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How to Switch Reels

You can learn how to switch reels, or change your fishing reel arm from a right-handed retrieve to a left-handed retrieve on a spinning reel, quickly and easily. If you are left-handed and have just purchased a new fishing reel or take a left-handed friend fishing, follow the steps below.

How to Change Reel Handle Side

If you are left-handed or want to let a left-handed friend use one of your spinning reels, you will want to know how to switch a right-handed reel to a left-handed reel. While you won't technically be switching out the reel itself, you will be switching the reel arm from one side to the other.

It doesn't matter if you are right-handed and prefer to hold your fishing rod and spinning reel in your right-hand while reeling with your left-hand, or if you are left-handed and would rather hold the reel in your left-hand while reeling with your right-hand. Whichever side feels most comfortable for you, it only takes a minute or two to learn how to switch reels (switch the reel handle side) for a better experience.

Changing Reel from Right-Handed to Left-Handed

Most all fishing reels made to be used with spinning rods will allow you to switch the reel handle side. Just follow a few steps to switch your reel handle from the left side (for right-handed casters) to the right side (for left-handed casters).

  1. Unscrew the dust cap on the right side of the spinning reel until it comes out.
  2. Unscrew the reel handle on the left side of the reel by turning the handle in a clockwise direction.
  3. Insert the reel arm into the right side of the reel where the dust cap was just removed, and then tighten by turning the reel clockwise.
  4. Place the dust cap into the opening on the left side of the reel and screw into place until tight.
  5. That's it -- you just switched your reel from right-handed to left-handed!

As part of your fishing gear maintenance routine, it's a good idea to add a drop or two of lubricant inside the reel before reattaching the handle. You are likely to notice that your reel will cast easier and farther if you clean and lubricate the interior mechanisms from time to time.

Changing Reel from Left-Handed to Right-Handed

To change reel handle side back, so that you are casting with your right-hand and reeling with your left, you simply change the steps to the opposite side.

  1. Unscrew the dust cap on the left side of the spinning reel until it comes out.
  2. Unscrew the reel handle on the right side of the reel by turning the handle in a counter-clockwise direction.
  3. Insert the reel arm into the left side of the reel where the dust cap was just removed, and tighten by turning the reel counter-clockwise.
  4. Place the dust cap into the opening on the right side of the reel and screw into place until tight.
  5. Great job, you just switched your reel back from left-handed back to right-handed!

Remember that these steps apply to spinning reels only. You would not follow these steps when using a baitcasting reel because baitcasting reels traditionally have the handle on the right side. If you are right-handed and using a baitcasting reel, you would make a cast and then switch your rod over to your left hand so that the reel arm can be cranked with your right hand.