How to Change a Fishing Reel From Right to Left-Handed?

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You got yourself a brand new reel. You read countless reviews, watched videos, and spent immeasurable hours on the market looking for the one model just to open the package and find out that the handle is in the wrong place.

So, you wonder. How to change a fishing reel from right to left-handed retrieve? Here we show you how to in 5 simple steps:

  • Secure the handle.
  • Take the dust cap off on the other side. Lubricate the opening.
  • Place the handle on the new location. 
  • Place the dust cap on the opposite side.
  • Secure the handle and turn the cap.

But there is a catch, though. Follow through to learn more.

Can You Make a Right-handed Reel Left-Handed? 

Most spinning reels available in the market today have interchangeable handles. This way, you can seamlessly swap right to left or left to right. Follow the five steps we mentioned before, and you will be good to go.

Beware of seals and gaskets. There are some reels, especially if it is a reel with a watertight interior. However, this doesn’t affect the procedure. Just keep in mind to place the seal after the handle. 

Another quick thing before we move on, changing the handle position is also possible with baitcasting reels! The process is the same as we described before. 

Do I Need Any Tools to Change a Right-handed Spinning Reel Left-Handed?

You won’t need tools. In fact, we highly recommend using your hands only to change the handle location. You can damage the cap or grind the screws otherwise.  

Use a piece of cloth to increase your grip if the cap is too tight. Keep in mind not to apply too much pressure when assembling the reel again. You don’t want to render your new reel useless by damaging something. 

Do I Need to Take the Line Out to Change a Right-handed Spinning Reel Left-Handed?

No, you don’t need to take the line out of the spool. You don’t even need to take the reel out of the rod. It will be easier if you do. But it is not a requirement. 

Can You Reverse The Handle On A Fly Fishing Reel? 

Yes, you can. But it is not as easy as with a spinning reel. The good thing is that you won’t need any tools. However, make sure that there is no line on the reel. Here you have the step-by-step process. 

  1. Loosen the knob on the spool. 
  2. Remove the frame.
  3. Flip the spool and remove the cap holding the bearings. 
  4. Give a gentle tap to take the bearings out. 
  5. Reverse the anti-reverse bearing and place it back on the spool.
  6. Place the metal bearing on top.
  7. Screw the cap.
  8. Place the spool into the frame. 
  9. Tight the knob. 

Because we know this is not easy to follow without visual guidance, we locate this video that you might find very helpful. 

Just for a quick heads up! Pay close attention to step 5. You must make sure to flip the correct bearing. If you are unsure which one is the anti-reverse bearing, look at the shape of the metal bearing before undertaking step 4.

Why Do I Need to Flip the Anti-Reverse Bearing? 

The anti-reverse bearing prevents the fly fishing reel from spinning in the opposite direction. Thus, releasing the line from the spool. As a result, it is only logical to flip it as we swap the handle from left to right or vice versa. Otherwise, the spool won’t turn as we crank the handle. 

Why Do I Need To Take The Line Out?

Flipping the anti-reverse bearing basically changes the direction in which the spool spins. As a result, it won’t be possible for the line to come off from the spool. That’s why you should think about the handle disposition before wrapping the line on the reel.

If you are new to fly fishing, you might want to try both combinations first. Even though most people end up placing the handle on their dominant side, others might find having the handle on the opposite side to be more comfortable. 

This problem doesn’t occur with spinning reels because the link between the handle and the spool is not direct. Several gears transfer the movement from the handle to the rotor. They will do so regardless of the handle position. That’s also why fly fishing reels don’t have gear ratios. 

Can I Change The Handle from Right to Left On a Baitcasting Reel?

Nope. Sadly. It is impossible, for now at least, to swap the handle from one side to the other in a baitcasting reel. The main reason has to do with the drag star location. Because it sits on the same side as the handle, you can’t change it to the other side. That’s why these reels retail with left or right-hand-side retrieves. 

Therefore, if you are new to the fishing world, we suggest getting a spinning reel. It is cheaper and easier to use. As we discussed before, you can swap the handles more quicker as well. You can jump into a baitcasting reel once you’ve found which handle position works best for you. 

Left or Right Retrieve? Can I Change It?

There are four types of fishing reels: Fly, spinning, baitcaster, and spincast reels. Only with baitcasters, you are unable to swap the handle from one side to the other.

With spinning and baitcaster reels the process is quite simple. Unscrew the handle. Take the cap off at the other side, and switch places. Keep an eye out for any gaskets or seals. 

The process is a little more complicated with fly fishing reels. Therefore, refer to this video for aid. 

Now that you are here, we invite you to check our comprehensive reviews on spinning, baitcaster, and baitcasting reels!

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