Why Are Spinning Reels Left-Handed?

A black spinning reel

Spinning reels sit underneath the rod and have a spool that is perpendicular to the rod. The arm of a spinning reel is usually pointed to the left perpendicular to the rod.

If you’ve ever wondered why most spinning reels are designed for your left hand to reel the line and your right hand to control the rod, then take a look through this article. We’ve researched why exactly spinning reels are built this way and what the benefits are.

Benefits of Spinning Reels being Left-Handed

By design, almost every manufacturer of spinning reels makes it so that the left-hand handles the reel, leaving the rod to be controlled by the right hand.

This has several major benefits as opposed to using your right hand to control the reel for right-handed people. Let’s jump into the reasons why most spinning reels are left-handed.

Better Casting

When casting bait your right hand will be positioned above the spinning reel to provide power for the cast. Your left hand will usually be placed below the spinning reel to provide a little bit of rotation during the cast, but that’s about it.

Using your right arm for power makes more sense because this will be the stronger arm if you are right-handed, meaning you can cast your bait further and with better precision. If you’ve ever tried casting the other way around using your left arm to control the rod then you’ll know all too well how awkward this can feel if you’re right-handed.

If you underarm cast as well from time to time depending on conditions, then it is better to have control of the rod with your dominant hand for this as well.

Better Control of the Rod when Fighting a Fish

Keeping control of the rod whilst fighting a fish is one of the most important aspects of fishing.

By using your right arm to control the rod while your left hand handle the reel you are giving your left hand the easier and more straightforward job. As a right-hander, this is exactly what you want as your right arm will be much more fit to keep the fish out of any snags by providing better control of the rod.

Better Strength

Not only will you be able to control your rod when both casting and catching fish, but you will also have improved strength using your dominant right arm to handle the rod.

This only applies to bigger fish like catfish however it is important to know nonetheless. Battling a large fish is very, very hard work so you’ll want to make sure your stronger arm is providing the bulk of the force that you need to secure the prize.

Save More Time by Not Switching Hands

If you’re right-handed and have to use a rod where the reel arm is facing the right then after each cast you will have to swap arms so that your right, more dominant arm can hold the rod.

This problem is completely avoided by having the reel arm facing the left, like on a conventional spinning reel. Surprisingly, many pro fishermen still prefer to use a set up where they need to switch hands after each cast, but each to their own.

Changing a Spinning Reel from Left to Right-Handed

Although most spinning reels have the reel arm to the left, there is an easy solution if you prefer to reel with your right hand.

If you take a close look at the reel arm, you will see that you can actually screw the arm off completely without the need for tools. Once you’ve done this, you can simply screw the arm into the other side and there you have it!

This is great to know if you’re fishing with other people and you’re taking it in turns using the rod. It’s also good if you accidentally order a spinning reel with the arm facing the opposite way to what you want.

We’ve all been there and done that, but just remember how simple it is to change it over before you think about refunds!

Why are Baitcasters Right Handed?

Most baitcasters have the reel arm perpendicular to the rod but facing the right, with the key difference is that the reel is placed on top of the rod rather than below like the spinning reel.

This doesn’t apply to all baitcasters, just as before not all spinning reels have the reel arm to the left, but it does seem to be the most popular design.

But why are baitcasters right-handed, when spinning reels are conventionally left-handed?

The answer lies in history. Spinning reels are more modern in terms of when they were first brought to market. Traditional reels placed more emphasis on the reel itself rather than the control of the rod, meaning the reel arm would be at the right-hand side.

Which Design is Correct?

The answer to this question depends on whether you are right or left-handed. Right-handers will prefer the reel arm to the left, whereas left-handers prefer the reel arm to the right.

Luckily you can buy both layouts for either spinning reels or baitcasters so you shouldn’t need to worry too much. And even if you make the wrong choice most reels out there allow for the arm position to be changed anyway.

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