How Do You Learn To Cast With Your Non-Dominant Hand?


John or "LC"
Dislocated my shoulder in Oregon three weeks ago, and saw the orthopedist today. This has been an ongoing problem since 1967, but it's been about 10 years since the last one and he couldn't understand why it happened, given the circumstances, which was just a non serious slip and fall.

He started questing me what I was doing, and I said I was getting ready to fly fish. BINGO. He's a fly fisherman too, and told me that casting with that arm is the worst possible motion for my gimped up shoulder, and, along with some PT, I have to learn how to cast with my left arm.

Any tips on how to start, other than just doing it over and over, would be appreciated. Glad I'm avoiding surgery, but not looking forward to starting over as the few times I've tried being a lefty have been pretty pitiful. Thanks!


I hope she likes whitefish


Indi "Ira" Jones
I broke my right wrist in college and needed to learn how to do all sorts of things with my non-dominate hand. Casting really didn't take as long as I thought it would and by the end of few outings I could certainly manage well enough. Now I'm glad I did because there are times now where the wrist still bothers me and it is nice to have a bit of that muscle memory left. It is also helpful on the river when casting with my right is a bit too tight. It is a good skill to have. Good luck!

Once you cast by the way it is easy enough with your condition to just switch hands back to strip and to play the fish, so no problem with switching your reels over.


Active Member
I'm in the same boat as I don't know if my right shoulder will ever support fly casting again. I start therapy tomorrow and in about a month I should know whether or not I'll be a lefty from here on out. My right elbow and hand are still pretty stiff and painful so I have thought of converting over to being left handed. I have been surprised at how fast I learned to use my left hand in the past month. I'm pretty sure I can convert if I have to.

In my case however I will convert all my lines to right hand retrieve if I have to. I probably have about 9 reels and twice that many spools but I will have all winter to get it done so it won't be a big deal. I hate changing hands when I cast as so many fish take the second the fly hits the water.

Sorry to hear about your shoulder. It's no fun being a one armed bandit. But now you will have to abide by the old racers adage: "Run What You Brung". In your case it is a good left shoulder. Good luck and keep us posted on the learning curve.

I also had some tendentious tendonitis in my left elbow (I'm left handed) several years ago and started learning how to cast with my right arm. I made pretty good progress in a relatively short time, but then the tendonitis healed up and I went back to casting with my dominant arm. I started by water loading the cast to get the feel in my right arm and moved from there to false casting. It has come in handy recently as I'm trying to teach my 8-yr old grandson to cast.


Active Member
I've always been quasi-ambidextrous (bats right, throws left, etc), and when I began fly fishing, I just used whichever arm would get me into the corner of the stream best, would work best with the prevailing wind, etc. About half my reels are left-hand retrieve, about half the opposite - I just never bothered to wind them one way or another on purpose. I have noticed that with my left hand, I get better distance, and with my right, more accuracy. FYI, I play racquetball and squash, and switch hands so I rarely hit a backhand. I can tell you, THAT confuses an opponent. I even had one complain, but when a professional squash referee had a clinic, he said there's no rule saying you have to keep the racket in one hand!

Bob Triggs

Stop Killing Wild Steelhead!
As long as your non dominant hand and arm does not have any significant problems you should be able to learn to cast on that side easily. One suggestion that I have for you is for you to get some good, qualified, fly casting instruction by working with a good casting teacher. You will avoid a lot of problems and progress quickly this way. Even some of the best casters will get coached sometimes. One issue that may come up is that, if you are right handed to begin with, you are likely right eye dominant as well. (Or visa versa). And when you begin casting with your non dominant hand, that hand will tend to cross over to your dominant side during the stroke, with your hand ending up in line with the dominant eye. This will seriously impede your casting. A good casting instructor will help you get beyond this. Otherwise it is simply a matter of practice, practice, practice. And make sure that you are practicing the correct form of stroke, so you are not teaching yourself to do a really good job of casting badly.

Kyle Smith

DBA BozoKlown406
I have been learning to use the wrong (right) arm so I can get a good drift/cast anywhere. I started switching just in high-stick situations, then eventually started roll casting. Now I am working on using my new line hand and overhead casting. Re-learning bit by bit keeps it from feeling awkward.
A work associate of mine managed an assembly line in a fuel manufacturing facility for GE.
They found that it took about 3,000 evolutions with the non-dominate hand before a worker developed comfort and competent off hand assembly ability. My guess is that with an hour a day 3-times a week for a month and you will be very good with both hands.