Review | The Chief by CLYW

The Chief is not a title to be thrown around carelessly. The highest enlisted rank in the US Air Force and Navy is commonly referred to as Chief. In Civil Services, the Chief of Police and Fire Chiefs are the department heads. Historically, the Chief of the Name is the head of a family or clan. Corporate executive heads hold the title Chief, as in Chief executive officer (CEO). Even the President of the United States is the Commander-in-Chief. The title Chief is a badge of honor and respect that is not easy to come by and is rarely given. It can also be a term of endearment or a mascot. Most commonly, though, the term Chief is used for someone who has achieved the top of their ladder, be it business, military, or lineage. CLYW’s latest “Return Top” is also called the Chief, and by all accounts thus far has completely earned that title.

First Impressions:

I love the art that CLYW puts on the sides of their boxes. With the simple brown box becoming so common for yo-yo manufacturers, it is good to see CLYW package their return tops in packaging that matches the product’s character. The box art that adorns the Chief packaging tells a story that emotionally engages the buyer. No matter how many trades I do, if a CLYW product is involved, one of the parties will inevitably ask if the box is included.
The yo-yo itself is a marvel to look at. The dual lip design is unlike anything I have ever seen before. The engineer locked away deep in the basement of my brain suddenly woke up and rushed to my eyeballs, shouting things like, “TESLAWORTHYWEIGHTPLACMENT” and “THISBELONGSINAMUSEUM”. I know that splash colorways are all the rage these days, but there is something to be said about a muted, monochromatic look that emphasizes the seriousness of a product. As much as this return top is designed with play in mind, you can’t help but look at it and feel the serious design, engineering, and thought behind it. It is not a toy, and you can see that right away.

Comfort and Tech:

Weight (g) 64.9
Diameter (mm) 56.55
Width (mm) 44.55

The FIRST, FIRST, FIRST, thing I want to talk about, scream at the top of my lungs about, and give thanks to all things good and special about is the inner lip of the Chief. This is wizard voodoo Hogwarts magic right here, folks. I don’t know how Caribou Chris came up with this but it is effectively a yo-yo inside of a yo-yo. Hear me out. In my experience, the further the weight of a yo-yo is out on the rim, the heavier and faster it will feel. The closer the weight is to the core, the more maneuverable and floaty a yo-yo will feel. Many yo-yos overdo one or the other. I think this is why more and more manufacturers are placing the weight at the halfway point of the catch zone. You get the benefit of a fast rim weight throw with the maneuverability and floatyness of a core weight throw. Now if you were to talk to me for more than 30 seconds about design manufacturing and metrics of engineering you will figure out that I don’t know much if anything about it, but from a outside perspective and the knowledge of my colleagues in the yo-yo world, it seems that this is the case. Instead of putting a massive weight ring at the outer edge or a thick inner wall, the Chief extends the inner wall from the point that most manufacturers would start the weight ring. It is as if there is an undersized yo-yo inside the cup with a thin, yet effective outer rim extending the diameter and width. Genius.
CLYW uses a standard C size bearing and response pads they call Snow Tires. The response system is pretty close to their old silicone groove, and looks like it could accept a few third party pads or flowable silicone. The groove is pretty deep, so I would say flowable silicone is the way to go if you find yourself looking for a new response system. The bearing seat is pretty standard, and has a moderately deep well around the seat post. One thing that I really appreciate is that CLYW has kept the axle post. A lot of manufacturers are shrinking the length of the axle post and that makes me “Axle Strip” nervous. If for no other reason than piece of mind, the longer axle is appreciated.
I have giant skull crushing hands. Popcorn comes in four sizes, Small, Medium, Large, and My Hands. My hands are so big, my thumb has an elevator from the nail to the knuckle. If I were to ever high five with another large handed yoyoer, it could damage the fabric of space time. That being said, I found the full size body of the Chief to be extremely comfortable. There are no hard corners to threaten your knuckles, and the wide body hits the hand well even after really fast binds.
Weight is something that is going to vary a bit. There are two main runs of the Chief: one run made in Canada with a 64.9 gram weight, and one made in the US with a 66 gram weight. I have the Canadian version and from talking to Chris, the next US run will have the same weight as the Canadian run (64.9 grams). These should be hitting stores pretty soon.

