Left-handed or Right-handed Baitcaster?

Posted by MNAngler On March - 29 - 2010

Now back to our regularly scheduled blog subject…

So I’ve been having an internal debate with myself and would like to get the opinion of other anglers.

I have been using spinning reels all of my fishing career and had decided last year that it was time to start learning on a baitcast reel. I had heard it was more accurate and more fun to use. But because I am used to spinning reels, I was looking for a left-handed baitcaster.

For those of you not familiar, you generally reel with your left hand on a spinning reel even if you’re right-handed as I am. The reason is, you can use your dominant hand to cast with and not have to switch hands to begin reeling. This is especially important when a fish strikes right after your cast. You can be ready to set the hook and reel him in immediately. I was expecting that the same would hold true for a baitcaster. But there are predominantly right-handed reeling baitcasters sold at retailers. It’s actually quite hard to find a left-handed baitcaster reel.

I searched high and low and found a left-handed baitcaster I liked, but wasn’t ready to buy just yet. It was late-summer and I wanted to get some time practicing with the reel before going out with it since they have a reputation of creating huge tangles if you don’t know what you are doing. I didn’t want to buy it, get my practice, and have the season end when I was ready.

Then, my brother, who had just learned on a baitcaster last summer, gave me a baitcast reel for Christmas. It was right-handed. He had been looking for a left-handed baitcaster as well, but ended up with a right-handed one and said it felt more natural. He said he tried left-handed baitcasters and they made his shoulder wiggle when using it. Ever since then, I’ve been debating whether I should use a left-handed or right-handed reel.

I have tried both and don’t have the same complaint about the shoulder wiggle that my brother does. But I’m wondering if I’m going to be bothered by casting, then switching hands to reel if I use a right-handed version.

Obviously, this doesn’t seem to be a big deal to most anglers given the number of right-handed baitcasters out on the market.

So I defer to my more experienced readers. Does casting with your right-hand, then reeling with your left seem less natural with a baitcaster than a spinning reel? Does switching hands after a cast cause any problems with missed strikes? Which version do you recommend? Please leave a comment with your thoughts. Thanx!

[Update: I settled on using a right-handed baitcaster and wrote a post about my experiences with it.]

33 Responses to “Left-handed or Right-handed Baitcaster?”

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by MNAngler. MNAngler said: Baitcaster anglers: should I use a left-handed or right-handed baitcaster? Pls leave comment with your thoughts: http://bit.ly/cEKzkh [...]

    • Ron says:

      A couple of years ago I started deep sea fishing and found the right handed bait-casters to be very awkward, especially when fighting the big boys. I remembered then why I did not care for deep sea fishing when I was a teen, I`am right handed and always used a spin caster in fresh water reeling with my left hand so I found a penn 113LH Bait-caster and I just feel so much more comfortable with that I just cannot figure out why so many fisherman struggle with the right handed ones? It is funny to watch others trying to reel in a big fish and seeing the bait-caster flop from side to side, seems like they struggle with it Unnecessarily?

  2. Wolfy says:

    Cast right handed, switch hands, and reel right handed. After you get used to it, it becomes second nature – like using a clutch while driving a manual transmission.

    • tony says:

      but why have to get used to it when you feel good with a left hand to begin with and also why would you go right hand when you can go left hand using your get used to it theory and not have to switch hands i guess its all personal preffernce i cant spell lol

  3. BassDem says:

    To premise my comment, I am not left handed and really don’t like the experience of using spinning reels, let alone a left handed baitcaster. If you see a lefty you like in a magazine or online and you don’t see it on display at a store, ask the person behind the counter. Sometimes the left handed version is sitting in its comfy cozy box on the shelf. If you are fine using a righty, you won’t experience the frustration created by the righty-only trend in baitcasters. The lefty model either arrives later or never arrives at all. Casting and switching hands isn’t much of a problem for me and you will develop casting arm-only techniques and tricks. Thumbing line and pitching will be the same, both right handed. Setting the hook will be different. Right hand on the foregrip or left? That’s something else to consider as foregrips on casting rods can vary. Would you end up palming the reel like many anglers or will you thumb the line over the foregrip like me? There is a lot more to consider than which hand you’ll be using to turn the crank. Hope that gives you a better perspective given your choices.

    • MNAngler says:

      Waiting for the lefty version of the baitcaster I am interested in isn’t an issue for me because the one I found was on display at the sporting goods store. That’s how I knew there was a lefty version. That’s the one I’m after.

      I’ve heard most baitcaster anglers palm their reels, which is what I was expecting to do. I’ll have to do some research on how others handle them.

  4. BigSkyAngler says:

    Get the right handed version. I agree with Wolfy that it will become second nature. I can cast, switch hands and engage the reel before it hits the water so I wouldn’t worry about missing any strikes. It will take a bit to get the casting and thumbing the spool down and you will get huge tangles before you are proficient but it will be worth it. You will never look back.

    My only concern is that those reels are too small. Step up and get a real reel! Something like the Abu Garcia Record or the Shimano Calcutta. Now those are the real deal and will be perfect for muskies. What? You want one for bass…um…OK…I guess those will do. Maybe.

