Left vs Right-handed Fishing Reel: Which is Right for You?

Thomas Krik

Written by

Thomas Krik

Marc Lowe


Marc Lowe

left vs right-handed fishing reel

When you’re new to fishing, one of the first decisions is whether to retrieve with a right- or left-handed reel. How you hold your rod and reel can make a big difference in your fishing experience. It can affect the comfort and efficiency of casting and retrieval.

As such, this article will explore the long debate about left vs right-handed fishing reels. We’ll highlight their differences, advantages, and disadvantages to guide you to an informed decision.

Join us, and let’s discover which reel orientation suits you best and enhances your angling skills!

An Overview

1. Left-handed Reel – Best for Left-handed Anglers


As the name implies, left-handed reels are designed for anglers with a left-hand orientation. These fishers find it comfortable and easier to crank the handle or reel the spool with their left hand.

These reels feature a handle on the left side, allowing anglers to turn the reel handle with their left hand. They are available in various models and sizes to fit most fishing needs, from a left-handed bait caster to a spinning reel.

2. Right-handed Reel – Best for Right-handed Anglers


If you prefer to operate the reel with your right hand, you might like a right-handed fishing reel. These reels have a handle on the right side. Hence, they provide a more natural grip and control for anglers with a dominant right hand.

For example, if you’re a right-handed angler, you should get a right-handed spinning or baitcasting reel. That way, you can comfortably crank the handle, retrieve a bait caster, and control line tension with your right hand.

How Are These Reels Similar?

Generally, the structure and functionality of both reels are almost the same. For example, their drag systems and spool mechanisms are no different. Both have similar components that facilitate the control and retrieval of fishing lines.

Although they differ in handle placement, both can also be customized to suit angler preferences. For instance, you can adjust the drag settings, spool tension, and handle grip to elevate your fishing experience.

Main Differences Between These Reels

To help you decide better, here are some notable distinctions to consider:

1. Handle orientation


The primary difference between these reel types is the handle placement. Left-handed reels have handles positioned on your left side, while the opposite has handles on your right.

This means that the left-handed design will have spools that rotate clockwise, while the latter’s spool rotates counter-clockwise.

2. Ergonomics and handling


With right-handed reels, the rod will be held with the left hand while using the right hand to manage the reel. In right-handed reels, anglers clasp the rod with their left arm while the offhand will retrieve the lure.

3. Casting and retrieving techniques


The angler’s dominant arm can affect their casting and retrieving techniques. Left-handed fishing reels make scaling and casting smoother and easier for left-handed anglers. Meanwhile, right-handed reels have standard operation techniques, delivering optimal casting and retrieving for most anglers.

4. Availability and price


Most manufacturers may offer more diverse models for right-handed bait casters or reels than their left-handed counterparts. As a result, the latter might be rarer to find and could be more expensive in some areas.

5. Pros and Cons

The benefits and demerits of each type of reel will also help you identify the right tool for your needs. Let’s go over them one by one:

Left-handed reels

  • Intuitive and efficient for left-handed anglers
  • Smooth and comfortable casting and retrieving
  • No need to switch between one hand to the other
  • Limited availability
  • Maybe costlier
  • Steeper learning curve

Right-handed reels

  • Available in various series
  • Widespread supply
  • Easier to share with left-handed users
  • Discomfort for left-handed users

Which Reel is Best for You?


The best fishing reel setup can enhance your angling experience. It allows for more efficient casting, smoother reeling, and easier lure retrieval. Thus, you have to pick the perfect reel model for your needs.

Indeed, there’s no clear answer to whether a left or right-handed reel is better. Your choice boils down to your preferences, comfort, and angling style. Traditionally, right-handed reels were prevalent, but left-handed reels have become increasingly popular in recent years.

As a rule of thumb, if your left arm is more dominant, purchase a left-handed reel, and vice versa. It’s because it will be easier to manipulate or manage the reel with your left or right hand.

Fortunately, there are multiple variants for you to choose the perfect reel for your unique needs. You can find a bait caster for right-handed persons and vice versa.

Finally, if you can cast with your left or right hand without issues, you’re better off choosing a right-handed reel. You can fish effectively, as you have the flexibility to use either arm.

Considerations When Choosing a One-handed Fishing Reel

The following considerations will also help you shop for the suitable fishing reel!

  1. Hand preference and dexterity: Consider your dominant hand and whether you feel more comfortable using a left-handed or right-handed reel.
  2. Angling techniques and styles: Different techniques may favor left or right-handed reels. Consider the fishing techniques you commonly use and if a specific reel type would boost your performance.
  3. Comfortability: The choice between a left or right-handed fishing reel is a matter of considering your comfort level. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced angler, it’s best to choose a reel that feels comfortable and natural in your hands.


In summary, arguing about left vs right-handed fishing reels isn’t the real challenge. After careful analysis of each option, it’s definite that neither reel type is objectively better than the other. The decision ultimately lies in your preferences and what you feel is suitable for your dominant arm.

Do keep in mind that the prime factor is your comfort and confidence while fishing, as it directly affects your overall experience and success on the water. Regardless of your choice, it’s essential to have fun on your adventure and feel the satisfaction of landing some game fish!

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