Changing Hand Orientation for a Right Handed Fly Fishing Reel
If you’re a lefty, you may often wonder why the world isn’t fair at all. Kidding aside, and when it comes to fishing, a really common problem is how to shift a right handed fly fishing reel to a left handed one.
Shifting a right handed fishing reel (which follows the order of having a right hand cast and a left hand retrieve) to a left handed one is simple.
Take note that fishing reel models may vary, but the basic steps apply for all. We hope that the guide below will help you get your bearings right - after all, your gear should adjust to you, and not the other way around!
Let’s break down the process:
Setting the Change Up
Make sure that your workplace is clear from debris or the like. You will be working with small parts. Misplacing these parts is definitely a hassle you wouldn't want to encounter. Depending on your fly fishing reel model (particularly, the spinning reel variants), you may need a screwdriver.
You'll want to make sure your line is spooled right to go with your hand orientation shift. We will discuss more about this later.
Once you're ready, have your reel positioned faced up.
Remove the reel from the handle
There may be other models that come with screws, but a spinning reel only requires you to remove the screws, to pull the handle out of the fishing reel, and reinserting the handle in the opposite screw opening.
Take Out the Arbor
Once you successfully removed the reel from the handle, you'll have to remove the arbor from the reel. To do this you'll either need to unscrew the cap in the center of the arbor, or push on the little tongue to release it. Bottom line is, this step depends on the manufacturer. Once done you'll Now, you would want to remove the spool from the arbor. Do this by simply applying some pressure on it. Doing so will allow you to simply lift the reel off.
Inspect the Inside, Remove the Retention Clip
Once the inside is exposed, you'll see that a hexagonal retention clip holds the bearing in place. Your job will be to remove this retention clip. This is a bit tricky - you have to push on the side of the clip, and get it out while pushing on it without letting it jump away.
Remove the Bearing Cylinder
Here's one of the most important steps. Your bearing determines your reel's direction. So you need to make sure that it's set up right with the change you're making.
Remove the bearing cylinder. You may notice that as the cylinder comes out, that it has got a certain texture or side facing up. Take note of this appearance so that you won't get confused once you've made the adjustment.
Reverse the Bearing Cylinder and Put It Back
Next, turn that certain side of the cylinder over, making the other side to face up. Once that's done, simply place the cylinder back in.
This may take a bit of work to get it back but sooner or later you'll find success.
Replace the Retention Clip
The next step is to simply replace the retention clip back to the top of the bearing barrel. Make sure this is firmly done (you would know that you’ve done it properly if the clip sits firmly in its groove).
Put the Arbor Back on the Reel Housing
Next, take the arbor and place it back into the reel housing.
Place the Reel on the Rod for Left Handed Casting
The fly fishing reel hand orientation conversion is almost done! The last step is to turn the reel around (180 degrees) then placing it back in the reel seat.
We’re doing this because of the line’s direction. If the original setting is set at clockwise, then you’d need to go counter-clockwise once you’ve made the shift.
A Concern on Spooling and Unspooling the Line
Considering that you've done all the steps above, you would all know need to consider unspooling and/or spooling your line. Why is this important? Simply put, it isn't as simple as reversing the reel for you to start fishing. This has to be done carefully - a damaged reel is like dealing with a pesky headache! Check the steps below for two of the most common methods:
Power Drill Unspooling Method
This method involves the use of a spinning spool powered by an electric drill. Fast and easy, you'll be able to unspool a fishing line in a convenient manner.
Prep it Up
Here's what you need for this method:
- A spinning reel spool (that comes with the fishing line that needs to be removed from it).
- The electric power drill.
- A screw and a fitting nut.
- A screwdriver (one that fits loosely in the inside of your spinning reel spool).
- A plastic bottle with the cap. The larger the bottle the faster the unspooling will be.
Make the Despooling Bottle - Drill a Hole in the Cap
The first step is simply to drill a hole in the cap. You'll use this hole to insert a screw.
Put a Screw in the Hole
For the next step, insert a tightly fitting screw in the hole, and secure it in place tightly with a nut.
Put the Device Together
Finally insert the screw into the drill as if it was a drill-bit. When you turn on the drill the bottle will rotate. Note always start at a low speed to avoid any accidents.