  5. MNAngler says:

    Thanx, all, for all the great comments.

    I saw on wikipedia that the original baitcasters were basically just inverted reels that had to back wound to retrieve line.

    And a post on a forum basically asked the same question and the replies were that it’s personal preference.

    I’m still interested in the opinions of other anglers, so please still add a comment if you haven’t already.

    • joey says:

      one perk of left handed baitcasters is that they will go on sale a lot more often in stores than right handed ones. its like shoes, i wear a pretty large size shoe so i usually can find a pair in the store that is discounted because they r too big for other people to fit into so they dont sell as fast and they just put them on discount.

  6. Jim Braaten says:

    I agree with the others. Go with the right-handed model as this seems to be the most popular way to use a baitcaster. With all the casting and cranking you want to be doing this with your strong arm (assuming you are naturally right-handed). On the other hand, if using a left-hand model somehow feels more natural to you for whatever reason, there’s nothing wrong with using that either. It’s a personal thing. I use Abu Garcia 6500 C3′s for muskie as I do not fish for bass…but you would want something a bit smaller/different if you have bass fishing mostly in mind. Good luck!!

    • tony says:

      what does casting and cranking have to do with strength im assuming when you say cranking your speaking of cranking the real?

  7. Tyler Brinks says:

    I actually use both. I like a right handed reel for fast moving baits so I can really crank it (I’m right handed). Switching hands with the rod is like second nature, like others have said. When I’m flippin and picthing I like to flip with my right hand and reel with my left. I am used to both types so I’m comfortable with both right and left handed baitcast reels.

    • goose says:

      thanks for the info.. i use bait casters for all my cranking but cant get the rhythem for walking the dog.. so i use a spinning reel for that and it works great but i would like to try a left hande bait caster , just not sure what to do…

  8. MNAngler says:

    Thanx, Jim and Tyler, for taking the time to comment.

  9. Dillon says:

    As i am sure you know it will be a pref thing. I learned muskie fishing 10 years ago with a RH calcuta (my spelling sucks im a blue collar worker) i was taught by a seasoned muskee/baitcaster angler. He told me “palm the real with your left hand with line running over your index to FEEL the tension and action. when you cast, don’t move that left hand! I paid over $275 for that reel and rod and that crank bait is $25 and if you drop it you are going in after it!” he was my boss in construction. Any way i just bought my pinacle platinum with the recomended 12lb test and the first time i cast it it all came back, palm the real and my left hand dosn’t move till i change bait, not even to drink my beer. 2 handed cast and then just slide right hand up to reel. My rat nest didn’t happen till i got cocky after 3 casts and thought i was perfect. Point being, make sure what you buy is what you want to LEARN on. Either way you learn will become second nature and the other will be foriegn.

    Good luck and enjoy your new reel. Fishing just gets better with a baitcaster!

    • MNAngler says:

      Thanx for your great story, Dillon. The way your mentor asked you to cast seems awkward to me. As a right-hander, my left hand naturally goes to the butt of the rod. It then seems natural to just bring it up to start reeling rather than switch hands. But I suppose it’s all in what you get used to.

      I’ll be learning on the Daiwa Megaforce that my brother gave me. It’s a right-handed reel. I may still go left-handed in the future. We’ll see.

      Thanx for visiting. And for taking the time to leave a comment.

  10. Dillon says:

    That was the point. You see i was taught a certain way and now it is easy and it feels natural. I tried to bring my left down on the rod (shakespere ugly stick) and it felt weird. Plus since he taught me to palm the reel and let the line slid over my finger i feel every bump, nibble and S-T-R-I-K-E. You will notice that once you learn on one it will be difficult to change style let alone reels. It can be done but like the saying goes “If it aint broke don’t fix it”. I wish you the best… and biggest fish.

  11. [...] two months ago, I posed a question to my readers about whether I should use a left-handed or right-handed baitcaster if I am right-handed. I got [...]

  12. I have used both left and right handed reels and do not find any drawbacks to either one. I guess the main thing to consider is how you feel about using your off hand to turn the handle, this can be difficult for some anglers.

    I find that Abu Garcia offers most of there reels in both left and right hand models. You may want to check them out when you are considering buying your next reel.

  13. Emily says:

    im right handed, but i use my left hand to do a lot of things. im pretty much ambidextrious. im going to use a right handed baitcaster to do my crankin, and such, but ill use a left handed reel to flip and pitch with jigs and other plastics. its very convenient that way.

  14. Bob Wicke says:

    Use a righty,

    leftys are for europeans because the majority here use spinning gear and its easier to change to a baitcaster. Otherwise they couldnt sell their reels. A few years ago there where no leftys on the market and nobody used baitcasters (only in scandinavia).

    My personal opinion is that with a righty, your arms wont get tired so quick because you change the palming hand.

    Greetings from Germany

  15. Pauca says:

    Strange how almost everyone adjusts so easy to the right handed bait caster. I MUST have my rod in my right hand. Period! Its my arm of strength and accuracy concerning casting. Right handed reeling is for me the same as driving on the left side of the road with the steer on the right side. Retarded! I once was in the UK where I had to drive on the left side. Its something I never get used to.
    I hope manufactures will think about people like me. Left handed reeling. That is for me natural. No right hand bait casters for me. Sorry.

