Tim Kempton | Tuesday, 16 February 2021

Casting with your dominant hand can he hard enough. Why then would you make life harder and try and cast with your non dominant or less intelligent hand? It really depends on what sort of fishing you do.

I am a fly fishing tragic and would fish in a bathtub.  I have thoroughly enjoyed the never ending journey of fly casting and fly fishing, and the endless quest to be able to make the cast to catch the fish.  Some of these casts would never pass an instructor's exam, but then this is about fishing not standing in a manicured park casting perfect loops and a piece of wool.  There is a time and place for that.

There were several moments that encouraged me to learn to cast left handed. I was fishing for bonefish with my son in Kiritimati (Christmas Island), and as usual the wind was blowing.  He started swapping hands depending on which way the wind was blowing...being young, agile and ambidextrous, he made it look simple.  He was getting better and faster shots, and better angles and he encouraged me to learn...big call for an old dog to learn new tricks.  It worked.

I was fishing for trout in the lakes in New Zealand with one of my Kiwi mates. He is right handed, and because of the restricted size of his boat, and that it was his boat, back casting all day was problematic.  So I started left handed, and was hopeless at first, but it eventually it allowed us to fish safely two up on his boat.   And I got to fish.

We were fishing for Murray Cod in one of our inland rivers in Australia. A cod was hard up against the bank under a blackberry bush on my right. By changing hands, I was able to get the angle and catch the fish. I suppose a backhand curve cast may also have worked, if you are at that level of casting skill. One of my friends who was with me was so inspired by this that he has persisted to learn left handed.

With fast running fishing (which are most saltwater species), being able to swap hands as you are casting allows you to make the shot and maintain the angles.  As Andy Mills put in in “A Passion for Tarpon” its all about the angles.

Are there any tricks to learning casting with your non dominant hand.  Not really.  The key is making the decision to cast with your non dominant hand. When you do decide...just do it! It will be frustrating, you will miss fish initially, but you will get better with time, IF you persist.  The trap is to swap back to your dominant hand when you see a fish because you don’t want to stuff up the cast. This is where commitment comes in. Initially you will push the rod, but with time you will teach your left hand to guide the rod, and the right hand to haul. This is like patting your head and rubbing your stomach. Right brain/left brain stuff but the persistence does pay off.  Surprisingly you will learn about how much you are overpowering with your dominant hand. 

Is it worth it?

That depends on what type of fishing you do. For me, it taught me a lot about power application, but more about building confidence in having another cast  to suit particular situations to the point where I fish almost as much left handed as I do right handed.  

Again, its about practice.  Become proficient at casting with your non dominant hand. This will open a new world of possibilities. It's all about angles, being able to change direction quickly, fishing more water and making it easier fishing two up on a boat.