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Should I Use a Right or Left Handed Baitcasting Reel?

by Tom Melton 29 Jul 2022

Smaller revolving spool reels, i.e. larger baitcasters were built with the angler's power arm in mind. The question of whether to use a right or left handed baitcasting reel these days however comes up quite often. Why would I want to reel my spinning reel with one hand and my baitcaster with the other? First off, for years, left handed baitcasters were not available on most reels! Let's dive into why we always used right handed baitcasters, and why in today's era, left handed baitcasting reels have become more popular… by some anglers. If you are a true left handed angler, then a left handed reel makes perfectly good sense.

What Does Power Have To Do With It?

For years, power had a lot to do with what side of the reel your handle was on. The first baitcasters out there were built to utilize the power of an anglers arm. In baitcasters, typically your power arm was always said to be the arm you reeled with on a baitcaster. On a spinning reel, your power arm would be on the rod for lifting, whereas your reel would be reeled in with your weaker arm. This is why most spinning reels were left handed, and most baitcasting reels were right handed. Left handed baitcasting reels for the most part were non-existent.   

This is one of my favorite rod and reel combos.(KastKing Perigee II Fishing Rods & Kastking Zephyr Bait Finesse Casting Reel)

Left handed baitcasting reel

When you use a baitcasting reel, typically power is generated at the reel handle. As this was the case, or what earlier reel manufacturers felt, almost all baitcasters only came in right handed models. 

Why Use A Different Hand? 

Some anglers will always insist that it makes absolutely no sense to use your left hand for spinning reels and your right hand for baitcasters. In their mind it is just plain "wrong." 

My life-long buddy, and fishing partner, Rick Holmberg says, "I always used left handed baitcasters. I never could understand why I would want to cast right handed, meaning over my right shoulder, then have to switch how I hold the rod. And, besides, I want my reel handles on the same side for both baitcasting reels and spinning reels."

Left handed baitcasting reel for left handed angler

If you are a true left handed angler, then you are probably already using a spinning reel with the handle on the right side of the reel as you would cast over your left shoulder. If this is the case, would you use a right handed baitcasting reel of a left handed one? Sense would say a right handed one to keep the reel handle on the right side and you could still cast over your left shoulder. If this is the case, then utilizing what typically is the power to determine your reel or rod grip placement would be irrelevant. 

It's A Whole New World 

In today's world, the choice is wide open as every major reel manufacturer offers baitcasting reels in left handed models. There is another component that makes for using a left handed baitcasting reel and that is the technology behind the newer rods. These rods can give you enough power to hold the rod with your weak arm and still generate what is needed to best a tough fish. With this in mind, a typical right handed angler could easily exert enough power using a left handed bait casting reel. 

With the new left handed bait casting reels available in virtually all size reels, anglers can now cast right handed and keep the rod and hand positions ready to reel without changing sides. However, before you go out there and throw away all of your right handed baitcasting reels, make sure the left handed version is really for you. 

In Conclusion 

There is another aspect of whether to use a right or left handed baitcasting reel. In the case of myself, I am 63 years old, and have been fishing right handed baitcasting reels my entire life. At this point, the cast and switch is such a natural move, changing now is not something I would even consider doing. In my opinion, I can make the same cast accurately and on target, and have the rod and reel ready for action the second the lure/bait is in the water. It also helps that I am ambidextrous and can do most things with either my right or left equally as well. 

As far as what a given angler should use regarding a left handed or right handed baitcasting reel the number one answer is quite simple – what are you comfortable using? That is really the only issue with what hand you reel in your baitcasting reel with. Both reels will work the same, and allow an angler to "work" a bait efficiently. 

So… are you comfortable throwing a baitcasting reel over your right shoulder and switching hands to reel? Are you are true left handed angler and cast over your left shoulder? Whatever feels "right" is what side the reel handle should be on.

In closing, like I said above… I'll stick with using a right handed baitcaster because the bottom line is, it is comfortable to me.

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