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Bucksnort 01-12-2020 10:02 AM

Right vs Left Handed Fly Fishers
Please note the political correctness in the title.

About a hundred years ago, an article titled, "Read Any Good Water Lately?" appeared in a Fly Fisherman magazine, which is where I learned about riffles, runs, flats and pools but only being the second greatest fly fisherman in the world, I still have a lot to learn. After 40 years of fly fishing, one would think I would know all about this topic.

A neighbor, who does not fish, loaned me a book titled, "How To Read Water",
Clues And Patterns From Puddles to the Sea. The author is Tristan Gooley. He does not fly fish. In one chapter, he addresses trout fishing relative to reading water. A friend, Stuart, who does fly fish, took him to a stream for a day of fishing. Stuart was was pointing out places where trout hang out.

I am paraphrasing a section. Stuart's finger darted out regularly toward a patch of calmer water on the other side. I asked him why he was only pointing at the pockets on the far side; surely there were some good spots on our side? Stuart said, you are right. It's because I'm right handed." He made a casting gesture with his right arm and pointed at the far bank. Right handers will see the river differently from left handers (huh?). Stuart said if he walks a river with a left-hander we will zero in on different spots. Stuart also said he tricks himself into believing he will cast with his left hand to reveal pockets he would never have spotted otherwise.

This angler might be related to the dude who said you kill more trout nymphing than with dry flies.

So, someone needs to do some splaining about how right and left handed fly anglers see water differently.

invasionqt 01-12-2020 10:36 AM

I don't know about seeing the water differently, but having your casting arm adjacent to the water is handy. One of my fishing partners is a lefty and when we work small streams he is on the opposite side from me. Just my thought and observation.

Bucksnort 01-12-2020 02:30 PM


Makes sense. The author did not say anything about being on opposite sides of a stream. I assume he meant they are on the same side.

Plateau Angler 01-12-2020 07:22 PM

When I take clients out with little to no experience, I tend to fish differently than with an experienced angler. Since it sounds like the author wasn’t an angler, I expect his friend was pointing out “easy” pockets for a right handed angler. The near side pockets generally require the ability to cast from further back so as to not spook the trout and thus better line management, something the author probably couldn’t do the first day out on the water. All of that said, sometimes you have to get creative when explaining why you’re skipping spots. Most people don’t want to hear that they are skipping spots because they are terrible anglers... :)

BunsbertMontcroffEsq 01-13-2020 08:05 AM

Bucksnort, it makes sense but couldn't a right-hander just use a back cast or backhand cast to reach the left-hand spots?

joe 01-13-2020 10:39 AM

I use the same logic on ponds. As a right hander I fish clockwise around a pond casting parallel with the shore which also reduces backcast hang-ups.

Tying2Fly 01-14-2020 07:47 AM

After reading all of this I thought it might be an advantage to learn to fly fish with either hand, but then thought about the problem with that is my reel is setup for rod in right-hand and I reel with the left which is the side the knob of my reel is on.

DrLogik 01-15-2020 07:46 PM

I'm right-handed but can cast equally well righty or lefty. It didn't used to be that way. The short story is I trained myself to cast lefty...all the time. Why? Because I was frustrated I couldn't cast effectively to difficult fish as a righty only.

What I instinctively found was I could focus on spots that I could cast to, that years ago I couldn't. Because of that, I then opened my mind to all places I "could" cast and then I started seeing things differently.

For example, fishing upstream on the right hand side of the stream there is a tree over-hanging with branches above and in the water and hanging over the shore also. For a righty, if a fish is in the middle of that tangle, it's a really hard cast because you generally have to back-hand cast because/and all of the branches will be in the way.

For a lefty, only the branches over the water are in the way and the lefty can cast normally or sidearm. I figured this out one day because I would 9 times out of 10 prefer to fish the left bank of a stream and I found myself fishing the right bank of the stream also.

How'd I train myself? I cast my rod every day, every day, for at least 30 minutes rain or shine for a year. If on a day it wasn't working, I quit so I wouldn't develop bad muscle memory. A great instructor told me to do that btw.

Bucksnort 01-26-2020 08:56 AM

Dr. Logik, which is the right side of a stream and which is the left?

We all do what is necessary to catch trout.

My philosophy is, "semper gumbi" (always flexible)

Bucksnort 02-01-2020 08:36 AM

Esq (counselor),

Your explanation is they way I see it. A pocket/run/hole/flat/pool/riffle or whatever you call them is just that, a pocket/run/hole/flat/pool or riffle. You fish them right handed or left handed, whatever the situation dictates.

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