You Unspool Me Round Like a Record!
The next step is to fix the end of your fishing line onto the bottle. A combination of arbor knot and duct tape works really well for this.
Now, insert your screwdriver into the spool (make sure that inserting it will still allow the spool to spin smoothly). With that secured, hold onto the screwdriver. Your available hand will operate the power drill, spooling all the fishing line into the despooling bottle.
Once all of the fishing line have been spooled onto the bottle, simply snip it off with your scissors.
Spooling a Fishing Line onto a Reel
Knowing how to properly spool a fishing line is important. Doing so will help you avoid pesky snags or line twists - factors that may break your momentum when catching game! Here's the basic flow:
Setting it Up
Locate the tag end of your fishing line. Once you've done that, attach that end to your reel.
Now, how would you attach that end? There are numerous ways to do so (some do require some help from pro shops, which defeats the purpose of doing it yourself!), but the most common way is to secure it with an arbor knot.
What is an Arbor Knot?
This is essentially a type of knot that ties itself around the main fishing line, with the other half located at the end of the line. The latter half serves as a stopper once you have pulled the fishing line in a tight manner.
Now, an arbor knot works really well for fluorocarbon and monofilament fishing lines. But for braid lines, a simple application of electrical tape would do well in attaching it to the reel. This is because braid fishing lines usually are coated - doing an arbor knot will not work since it'll just slip.
Do note that the arbor knot and electrical tape workarounds are suited for reels that do not have whiffings on it. Whiffings are essentially small holes for you to attach your fishing line. If your reel comes with whiffings, then so much the better! If not, then you've got the tips above to guide you!
Know the Direction
Here's the tricky part - which direction should you spool? A common mistake most do is to simply spool it backwards. Doing so will just give you a headache, with the line potentially snagging or coiling awkwardly.
This is because fishing lines are meant to be used in a certain direction. You need to take note of which direction the fishing line is coming off the filler spool. Once you've got that, use that same direction towards the corresponding reel.
It may take some time getting used to, but a really nice visual analogy is a cassette tape. Notice the two wheels of the cassette where the tape winds up? Both flow in one direction, but one side take the tape end from top to bottom; the other from bottom to the top. Your filler spool and reel should work the same way as well with the fishing line!
Good to Know: Fishing Line Memory
A nice bit of trivia that you may want to know about most fishing lines is that they have memory. Fluorocarbon and monofilament (both nylon fishing lines) have memory, which causes both fishing lines to move only in a certain direction. Braid does not have any memory.
Fishing line memory can't exactly be removed, considering factors like temperature and constant installation (with no movement) in a reel. If needed, certain sprays will help make your fishing lines lose memory (which would make it more flexible, avoiding snags), stretching the fishing line, or boiling the spool in hot water for a few minutes.
Nice and Easy Tension
Now that you've got the direction right, start spooling! But make sure to keep some tension on it.
You do not want to have loose fishing lines. Doing so will cause an overrun - a backlash on the reel, which causes the line to spin faster than usual (and in effect, making you lose the fishing line).
Loosely spooled fishing lines will also have the tendency to cut into the other lines spooled on the reel. Frayed fishing lines, or worst, breakoffs are likely to happen because of this.
Applying tension can simply be done by pinching your fingers down the fishing line when spooling onto the reel. Take note not to pinch too hard, though. Fishing line burn is a pesky injury!
Just the Right Amount of Fishing Line
Now, just how much line do you need to spool on your reel? It wouldn't be so much of a problem if you've unspooled your line and spooling it back because of changing hand orientation. But for filler spools and reels, it may be a problem.
This is because overfilling and underfilling a fishing line are both problematic. Aside from tangles, too much fishing line may become brittle or absorb water. Too little fishing line will cause more friction and your casting distance may simply be way off than what you've calculated.
A simple way to gauge just how much fishing line needs to be spooled is through an eyeball test. Most reel manufacturers follow a 1/16 to 1/8 inch from the edge of the spool. Having that amount of space should give your fishing line enough room to expand and flow smoothly when casting.
Here are some helpful links in knowing more about fly fishing reel conversion and spooling: