Reeling Hand [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Reeling Hand

Sean Juan
12-14-2007, 12:04 PM
Just wanted to get the board's opinion on a minor question that comes up for me from time to time.

If you are right handed, should you reel in with your left or your right hand?

I use my left hand because I'd rather have the rod in my better arm to fight the fish, also having done some spin fishing, my left hand is probably better at reeling in than my left.

On the other hand, occassionally when shooting line, the line will get caught on the reel handle - if the reel was set up for right hand retrieve this problem would be far far less. (I also tend to hold the rod Gangsta Style with the reel cocked to the side to elminate this.)

Would be easy enough to adjust to either situation and at the end of the day it probably doesn't much matter, but there is a lot of experience here and figured I'd tap it.

12-14-2007, 12:30 PM
I think greater than 50% of the "experts" say that you should use your dominant hand to reel for any big game species. Personally, I believe just the opposite. In my experience I find I use the dexterity and strength of my dominant arm to lift and control the fish as well as trap the fly line for extra drag control at the end of the battle. I don't get that fatigued reeling with my left (non-dominant hand). If you are getting the running line caught on your reel handle when shooting with a single hand rod (no signaficant experience with 2 handers) it would seem to me that you should focus on feeding the line through your stripping hand after the haul and that should solve that issue as well as help you control your fly placement and be ready to strip on impact with the water.

My $.02.


12-14-2007, 12:55 PM
I am right handed.
I cast with my right hand and reel with my right hand.
When a fish is running I hold the rod in my right hand and when I reel in I change hands and hold with left and reel with right.

12-14-2007, 01:02 PM
When a fish is running I hold the rod in my right hand and when I reel in I change hands and hold with left and reel with right.

IME if you do that with a tuna or other bluewater fish under the boat you will loose inches if not feet/yards every time and add significant time to the battle. Not nearly the same issue with flats species and thus I don't think it matters much in that case.


12-14-2007, 01:16 PM
I am right handed & I reel with my left. I tried it the other way for a while & found my left arm gets tired faster & it just seems unnatural to me to reel with my right.

Sean Juan
12-14-2007, 02:30 PM
With the single hander its easy enough to make that finger guide when shooting the line, with the two hander I usually just let it go as it flies from the basket. Most of the time it isn't an issue, but once or twice a trip (most often when I'm holding the line with the bottom hand for a firmer grip) it will catch the reel handle.


I'm pretty sure any one of the tuna you've caught required more reeling than every fish I've ever had on - so if the left hand is good enough for you its good enough for me.


Arm fatigue is something I hadn't considered - especially if you are bluefishing for a day and catch a whole mess of fish - may be better to hold the rod with the left and cast with the right - share the load.

Is it spring yet?

12-14-2007, 02:56 PM
You are witnessing a dilemna that has been discussed ad infinitum. There is no right answer. Lefty Kreh will tell you to reel with your dominant hand. His rationale is that reeling on a long-running fish requires maximum strength, and the dominant hand usually possesses it.

I'm left-handed and reel with my right hand. It has nothing to do with strength. I learned to fish with a baitcasting rod/reel. The handle on that type of reel was on the right. I've tried reeling with my left hand when I cast right-handed; but its awkward.

My gut tells me it makes sense to reel with the non-rod hand so you are not switching hands - efficiency of motion. Incidentally, my two sons are both right-handed, one reels with the left and the other with his right. Go figure.

12-14-2007, 03:04 PM
Reel on top of the rod as with a conventional reel, reel with the dominant hand. Spin and fly with reels below the rod use the other hand..

12-14-2007, 03:47 PM
This is a good winter thread; it ought to be good for at least 25-30 posts. I cast right and reel left for the dominant hand being the connection to the fish. When a fish doubles back on me, I stick the rod tip underwater if I'm where I can. This helps ensure the fish pulls a bow of line, and is usually plenty of pressure to keep a set.

Mike Oliver
12-14-2007, 04:19 PM

You have gone and opened up that old can of worms. LOL This debate has been going on for longer than who puts out the garbage at night. Seriously it does not matter what others think or prescribe on this matter which can get seriously hotly debated. All that matters is that you do what works for you. You are not going to change any polerised views and equaly no one is going to change yours. Trust me I can think of no other aspect as this that is more dogmatic or heavier polerised.

