Ambidextrous (adj.), (of a person) able to use the right and left hands equally well.
Lefties are Always Right by Kevin Yeska
Most people would love to call themselves ambidextrous when it comes to bouncing a basketball, writing or simply using a fork. Heck, I struggled so much using my left hand in high school basketball that my coach was hesitant to put me on the left side of the bench! The reality of it was, I wasn’t moving on to play college ball so I focused the limited amount of ambidextrous talent I had on bass fishing. This led me to strengthen my flippin’/pitchin’ skills using my dominant hand in order to gain speed and efficiency on the water.
Like the majority of anglers, I’m right handed. We all grew up fishing a left-hand retrieve spinning reel. Luckily, spinning reels have always given us the option to switch from the left side to the right side depending on what’s most comfortable. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for a baitcasting set up. The industry has yet to create a baitcaster that provides this degree of flexibility for the angler. When it comes time to make that store purchase on a new reel we immediately opt for our comfort level and purchase a left hand retrieve baitcaster if we’re right handed and a right handed retrieve if we were born a lefty. Even though for 90% of my a baitcaster presentations I’m a right hand cranking angler, there is an advantage in using a left hand retrieve for specific situations and techniques. Many anglers don’t realize there’s a loss in reel efficiency; depending on what technique they’re buying it for. It’s time to clear up that misconception and “up” your short game.
3 Is Key
When you dig deep into my rod locker you’ll come across three outfits in particular that help maximize my time on the water and gain me a few more casts every outing. A few more casts could equal a few more catches. A few more catches could equal a few more checks cashed every season. The three setups I’m referencing include:
- Punching Rod
- Flippin’ Stick
- Finesse Pitchin’/Skipping Rod
Setup 1 – The Negotiator
No matter where your travels take you across the country you’re going to find subaquatic vegetation. Whether it be lily pads, coontail, hydrilla or milfoil, vegetation provides an abundance of life that can quickly take the life right out of you after a hookset and a lost fish. To combat this photosynthesizing cover we all know that an extra heavy power – fast action “meat stick” is necessary. We’ll find the right hookset power and leverage in a stout 8’ rod, yet many fail to consider the reel to pair with it. When selecting a reel for punchin’ grass, consider first gear ratio and drag. I‘ve chosen a 13 Fishing Concept A 8:1:1 reel. The Concept A was designed with 22 pounds of bulldog drag. When tightened down you’ll have little to no line “slip” when forcing in a giant. The 8:1:1 gear ratio is very important because of the line collecting speed you’ll gain using it. When that initial hookset is made you only have a few seconds to get that fish into the boat while not allowing any slack to gather in the line. A high gear ratio reel will combat any line slack and help you get that fish in the boat much quicker. I’ll spool this reel with 65# braid, a punch rig (skirt or no skirt depending on conditions), and an 8′-0″ 13 Fishing Envy rod. I gain a lot of efficiency and confidence, when punchin’ on tournament day, with my decision to use a left-hand retrieve baitcaster.
Setup 2 – The Persuaders
It’s now time to reach into that rod locker and dig for probably the best-known rod of all time, a rod every angler has or will own if they’re serious about bass fishing, the Flippin’ Stick. The 7’11” heavy power, fast action rod comes into play when I need to gain a little more finesse in my presentation and when I don’t need to pitch to extremely small targets, such as laydowns, stumps, milfoil grass lines, and more. A lot of guys try to get away with using their 7’11” Flippin’ Stick for punchin’ grass but will soon find the backbone required isn’t quite enough to pull a large fish out of heavy grass cover. This is where two setups can really “up” your game. I pair my Flippin’ Stick with 20# fluorocarbon line vs 65# braid; another reason two separate setups are in my arsenal. Fluorocarbon provides a much quieter and less visible,
finesse presentation compared to braid. In a clear water or highly pressured situation this can be the difference between feast or famine (at the weigh-in scales of course). To remain within a reasonable price range, so we can all afford to have two rods on the deck, I build this setup with the all new ONE3 Fate Black 7’11” Heavy Fast casting rod. The all foam (EVA) split grip handle helps keep the weight of the rod down while also keeping my hands a bit warmer on cold spring mornings when many fish are pushing up towards the bank and a flippin’ technique is necessary. I then turn towards a left-hand retrieve 8:1:1 Concept C casting reel. The lightweight design and heavy drag system (22lbs of bulldog drag) provides confidence and eliminates fatigue when making repetitive flipping or pitching presentations all day.
Setup 3 – The Finisher
Finally, when I need to slip a 3/8oz jig between two dock posts, through a tire, or overtop a dock cable, I’ll reach for my third and final setup. This setup is my Finesse Pitchin’/Skippin’ combo consisting of a 7’6″ One3 Fate Chrome Medium Heavy casting rod paired with a 8:1:1 Inception reel. The smooth spool and 6-way centrifugal braking system of the Concept C helps provide casting accuracy no matter the bait size you’re throwing. Again, I prefer a left-hand retrieve reel spooled with 17# fluorocarbon to help gain speed and efficiency. My rod of choice is a shorter, fast tip rod to assist in roll casting, finesse flipping instances. That being said, I don’t settle for a rod without backbone. Remember, when you make a cast between two dock posts, through a tire, or overtop a dock cable you now have to get a fish out from that spot. A stout, medium heavy power rod will haul them out.
Why go Dominant?
We now have our three combos on the deck all rigged with left hand retrieve casting reels. The major advantage you’ll find in pitchin’ and flippin’ with these three setups is you won’t have to switch hands every single time you’re making a flip. The time-lapse photos below demonstrate the difference in using a right-handed vs left-handed retrieve baitcaster. You’ll notice that as a right-handed angler, I naturally want to flip with my dominant hand. When using a right-hand retrieve reel, this in turn forces me to switch the rod to my left hand just before the bait touches the water. Depending on the depth of water you’re fishing you may not always have that 1/2 second grace period to switch hands and collect yourself before a bite. That’s why I’ve trained myself to flip with my dominant right hand and reel with my left. It’s now a natural movement, one that takes less time and, most importantly, has less room for error. The next time you consider a shallow water, heavy cover setup commit to purchasing a cranking reel that uses your dominant hand to hold the rod from cast to hook set. Within a few hours of practicing in the backyard you’ll be utilizing both hands and ready to make the game winning flip!