What Hand Do You Hold A Fishing Rod In? 6 Reasons Why

  • Author: Ted Jones
  • Date: March 23, 2023

What Hand Do You Hold Fishing Rod in?

In this article we are going to cover six reasons about what hand do you hold a fishing rod in and why it matters?

However before we get into the finer points of why, in the end it doesn’t really matter if you are having fun and catching some fish. So feel free to hold the rod in any hand. But, if you want some reasons why and improve you’re fishing skills, then read on.

Some anglers will disagree with me, (and that is okay), but you hold your rod in your dominant hand, that is your main hand and wind the reel with your non-dominant hand.

As an example, a right handed person will cast the rod with their right hand and hold the rod in their right hand as they wind with their left (non-dominant) hand.

For a left handed person, they hold the rod in the left hand for casting and playing a fish. They hold the rod in their left hand and wind the reel handle with their right hand.

To learn how to switch reel handle sides, click on – How To Change A Fishing Reel Handle

Why Does It Matter What Hand Do You Hold A Fishing Rod In?

We will go over the pros for fishing this way in more detail below, but here are the main points and benefits of holding your rod in your dominant hand and keeping it there.

  • Save time
  • More hook ups
  • Less mistakes
  • Stronger
  • More endurance
  • More dexterity


Save time

Most of my fishing buddies who are right handed, hold their rod in their right hand to cast, then swap hands with the rod to the left hand and wind with their right. Now this takes a lot longer to do.

As well as saving time by not swapping hands, you also spend more time efficiently and effectively fishing.

If you cast lures all day long, the extra milliseconds of swapping hands are seconds lost effectively fishing. While mere seconds doesn’t sound much, but if you cast a lure hundreds of times, this time can add up.

The more time the bait / lure is in the water the more chance you have of catching a fish.

If you are lure casting in shallow water with weeds or snags, by keeping the rod in your dominant hand, you can wind straight away, saving time again and less snags. As the lure can sink into the weeds by wasting time swapping hands.

You can work the top water straight away if you keep the rod in the same hand, as you can wind straight away.


More Hook Ups

Contact with the bait, or lure is never lost.

If you cast out and a fish strikes while you are swapping hands, you have more chance of losing the fish. If you have the rod already in your dominant hand you are ready to strike the fish at any time.


Less Mistakes

Some fish will strike the second the lure hits the water, so it is good practice to be ready and have the rod in the dominant hand. By swapping the rod over, you might fumble if the fish strikes and you do not swap the rod over quickly.

In a high stress situation (seeing a huge fish on your line, or the rod really bending over because it is a big fish) you are more likely to make mistakes by changing hands.

Even if you don’t fumble when changing hands, you are more likely to grip the rod incorrectly or in an uncomfortable position if you swap hands quickly.

For night fishing if you are unfamiliar with your fishing rod set up, you can make more mistakes.



You can get more leverage for strong arming a big fish with your dominant hand holding the rod.


More Endurance

Have you ever played a big fish for a long time? Then you will know what I am talking about.

As well as strength, you can fight a fish for longer with your dominant hand holding the rod.

As the gear ratio when you wind the fishing line in is very quick and the reels are very smooth when winding, you don’t need much endurance or strength for winding modern spinning reels.


More Dexterity

Have you ever tried to brush your teeth with non-dominant hand? It can be hard to do a complex movement like this. If you are retrieving a lure, fly or bait, you can twitch the rod easy, jig it, change directions and steer a fish in any direction with your preferred hand.

Some might say it takes skill to wind a reel, but with today’s modern reels it isn’t a fine motor skill of winding in the bait, lure, fly or fish in. Flipping the bail over doesn’t take much skill either.

If you are right handed, holding the rod in your right hand is easier to steer the fish in side to side and avoid snags.


Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs

Here are some questions about which hand you hold the fishing rod in and what hand you wind with.


What is a right handed fishing reel?

With a right-hand fishing reel, the handle is on the right-hand side.


What is a left handed fishing reel?

The fishing reel handle is on the left side.


How to change a fishing reel from right to left handed

On most reels the handle is on the right side, luckily you can change most fishing reels from right to left handed with a few steps.

Some reels will be different, but most are similar. Here is how to change the handle.

  1. You just unscrew the cap on the other side of the fishing reel handle. Be careful you don’t drop any parts off it when you unscrew it.

(If you are fishing, place a hat or piece of clothing under it, so if you do drop a small piece, it won’t disappear into the dirt/grass/water.)

  1. Take the handle out and replace it in the other side.
  2. Screw the end cap back on securely.


Is a fishing rod left or right handed?

Rods can be used for both right and left hands. You don’t have to worry about the rod, as it will suit both hands without having to change anything.


Are spinning reels right and left-handed?

Most fishing reel manufacturer’s design the reels so they can be changed from right handed to left handed.

But just double check the reel handle can be changed easy when buying any reels.


Should I reel with my right or left hand?

From our points and reasons above, hold the rod in your stronger dominant hand, cast with this same hand and reel with your other hand.


How to tell if a fly reel is left or right handed?

Most reels will be set up for left handed wind.


What side should the fly reel handle be on?

If you are right handed dominant, then you cast and fight the fish with your right hand holding the rod, you wind the fly reel with your left hand.


Are spinning reels ambidextrous?

You can change most reels to suit whatever side you want the reel handle on.


What are the benefits of winding with your right hand for a fly rod?

To be fair in this discussion, we have included this link from the Orvis website that has some points about why you should always reel with your right hand.

Although we don’t agree with every point, one good point listed in the debate in that you hold or wind whatever hand you are comfortable with. We can’t argue with that.



To save time and have more control, cast the rod in your dominant hand and keep it in the same dominant hand. As this hand is stronger to hold the rod and fight the fish. Wind the reel with your non-dominant hand, as this hand doesn’t need to be as strong.

If you swap your hands when you cast, you might fumble the rod and make a mistake, especially if you have a big fish on.

No matter what hand you prefer to have the rod or reel in, either way go fishing and have some fun!

Author – Ted Jones