On a Throw:

There are many simple joys in life. The cool side of a pillow on hot nights. The smell after the first rain of the season. Pulling on a brand new pair of cotton socks. The first stretch of the morning after a good night’s sleep. And now, throwing the Chief. It is hard to describe really the incredible feel this Canadian Return Top has on a long hard throw. It feels like…washing your face in the morning or the sensation of goosebumps up your spine when you hear a certain part of a really good song. If you were to hook me up to enough brain machinery, I am sure that you would find that when throwing the Chief, there is an increased level of dopamine being generated in my brain. I really really like this yo-yo. It could be the best CLYW yo-yo I have ever had the pleasure of throwing.
I found the Chief to be incredibly stable on long throws and frighteningly sturdy through both tight configuration tricks and big movement tricks. I would not classify the Chief as floaty, but not as solid either. It is one of those rare mixes that have elements of each without compromise. On hops and transitions, the Chief effortlessly landed and maneuvered itself into a string segment with nary a second thought. The Chief has a clean gyro, and when pushed to a tilt manually, stays there. The 44 mm width made a great target for landing whips and when combined with the soft finish, a fantastic platform for long sustainable grinds.
The Chief was free from vibration or errant wobble, and to my supreme joy, a master of clean regens. My grandfather who always told me to measure twice and cut once also emphasized using the right tool for the job. If yo-yoing is a job, this is the right tool.

Final Thoughts:

This yo-yo makes me feel like I am a good yoyoer. Like when, as a kid, you put on a new pair of shoes and are positive that you can run faster and jump higher. That’s how it feels. The second I saw the Chief online I knew it was going to be a special throw. The second I got it in my hands, I knew that it would elicit an emotional response. The second I got to throw it, I had goosebumps. I know that my detractors will say I like every yo-yo I come across. Not true. While I write to highlight the best about a product, it is a rare that a yo-yo evokes a physical emotional response from me. The Chief did this for me.
The price point may be a bit hard to swallow for some, but you have to realize the engineering and time that goes into the creation of this product. The tools and expertise needed to pull off the outer ring / inner ring combo must be weighed in mountains. I cannot express to my readers enough on this one. This “Return Top” at $135 is a zero risk purchase.

Written by Chris “Dr. Yo-Yo” Allen, who once popped his knuckles, setting off car alarms.
Edited by Dustin “Splugen” Gunter, who is a level 15 Wizard Voodoo Hogwarts Magician.

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Chris "Dr. Yo-Yo" Allen is the creator and founder of He has been yoyoing for over 25 years and has a passion for the industry.

'Review | The Chief by CLYW' have 7 comments

  1. February 11, 2012 @ 11:10 pm Tony Dang

    I’m looking forward to get a nice simple plain Blue Chief. Have a CLYW in my collection for trial purposes and to know this is one of the best you can get- Can I just say my hand are huge?! Probably the biggest than anyone in the world. If I high five annyone it would mean the end of the Universe ;O]


  2. January 11, 2012 @ 6:37 pm TheJoshinator

    Wow… I think I may have to get one. In the four years I’ve been yoyoing, I’ve never owned a CLYW throw.

    And Chris, I hope I never high-five you… I have monster hands myself, and we might merge into a black hole of giant-handedness that would absorb the entire galaxy! Yoyoing itself would cease to exist… XD


  3. January 11, 2012 @ 12:51 pm Ryan

    Honestly, the Chief is the best yoyo I have ever thrown. I’ve owned both the lighter Chief and still have a heavier Chief. They are both incredibly fantastic and reading this review makes me want to get a lighter Chief again, since I got rid of the previous one I had. As Chris has already said, the design is stunning to say the least. And the play creates a unique feel of a smooth and light yoyo combined with a nearly unparalleled stability. The heavier Chief to me feels about the same, but moves with a bit more decisiveness than the lighter Chief. Both are fantastic, though, and I’ll probably buy another light Chief at some point. Great review.


  4. January 11, 2012 @ 7:49 am YoAaronD

    Great review. Love your comparison with being a kid and getting a new pair of kicks. I felt exactly the same way. I still feel the same way and I’ve had my Chiefs for long enough for that feeling to wear off.


  5. January 11, 2012 @ 1:01 am Adam

    I definately agree with your review Chris and i enjoy reading it very much ^^ I have the dragon chief as a symbol of the year of the dragon. You sir, have broaden my knowledge on CLYW yoyos ^^ Thanks !


  6. January 10, 2012 @ 8:27 pm Mo

    So…. Do you like it?


  7. January 10, 2012 @ 7:46 pm chris

    44mm gap? That’s like a huge diablo. 😉


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