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Only ever rapped my knuckles once on a hot fish, and then never again because ouch-learning works. Knuckle busters can happen with a right-hand hovering close to the handle too.
Some of us apparently need to retest the theory from time to time. So far my personal data has been 100% consistent: hurts every damn time I do it! I have found that RHW, and LHW reels are equally effective, and painful, at busting knuckles. Why I keep needing to retest that is one of life’s great mysteries
JB
 

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That’s weird. I don’t get why they were right handed back then...did people learn to cast with their left hand? Or did they always switch hands from casting to reeling? I noticed all the old Hardy’s are RHW, but I just figured that was the English being difficult...like the whole left hand driving thing.
I think you may have hit the nail on the head here. Blaming those stubborn Brits is always the right answer...and don’t confuse things by searching any further. Problem solved!
JB
 

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I was discussing this recently on the river, and my fishing associate, who always beckons back to his fly shop/guide days, and is always undoubtedly sure of his answers, rather they are correct or not, said it was because before two-handers, single-handed casters trout fishing preferred reeling with the same hand that they cast with because they didn't want to tire out that hand fighting fish. So, cast with the right, reel with the right, hold the cork during the fight with the left and you'll tire out your non-casting hand instead of your casting hand. It just carried over with time, presumably. I guess there's some logic there.

I don't know why anyone would use this reasoning with a two-hander and steelhead/salmon/etc., seeing that both fighting and reeling hands probably get an equal workout on a direct-drive 1:1 reel.

This might be something an old-timer can confirm or deny, as I cannot, and neither can my source.
I'm kinda old, but prefer to think the old-timers have twenty years on me. I don't recall any of them being that delicate, to be worn out catching fish and have to balance the fatigue.
 

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I have been fishing a long time and have never reeled with my right hand...and I can’t see why a right handed person would...so why are 90% of the Reels on Spinoza RHW?
I have been fly fishing for over 50 years and have always reeled right hand, but then i do cast with my left hand ;)
 

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Spey Is The Way
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I'm with bwodun, particularly on a two handed rod. I found the reel handle continuously catching on my clothing or digging into my thigh the short time I tried to switch to left. Also in switching after many years of reeling right I couldn't get the line on the spool properly. I was all thumbs. I stayed right.

Leo
 

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Jim Williams (formerly of Just Reels), he used to post on here, I think he answered this one a while back, may be worth doing the search.
He said that if you were a right hander, there's no way you can reel in as fast with the left hand. As I recall he said that's why all the salties reel in right handed. So I guess if you had fish (big chinook, some steelhead) which stripped lots of line and backing and you needed to get the line and backing in in a hurry then it'd be worthwhile having it on the right (or get a multiplier!).
 

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The tradition goes back an awfully long time. I have no idea why British anglers decided that the correct way to reel was right handed. I know that when I started fly fishing in the 60’s there were very few fishermen reeling left handed. Spinning reels hadn’t been around that long and it was common to see someone trying to reel one upside down with their right hand. I think as time has gone by, most fly fishermen came to the sport by way of
The spinning rod which by and large is a
Left hand reel operation. I prefer to reel right handed for a number of reasons. The fishing I prefer to do requires shooting heads, mono running line and involves large fish making very strong runs. Having the handle to the outside helps reduce the chances of the running line catching on the reel handle or having the handle catch on my clothing. The shooting heads allow for effortless long casts. Turning the rod sideways as the line shoots allows it to flow contacting the guides without slapping the rod and increasing friction. Again this places the handle up out of the way. I prefer to have my strongest hand reeling when recovering hundreds of feet of line and backing. I have done it both ways. I have never experienced any problem moving the rod from one hand to the other even in the wildest of circumstances. Finally, if you tune into the televised bass tournaments and watch the pros you will see that they have no problem switching hands even with thousands of dollars at stake. When fishing for small fish I couldn’t care less which hand I reel with. I usually strip them in anyway.
These are only my opinions based on my experiences. Your mileage may vary.
 

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Owning each of the freshwater models from 1899 until 1990, apart from the Jewell, as far as I know they were all made to be right handed.

