Are All Spinning Reels Reversible?

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Written By Russ Egan

Russ is a professional fisherman with over 20 years of experience. He has fished all over the world for more than two decades, primarily for saltwater game fish but also for local trophy fish. Russ comprehensively tests and reviews all his fishing gear to help others achieve their own fishing goals. There is nothing he prefers than heading down to his local tackle store, buying the latest fishing reel, and taking it to the water to test.


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Most, but not all, spinning reel designs have reversible handles.

If you go through life as a left-handed person, you know how many things aren’t designed for lefties. Scissors, writing desks, even material for your hobbies such as fishing reels and rods. Most set-up explainers for fishing reels are done with the assumption that everyone watching is right-handed. If you are left-handed, you will have to switch the way your gear is set up, which often means reversing your reel.

Most spinning reels on the market today are easily reversible to accommodate left- and right-handed people and those with different casting styles. Reversing a spinning reel and changing your set-up is not that hard. However, not all spinning reels are reversible, so you need to make sure that you are working with gear that can do what you want it to do.

Even if you’re not left-handed, there are a few reasons why you might want to reverse your reel. Maybe you have a different casting style or are experimenting with your set-up. Here is a step-by-step guide to this skill.

Russ Egan Bench Testing KastKing Sharky 3 Spinning Reel

Are All Spinning Reels Reversible?

Unfortunately, not all spinning reels are reversible. The good news is that most newer spinning reels are reversible. As long as you get a newer model and make sure that it is reversible, you should be able to pull off the trick of reversing the spinning reel and switching your set-up.

Spinning reels are designed to have the handle on the side of your non-dominant hand. That makes it easier for you to reel in with your non-dominant hand, freeing up your dominant hand to control the rod and guide the fight with the fish. Manufacturers assume most people they are selling to will be right-handed, which is why they put the handle on the left side. If you are left-handed or just want to move your set-up, you need to reverse the spinning reel so the handle is on your non-dominant side.

This is different from a baitcasting reel, which might be a factor in helping you choose between them.

Showing the reverse side of a spinning reel and the screw to undo to release the handle
The Penn Fierce Spinning Reel Handle is Reversible

How to Switch the Handle on a Spinning Reel

Here are the steps you need to follow to reverse your spinning reel.

1. Unscrew the dust cap. The dust cap is a small dial located opposite from your handle that prevents dust from getting into the reel. You can loosen it with your fingers.

2. Unscrew the handle. You can unscrew the handle manually. The trick is just in knowing which way to turn it. If the handle is on the left side of the reel, you loosen it by turning it clockwise. If it is on the right side of the reel, you loosen it by turning it counter-clockwise.

3. Insert the handle in the hole where the dust cap used to be. Most modern spinning reels have holes on either side of the reel for this reason—to make it easier to switch which side the handle is on. You tighten the handle by turning the reel in the same direction you turned the handle on the other side to loosen it. So, if you turn the handle clockwise to remove it from the left side of the reel, once you screw it into the right side of the reel, you tighten it in place by spinning the reel clockwise.

4. Place the dust cap where the handle used to be. Twist the dust cap into place manually until it doesn’t move. This prevents dust from getting into the hole and potentially damaging the interior of your reel while the handle is on the other side.

Switching the reel handle is easy on most spinning reels and doesn’t even require special tools, just your hands. That way, you can adjust your set-up without buying left-handed equipment.

How to Tell If Your Reel Handle Is Reversible

Although most modern spinning reels come with reversible handles, a few still do not. Plus, if you are buying or working with vintage fishing gear, chances are higher that the reel handle won’t be reversible. To know if you’ll be able to switch the reel handle, look out for:

  • The type of reel. Only true spinning reels have reversible handles. Baitcaster spinning reels don’t have the ability to switch.
  • A side cap or dust cap. Side caps indicate that there is a place to switch your handle to on the other side.
  • A screw-on handle. You can switch the side for bolted handles, but the procedure is a bit different.

Final Thoughts

Spinning reels are designed to be used with your non-dominant hand, but most manufacturers assume fishermen are right-handed. To switch your set-up, you can reverse your spinning reel by switching the side of the handle. This is possible for most modern spinning reels.

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