12-14-2007, 04:25 PM
I've tried both. Learning how to fly fish on my Dad's rods and reel, I did the right hand cast, right had reel. As I began to acquire my own gear I felt more comfortable reeling with my non-dominant hand. As Sean said, I really like to have my stronger, more dexterous arm doing the fighting of the fish. I don't find it's reeling that is the hard part, but control of the rod and line.

But my little brother, as Dad previously mentioned, prefers right hand casting and right hand reeling. But, he's usually wrong anyway. :chuckle:


12-14-2007, 05:05 PM
When I one-hand cast it is always off my right side and reel with left as I feel I have much better "rod control/touch" with my right hand/arm than with left when I am lucky enough to have a tight line . Two-hand overheading I reel left handed, regardless of which hand is "up" in the cast. Interestingly enough this has made me think about where I put rod as I "2-hand strip" and it is always under my right armpit and when fighting fish, always with right arm controlling rod.

12-14-2007, 06:04 PM
I grew up fishing with spinning gear so it is just "normal" for me to cast right and reel left, so that's how I do it for flyfishing too. I have considered switching over to right-hand retrieve because of having the line catch on the reel handle, but then I realized that the reel handle is just one of the 27,310 things that my line seems to get caught on when I cast :hihi: .

The only times I've used baitcasting gear were for ocean fishing, and when I fought the fish it seemed very awkward for me to hold the rod with my left hand and reel with my right. I guess if you do it all the time then it becomes normal, and for that type of fishing it probably is better to reel with your dominant hand. For actually casting and retrieving with baitcasting gear, it seems odd to me that you would cast with one hand and then switch hands before you start reeling :confused: . I think I'd just set up the reel for left-hand retrieve.


12-14-2007, 06:48 PM
Is there a genetic biologist in the house? Jim S casts with either hand equally well....thanks to a heck of a lot of practice and committment. Genetically it is obvious that one offspring went left, the other right (or wrong in Chris' opinion):) I have seen Jim switch dependent on wind direction, which allows him to consistently make proper presentations, not to mention gaining "clouser in the head" protection. So......the obvious answer is....learn to cast with both hands.
I for one, cast right handed because it's comfortable......but maybe comfort and preference shouldn't be the goal:smokin:

12-14-2007, 06:50 PM
I'm, somewhat ambidexterus (sp?). Hookshot is much better lefty, jump shot, righty. Open tough jars with my left, finesse stuff I tend to do with the right. Bottom line, I'm not sure what my dominant hand is. I reel left because it's easyer. As I understand it reeling with your dominant hand allows faster line pickup when fast running fish turn and run toward you. Haven't had to deal with that problem too much. My guess is that if you are used to reeling with the "non dominant" hand that's the one that'll work best for you.

I say, if it feels good do it.

12-14-2007, 09:08 PM
In keeping with the new more gentel and compassonate me I must say, "Who gives a s,,,,!

12-14-2007, 10:44 PM
Reeling in the fish....what a novel idea! And all this time I've just been using the reel to hold the line when I wasn't fishing....and "stripping" in every fish I hooked...might explain all the line burns on my fingers at the end of the day:lildevl:

12-15-2007, 05:45 AM
I learned that when a strong fish hits the fly and takes off its best to have the reel handle on the outside. It doesn't get caught up in clothing etc. Then when the fish has slowed down change hands.

12-15-2007, 08:14 AM
Just to add another datum:
I'm right handed, cast right, reel left. Strip with rod under right arm. For adverse wind I cast over the left shoulder, which quickly becomes tiring. I manage to get the line caught on the reel, rod butt, reel handle and lots of other places too frequently. Every once in a while that results in a breakoff and lost fish, so I can kick myself for being inept. I've tried casting left-handed, with no success.
With a spin rod I cast right and reel left. With a bait casting rod, which I have not used for years and years, it was cast right and reel right.
I agree with the thought that one should do whatever feels good.

12-15-2007, 08:19 AM
In keeping with the new more gentel and compassonate me I must say, "Who gives a s,,,,!

Steve you are such a word smith :hihi: Actually I thought the same thing at first, but I figured , What The hay, there is nothing else to do, might as well join in on the fun:D

To borrow a phrase from a Cape Cod legend, Is it spring yet? :biggrin:

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