Malcolm
So I guess it’s not just a fly fishing thing then. There go all the that so the reel won’t hit you and trout fishermen like the reel on the right hand side business. Another interesting thing I’ve noticed is that the old hardy altex spinning reels that I see for sale a lot of them are left hand retrieve. There’s definitely a good amount of right handed ones around but more left hand ones it seems to me.
 

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Discussion Starter #34
Jim Williams (formerly of Just Reels), he used to post on here, I think he answered this one a while back, may be worth doing the search.
He said that if you were a right hander, there's no way you can reel in as fast with the left hand. As I recall he said that's why all the salties reel in right handed.
I just watched The Lost World of Mr.Hardy, and the problem with the saltwater explanation is that it was only the ultra rich doing it (they point out you needed a yacht and crew for Tuna). and that came along quite a while after the reel design had been well established. I mean the reasoning sounds correct for fishing big, fast saltwater species, but it doesn't explain why all the small water trout fishers were reeling right handed.

They did say that they saw the reel as only a line holder, which was actually what I was told when I started fly fishing with my grandfather back in the 1970's. That being the case, I generally fought fish without using the reel at all. I just stripped line, and created drag by holding the line against the cork. The only time this changed was fishing large fish when you had to palm the reel, but that was rare with trout.

When it came to steelhead my grandfather used 50 lb test with a treble hook on one end and the other tied to a shovel handle. He had to feed 7 children on a schoolteachers salary and wasn't too concerned about the sport as much as free food. My father generally chucked M80's into a hole rather than bothering with a rod and all of that.

I am the blacksheep of the family, choosing to catch and release and using "sporting" techniques. I think I will remain a blacksheep by reeling left handed. at this point I am too old to change I think. Just be glad I am not snagging and bombing fish I guess.
 

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Most Hardy Altex reels were left hand wind, as are/ have been, most fixed spool reels generally - the thinking being that its was better to cast with the mostly dominant right hand plus 'feather' the line with the forefinger, using the left to wind. Somewhere I have a photo of an unused boxed Altex 2 complete with original packing and wrapped accessories, not many of those around. Here are two diminutive Altex 1's, one on the left with the 'mechanical bail' from the 1930's.

Malcolm

DSCF5475 copy.JPG
 

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Most Hardy Altex reels were left hand wind, as are/ have been, most fixed spool reels generally - the thinking being that its was better to cast with the mostly dominant right hand plus 'feather' the line with the forefinger, using the left to wind. Somewhere I have a photo of an unused boxed Altex 2 complete with original packing and wrapped accessories, not many of those around. Here are two diminutive Altex 1's, one on the left with the 'mechanical bail' from the 1930's.

Malcolm

View attachment 376830
Oh man beautiful reels! I’m looking to pick up a right hand retrieve one to go on a old bamboo spinning rod I have. It was my grandfathers rod made by gene Edwards brother probably mid 1930’s. Rod is 7’ Long and is definitely strong! I landed a 12-14lb steelhead on it no problem the first time I used it! What size you think would be a good fit? I’m thinking the size 2? Cheers!
 

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Right hand wind Altex 2 reels seem to be very few and far between, and depending on how you fish, have relatively slow retrieve. Have you considered the Hardy Exalta which, for the sake of this thread.. has changeable right or left hand wind and are similar in many ways to the Altex. In production 1958 - 1965, the Exalta was not made in the quantities that the Altex's were, but the retrieve is higher and it has the very cool reversible 'saddle' (foot). Similar to the Altex's, Exalta's also have the worm drive gear; it was to be the last fixed spool reel by Hardy's and made in one size only.
The Exalta Mk 2 shown with an unused Altex 2, is equally unused..coming originally from the Granville Island Museum in Vancouver.

Malcolm
 

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Sweet reels! I found a size 2 in right ha d wind on UK tackle dealer site. When I fish hardware I prefer to let the spinner or spoon swing in the current so retrieve speed isn’t super important although it’s nice for that really slow water when you want toss a cast in and see what gives chase! Lol
 

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Good to hear, I suggest a visit to the Traditional Anglers Forum (UK)- many devotees of Altex's there, look in Traditional Reels to take you to the Hardys. One thing to watch for are worn examples of Altex's, one of many topics of discussion..
 

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And as a child casting right and retrieving right with a fly rod, I cast right and retrieved left with a spinning rod. Don't ask, I don't know. Just the was it was done.
 
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