Merwin: Righty or Lefty for Baitcasting? | Field & Stream

The Lateral Line

The Fishing Blog from Field & Stream's Dave Wolak and Joe Cermele

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Merwin: Righty or Lefty for Baitcasting?

Here's a question for you baitcasting-reel fans: right-handed or left-handed?

Most such reels traditionally have the handle on the right side. That means a right-handed caster will make a cast and then switch the rod to the left hand so the reel can be cranked with the right hand. That sounds cumbersome, but long-time baitcasters know that it's quick and simple once you get used to it.

But now there are increasing numbers of new reels available as left-handed versions, meaning the reel handle is on the left side (as the reel faces forward). The Shimano reel shown in the photo is a lefty, for example.

In that case, a right-handed caster casts with his right hand (or both hands with the right hand dominant) and reels with his left. This is not the traditional approach, but it might make more sense. There's no need to switch hands after a cast is made. Contact with the lure is never lost, and if a fish hits just as the lure lands there's no delay in hook-setting.

I admit the logic, but have trouble in the application. I first learned to baitcast more then 50 years ago when left-handed reels were, as far as I know, unheard of. So I've spent decades casting right-handed and then switching the rod so I could reel right-handed also.

Of course back then most freshwater baitcasters didn't have an anti-reverse, there was no free-spool, and no star-drag either. Yes-siree, back when men were men. Take that, you whippersnappers.

But seriously, I've tried left-handed baitcasters recently and haven't stuck with them. Despite all common sense, it just seemed too awkward on the water. But maybe I should put more effort into making it work.

So I'm curious to know...are you reeling right? Or reeling left?