specific details on materials, drag type, and other features can be found in the reel’s product description.