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Right Hand or Left Hand?

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Back in the early days of fly fishing right up until just a few years ago, almost everyone who fly fished whether they were right handed or left handed used reels that were made to be wound with the right hand. As this was (and is) how bait casting and spin casting reels are set up, it made pretty good sense. Open faced spinning reels became popular and spinning rods (were and are) cast with the right hand (if right handed of course) and the spinning reel is reeled with the left hand.

 

I started fishing in the early 60's with an open faced spinning reel. When I started fly fishing, I found it very difficult (and still do) to switch hands and wind the fly reel with my right hand. Winding the fly reel with my left hand just seemed more natural and easier for me. I now collect and use vintage fly reels. Many of them are set up to be reeled with the right hand. Some of them can be converted over to left hand wind and some of them cannot. Then there are many that can be wound with either hand with little or no conversion work necessary. If I acquire a reel that is locked in at right hand wind and cannot be converted to LHW, I get rid of it. From years of collecting experience, I have learned which model of a particular make that cannot be converted and I avoid those. Once in a while I run across a reel I am not familiar with and I take a chance on it. Then there is the case of two reels the of the same model of the same make and one can be converted and one cannot. Why? Different years of manufacture. Sometimes features are changed and model numbers are not.

 

With all of that said, if you are still with me, which do you prefer; LHW or RHW?

Joe

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All of my spinning reel have the handle on the left. I cast and work the rod with my right hand ... so ... left hand does the reeling.

 

All of my bait casters have the handle on the right. I cast with my right hand, which requires a hold on the grip, thumb on the spool. Then I transfer the rod to my left hand, with my palm cupping the reel. This puts the handle in my right hand, left hand working the rod.

 

I swing my fly rod with my right hand. Since the reel is only a line holder, and I don't use it for fighting a fish, I don't think it would matter which side the handle is on. But I've always had them on the left hand side, so I reckon I always will.

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all of my fly rods are set up for right hand casting while all of my fly reels are set up for left hand winding

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This topic has been around for years and years.. In the salt, years ago, most of us went with the maxim that you wound your reel with your strong hand since you might just need all the help you can get with a big strong fish that cleans off one or two hundred yards of line then does an about face and comes screaming back towards you - on that first run... and fly reels are not exactly quick to retrieve line... When it came to teaching beginners I found myself preaching that line - and always pointed out that if I handed you a new reel and a big spool of backing... "which hand do you want to fill that reel with?"....

 

Over the years, with more and more anglers showing up fully accustomed to winding with their weak hand... I had to admit that handing them a reel that had the handle where they weren't used to using it... wasn't a great benefit at all. I was finally able to solve that minor problem a year or two ago when I realized that I actually did have two reels for every size rod that I keep on hand (7wt up to a 12wt..) one that wound left handed another that wound right handed... So....

 

One of the questions I ask a client is... what hand do you wind with - and that's how I set up my rods when I know in advance that I'm fishing fly that booking (guys like me consider fly fishing as just one more way to go about things... if I only fished fly anglers.... I'd starve...). Not something I'm supposed to say on a fly forum, but truthful...

 

My best guess is that anglers will still be arguing about this question long after I'm gone.

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I am left handed, and the way fly reels were set up when I started was just right for my preference. I cast left handed, but I have learned to cast with the right hand. I usually tie left handed (and wrap backwards,) but can also tie right handed.

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All of my fly reels are set up to reel left handed, as are my spinning reels. I haven't used a casting reel since I moved to CO in the 70s, but when I did use them I cast with the right, switched hands and reeled right handed. With Tenkara, there is no reel but I cast right handed.

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Mike, you're right - it is a preference... You should see some the battles on saltwater sites over this piece of trivia... Y'all here are downright civilized by comparison.... I like it !

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I am right handed and I wind with my left hand. All my fly reels are "wind with left hand". I started fly fishing about 1989/1990 and honestly I have hardly ever seen a fly reel that came right hand wind unless you specifically buy it because you're a left handed person. Maybe the right hand wind was before my time or something?

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I'm a little backwards. Cast right handed, switch hands, retrieve right handed. It's the way I started and not about to change at my age. I did however give LHR a chance last year - and I was clumsy as a cub bear.

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Like approximately 90% of humans, I am right-hand dominant. Just as a point of interest, right- or left-"handedness" exists on a spectrum, with some people being more strongly left- or right-dominant, and some being more ambidextrous than others. Myself, I am very strongly RH dominant. Any one-handed activity that requires any strength or dexterity at all, I need to do it with my right hand if possible.

 

In fly fishing, it seems to me that you'd want your strongest hand working the rod--the tool that does your casting and fish-fighting--and not your reel (which, for so many of us, is simply a line storage device). Granted, with spinning and casting rods, the reel plays a more crucial role, but, even so, I still want my dominant hand on the rod, not the reel. That's why I have always made sure all of my reels (fly, spinning, and casting) were left-hand wind.

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I'm a little backwards. Cast right handed, switch hands, retrieve right handed. It's the way I started and not about to change at my age. I did however give LHR a chance last year - and I was clumsy as a cub bear.

 

Too funny. I use to have a fishing buddy that was like that. he would cast with his right hand, then switch the rod to his left. First time I saw him do that I just looked at him and said "what in the world are you doing?" laugh.png

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I am right handed and I wind with my left hand. All my fly reels are "wind with left hand". I started fly fishing about 1989/1990 and honestly I have hardly ever seen a fly reel that came right hand wind unless you specifically buy it because you're a left handed person. Maybe the right hand wind was before my time or something?

 

You are correct. 99% of reels come left hand retrieve. I know this because I always have to pay attention to make sure it can be changed for me :)

 

Good thing is most reels are easy to change.

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I'm, relatively, ambidextrous. My Wife says she isn't "right hand dominant" ... she's "left hand retarded." She even has a hard time stirring her coffee with her left hand.

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