Press ESC to close

Which Way Do I Go? Am I Right Or Left Hand Retrieve???

Are you a novice in the world of fly fishing? Have you ever wondered which hand to use for retrieving your reel? In a video by Orvis Guide to Fly Fishing, Tom provides insight on how to assess your needs and set up your reel correctly. When purchasing a fly rod outfit or a reel, you will likely be asked if you prefer a right or left-hand retrieve. For right-handed casters, the handle on the reel is typically on the left side, allowing for left-hand retrieve. However, this is not the case for everyone, as personal preference plays a significant role. Tom, who is right-handed, prefers casting with his right hand and stripping in fish, but switches hands when reeling in a bigger catch. Ultimately, the key is to choose the most comfortable option for you before setting up your reel to avoid the hassle of reconfiguring the entire line and backing. Remember, it doesn’t matter which hand you use, as long as it serves your needs and makes your fly fishing experience enjoyable.

Assessing Your Reel Setup

When it comes to setting up your fishing reel, one of the first decisions you’ll need to make is whether you prefer a right or left hand retrieve. This choice may seem insignificant, but it can greatly impact your fishing experience. In this article, we will explore the importance of knowing your preference, different techniques for right-handed casters, and how to avoid common set-up errors. By the end, you’ll have a clear understanding of how to choose the hand retrieve direction that is most comfortable and convenient for your fishing style.

Which Way Do I Go? Am I Right Or Left Hand Retrieve???

Determining Right or Left Hand Retrieve

Before we delve into the specifics of right or left hand retrieve, it’s important to note that there is no right or wrong way to do it. The choice ultimately depends on your personal preference and what feels most comfortable to you. To determine your preferred hand retrieve, consider the following factors:

  1. Dominant Hand: Are you right-handed or left-handed? Many right-handed individuals find it more convenient to reel in with their left hand, as they can easily transition from casting to retrieving without switching hands. Conversely, left-handed anglers may prefer a right hand retrieve for the same reasons.
  2. Casting Hand: The hand you use for casting can also influence your choice. If you cast with your right hand, using a left hand retrieve may align well with your natural movements. On the other hand, if you cast with your left hand, a right hand retrieve may be more intuitive.

Understanding Right Hand Casting

For right-handed casters, using a left hand retrieve is the most common and convenient option. When casting with your right hand, the handle of the reel is placed on the left side. This positioning allows for seamless transitioning between casting and retrieving. Once you’ve cast your line and hooked a fish, you can easily reach the reel handle with your right hand, eliminating the need to switch hands during the retrieval process.

Different Approach for Strong Right-Handed Casters

While most right-handed anglers prefer a left hand retrieve, there are some exceptions, particularly among those who are strongly right-handed. These individuals may choose to reel in with their dominant hand, even when casting with their right hand. This approach is a matter of personal preference and can still be effective.

When using a right hand retrieve as a right-handed caster, you may find it more comfortable to simply strip in the fish instead of utilizing the reel. Stripping involves pulling the line in manually with your hand, which can be quicker and more efficient for smaller fish. However, when dealing with larger fish that require the use of the reel, you can easily switch hands. Play the fish with your left hand and reel with your right hand. This technique allows for a smooth and natural motion, ensuring proper control and a more comfortable experience.

Choosing Comfort and Preference

The key to a successful fishing experience lies in choosing the hand retrieve direction that feels most comfortable and convenient for you. Consider how you naturally move and which hand feels more dextrous for reeling. Ultimately, the goal is to have a setup that allows for smooth transitions between casting and retrieving, while also providing optimal control and comfort. Once you have determined your preferred hand retrieve, it’s time to set up your reel accordingly.

Which Way Do I Go? Am I Right Or Left Hand Retrieve???

Avoiding Set-Up Errors

When setting up your reel, it is crucial to ensure that everything is aligned correctly to prevent any complications during fishing. Incorrect reel set-up can lead to various issues, including decreased casting distance, tangled line, and overall frustration. To avoid these problems, it is important to take the following precautions:

  1. Remove All Line: If you realize that you have set up your reel incorrectly, it is necessary to remove all the line and backing from the reel. This process can be time-consuming, but it is essential for correcting any set-up errors.
  2. Switch the Drag: Once the line has been removed, you should switch the drag over inside the reel. This step ensures that the drag system functions properly when you re-spool the line.
  3. Wind the Line Correctly: After switching the drag, it’s time to wind the line and backing back onto the reel in the correct direction. This process requires patience and attention to detail to ensure a smooth and even line retrieval.

By taking the time to set up your reel correctly and avoiding any set-up errors, you can enhance your fishing experience and avoid unnecessary complications on the water.

Specify Your Preference

When purchasing a new reel or a fly rod outfit, it is essential to communicate your hand retrieve preference to the salesperson or vendor. This information allows them to set up the reel accordingly and ensure that you receive a product tailored to your needs. You can specify whether you prefer a right hand wind or a left hand line, depending on your preferred hand retrieve direction.

Video Resource

For visual learners, there are excellent video resources available to guide you through the reel set-up process. One such video can be found on the Orvis Guide to Fly Fishing YouTube channel. This educational content provides step-by-step instructions and demonstrations for setting up your reel correctly.

Additional Learning Resources

If you are interested in further expanding your knowledge on reel set-up and fishing techniques, there are several other valuable resources available. The New Fly Fisher TV show provides informative episodes dedicated to all aspects of fly fishing, including reel set-up. Jensen Fly Fishing and Tightline Video are also reputable sources for educational content on fishing techniques and gear. Additionally, the Orvis Fly Fishing website offers a wealth of articles, videos, and guides to help anglers improve their skills and make informed decisions when it comes to reel set-up.

The Versatility of Right and Left Hand Retrieve

It is important to note that there is no significant advantage or disadvantage to either the right or left hand retrieve direction. The choice ultimately boils down to personal preference and comfort. Some anglers may find it more natural to reel with their dominant hand, even if it contradicts traditional casting techniques. As long as your chosen hand retrieve allows for seamless transitions between casting and retrieving and provides you with the control and comfort you desire, it is considered a valid approach.


When it comes to assessing your reel setup, determining your preferred hand retrieve is a crucial first step. By understanding the convenience and practicality of right hand casting, the different approach for strong right-handed casters, and the importance of choosing comfort and preference, you can set up your reel in a way that enhances your fishing experience. Avoiding set-up errors and specifying your preference when purchasing or ordering a new reel are also key factors in ensuring a smooth and efficient fishing process. Remember, there is no right or wrong hand retrieve direction; personal comfort and convenience should always be your guiding principles.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *