Which Way Should A Fly Reel Face? (Fly Fishing Reels)

Knowing the features of your fishing gear and using it well will help you enhance the performance of your fishing trips. However, there is always an argument between whether the fly reel should be left or right hand retrieved. From that, if you gather information from other people or read on forums, you will probably become confused. One person, one opinion, there is no universal answer there.

So, which is right and which is wrong? The answer is that there is no right or wrong here; it all depends on your preferences. In this article, I will help you better shape this controversy.

Which way should a fly reel face? The handle on the left side is standard on most fly reels these days. Most freshwater anglers will retrieve with their left hand as they will be less likely to face big fish so that they can do a good spin with their left hand. Besides, with saltwater fishing, fighting big fish with your left hand will make you feel tired and not strong enough to prolong the fight, so cast with your right hand, switch the rod to your left hand, and retrieve right hand would be the more optimal choice.

Above, I refer to 90% of right-handed people (I am one of them). If you are left-handed, do the opposite way. That’s my recommendation; it may not be entirely suitable for you. Do what makes you feel most comfortable.

The reason why you can both cast and spin fly fishing reels with your right hand

There is always a popular saying, “do it with your strongest hand,” which seems to apply well in this case. Usually, your most strongest hand is your dominant hand (90% right hand); spinning with it gives you more power, resulting in you being able to spin faster when facing aggressive fish. After all, your ability to retrieve fish depends on how fast you turn the handle and reel it in.

Besides, some people find it uncomfortable to spin the reels with their left (non-dominant) hand, and they think it is mandatory. I think this is pretty stupid; if you read my previous posts, I always mention that fishing is a sport that depends a lot on personal preference, so do what you feel most comfortable.

Switching the rod from right to left hand won’t take long; the first time you’re not used to it will cause the line to sag, but after a few practices, it should be nothing to worry about, you won’t lose any more fish during that time.

Which way should a fly reel face?

Do it with both hands.

If you find it annoying to switch between hands or don’t have enough strength with your non-dominant hand, why not try ambidextrous casting? Although casting with the non-dominant hand won’t give as far as the other hand, it’s okay as long as it can.

There are many reasons for you to do that. First of all, flexibility, many situations when you have to retrieve the hand that you don’t have to use often. For example, if your left hand is injured or has problems, switching to retrieve with the other hand may be necessary.

As for me, I can do it with both hands. It’s not difficult, with just a few practices. Therefore, If two-handed strength doesn’t have too much difference, you should do it the same way.

Do it with both hands.

Is it possible to reverse the handle from left to right or vice versa?

When you accidentally bought a reel with a left handle and are uncomfortable with it, you can completely change it to the right one. You may get the job done with just a few simple steps. Look for the manual again; how to change the handle will be there. If you can’t find it, you can go to the manufacturer’s website to download it. Moreover, it still doesn’t work, take it to the nearest fly shop around you; they will help you do it for free.


The origin of this controversy is that you can easily redirect the handle. Since then, different anglers have relied on their strengths and habits to give their personal views and cause this controversial issue.

If someone tells you it’s best to reel left or reel right, ignore them and spin to whichever side feels most comfortable. You won’t be able to pull a tired arm to fish and expect good performance.

When you search for a new fly reel, you can choose a spin with any handle direction. Buy it, practice it; after a few times, you’ll know which direction is best for you and redirect the handle in that direction. It’s straightforward, I guarantee it.

I have shared with you my experiences. I have seen this controversy going on for quite some time, and I wanted to help some people out of its confusion. I hope it is helpful to you.

What about your opinion?

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