The more you can do to make yourself comfortable while fly fishing, the longer you will last on the water. While comfortable clothes, wading attire and fishing packs are important, your rod and reel are the most essential pieces of your outfit. If these aren’t comfortable to use, your fishing performance will suffer.
Ensuring your retrieve is fitted for the proper hand will help fly fishing feel natural and comfortable.
What hand should I use to reel?
Before you make the decision to change the retrieve on your fly reel, you need to be confident in what hand you would like to use to reel.
Most right-handed anglers are comfortable casting with their right hand and reeling with their left. This allows for smooth transitions between casting and stripping. If you’ve spent time spin fishing and are making the transition to fly fishing, it makes sense to keep your hands doing what they have always done.
If you cast with your left, it makes sense to switch the retrieve to the right hand.
All of Wild Water Fly Fishing's fly reels come in left hand retrieve. Please call us if you would like a left hand retrieve fly reel.
What do I do if I want to change the retrieve?
Your first step when changing the retrieve is to remove the spool from the frame. You can do this by holding back the quick release lever right below the reel handle. DO NOT take off the drag knob to remove the spool. It doesn't work on Wild Water Fly Fishing fly reels.
All Wild Water Fly Fishing fly reels use a one-way clutch bearing to set the retrieve direction of the fly reel.
Once the spool is removed, take a closer look at its inside. There will be a six sided clutch bearing. Some models have the bearing on the spindle and others have it in the spool.
Spool Mounted Clutch Bearings:
Spool clutch bearings are held in place two ways. You’ll see a small metal hexagonal clip that holds the bearing housing in the proper position or there will be a screw cap. The screw cap is easy - just unscrew it.
This hexagonal clip is the trickiest. You’ll take a small screwdriver or pointed tool and pop out one of the ends of the clip from the tabs. This will release the clip, but due to the tension, it has the chance to shoot out of the reel once it is free. Keep your fingers near the clip to prevent it from being lost.
Once the screw cap or clip is removed, flip over the spool. The bearing housing will naturally fall out and need to be reinstalled. Flip it over to change the hand retrieve and replace the screw cap or hexagonal clip you removed a few steps earlier.
When the screw cap or clip is replaced, the reel will be ready for right handed retrieve.
Spindle Mounted Clutch Bearings:
If your clutch bearing is on the spindle you will see a small clip that holds the bearing and drag discs. This clip holds the guts of the reel together so you want to be careful. Start by loosening te drag knob all the way to remove tension on the clip. Then use a small flat head screwdriver or pointed tool to slide the clip out of the groove in the spindle. Cover the clip with your fingers so it does't go flying and get lost. Gently remove the washer, and any shims that are under the clip then remove the clutch bearing. It will be easier if you don't disturb the sliding shaft under the clutch bearing or any of the drag discs. Remove the clutch bearing. Flip it so the opposite side is facing down and reinstall the washers, shims and clip.
The retrieve change is done!
What do I do once I change the reel retrieve?
Your next step is to remove all of the fly line and backing. This needs to be switched otherwise you won’t be able to reel and retrieve in the proper way.
Take the line off by winding it around another reel or a can. Don't try letting the line pile up on the floor. That's a sure way to end up with giant tangle of line.
Before you reattach the backing and fly line, you fully tighten the drag so you’re only able to reel in one direction. It may help to attach the reel to your rod to get a better visual of the hand you’ll be using before you attach the backing and fly line.
If you’re reeling in the proper direction, you’re free to reattach the backing and fly line. Make sure the backing and fly line are properly spooling on your reel. You don’t want to get out on the water only to realize you’re reassembled your reel incorrectly!