  16. bob mitchelll says:

    I suppose my query as to what to buy, Left or right handed retreive is answered. I am getting ready to convert from spinning. I assumed that the left handed retreive was for righties. Now I see that this is a common question to ask. I will go with a left handed reel bec
    ause that is what I am used to.

  17. chris newton says:

    I too asked the same question years ago when I started using a baitcaster to fish for bass. I could not get an answer from anyone so I bought a left handed real which I still use and it feels natural to me. Here is the only drawback. If you flip with your right hand as most right handers do, the line will get hung up on your handle. Hope this helps.

    • Yardbasser says:

      I got a lefty after using all right handed models. Works ok, but yes one can’t flip with the rod in the right hand for that reason. I then need a right handed reel for flippin’. The only advantage I see with a lefty is when throwin’ a buzzbait.

  18. Bob Mitchell says:

    I bought a lefty and it feels great. I cannot imagine reeling with my Rt. hand and holding the rod in my left as I reel in a big one. Already used to it.

  19. pauca says:

    This must be a clear sign to the manufacturers to create more left handed bait casters because the majority of fishermen that have the previous experience from the left handed spinner reels have already that natural feel of left handed retrieve. It is just retarded who ever start creating right handed bait casters in the first place. Its just a matter of sound mind.

  20. Nickydeuce says:

    Im right handed… I use a left handed baitcaster. Always used spinning reels growing up.


    im right handed and i reel with my left hand for my whole life.. my right hand is stronger and feels more comfortable.. go what you think is best.. for me i fish baitcasters now. while reeling with my left hand and a fish strike my right hand is stronger and feels more comfortable.. always go what you think is best.. my friend fish spin with left and cast with right witch i think is pretty dumb… he misses alot of fish because his left hand is so weak..

  22. [...] other surprise is my inquiry about left-handed vs. right-handed baitcaster reels. I posted the question about which to buy as a quest to pull from the experience of my fellow [...]

  23. Tony says:

    I have been using bait-casters for several years now. Think it took about half a day to learn and I have since given away my spinning gear. Regardless, I have always cast right handed. With my spinning rods, I would reel left handed, hook set right. I have have three bait-cast reels and a spin-cast all set up for right hand retrieve left hand hook set (come to think of it that may be a good way to find your preference since most spin-casters will be adjustable retrieve and sit on top of the rod and have approximately the same handle/stroke for under 30 bucks). I’ve always wondered myself why this is more natural for me and my conclusion is the reel stroke itself in conjunction with the rod grip. Because your rod hand is now either beside or beneath your rod and reel while retrieving your lure, the hook-set motion/strength requirement/coordination requirements are all moot. I cant throw a baseball ten feet with my left hand, but I can set the hook with equal force since all your doing is palm up reef back. That said, retrieval (especially rapid retrieve) is like throwing left handed because the handle and turn radius are typically smaller/shorter on a bait-caster while the rod is closer to your body. I cannot quite manage fast tight circles with my left wrist, probably looks hilarious. The only reason I can reel left handed with spin rods is my right hand holds the rod in front of my body far enough where simple gross motor skills in my off hand allow me to make fast wide sweeping reel strokes from the elbow, wrist remains fairly straight and locked. That just isn’t how you hold a bait cast rod. Cast right -tuck left and reel right. Technically your not even “switching hands” since 90 percent of your casts will be two handed and neither one leaves the rod! If your concerned over missed strikes just get a flippin’ model so when your lure hits, left off the spool release and your hook set ready. More than you wanted to know?

  24. Nicholas says:

    I have had this debate with a friend of mine and it seems to go no where. We are both right handed and use baitcasters, but I reel with my my left hand (smart) and he reels with his right(traditional). I feel like it was a bad joke played on fishermen around the world or that the people who came up with the baitcaster were just looking for something to set themselves apart from the spinning reel. Bottom line, it’s far less efficient and they do look dumb fighting big fish. The lack of control is “classic” and they always make it look like their bringing in a bigger fish than they really are. The switch of hands is a waste of time and far less affective as well. Anyone who has gotten used to it will probably never switch and they’ll tell you that any other way “just doesn’t feel right”. In my opinion, if you have never bought a baitcaster and are looking to try one, buy a baitcaster that is designed for your “opposite hand”. Righties buy left and lefties buy right. You’ll get used to it and it will feel more natural it you have ever fished before. Having your strong hand on the rod will make you look like less of a tool when your fighting those big boys as well. Happy Fishing!!!

  25. zac says:

    I just bought a baitcaster yesterday, after using an open reel my entire life, I have to say that I don’t mind the wierd right handed reel, I honestly bought it without even noticing in the store. What I did to teach myself was I threw some line on it, and just put a bobber or something heavy on the end of the line, and I took it out in the yard to throw some casts and get used to using my thumb and all the little techniques. After a half hour or so it was like I’d been using a baitcaster all my life.

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