Bait casters are one of the most popular fishing reels, especially in the bass fishing community, due to their ability for accurate casting and smooth retrieval of lures. Bait casters will have a handle on the side to rotate the spool to take up the line. The handle is split into two lengths with a knob at each end which you grip to wind the handle. This effectively gives the bait caster two handles. Why is it necessary for a bait caster to have two handles?

Bait caster reels have two handles for convenience to make the handles easier to find without looking at the reel. The double handles also provide additional balance when reeling in to ensure a smooth action and also give the option for more power when you need to crank on the reel.

The bait caster handle has two grip points on the handle shaft, which essentially gives you two handles to choose from when starting to reel in your lure. Is this design merely for the purpose of convenience, or does it have a particular benefit for the fisherman?

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The Reason Bait Casters Have Two Handles

Small bait casters are the most popular type of reel among bass fishermen, particularly in the United States, but these reels are known worldwide for their power when fighting aggressive fish.

Large bait caster reels are generally only used on big rods for deep-sea angling, which hints at the purpose of these reels and the reason they are preferred for fish that put up a fight, such as the ocean-going game fish.

Two Handles Are Easier To Find

The first reason that the bait caster reels have two handles is one of convenience. If you are not looking at the rod and reel but focusing your attention on the lure or the fish on the end of the line, then having two handles are easier to find than one.

Instead of fumbling around to find the single handle, your hand will more easily find one of the two handles without you having to take your eyes off the fish you are fighting.

This means that you do not have to take your eyes off the business end of your fishing line when you are fighting the fish.

While this benefit is convenient, it is only one reason for the two handles on this reel. The other reasons, some would argue, are more important than this one.

Two Handles Offer More Balance

The second reason that a bait caster has two handles is balance. A bait caster reel is different from a spinner reel in that the drum on the bait caster reel rotates to take up the slack in the line and reel in the lure or the fish attached to it. On spinner reels, the spool drum does not rotate, but rather, the handle turns the bail, which winds the fishing line onto the spool or the drum.

Because the drum or spool of the bait caster reel does the turning, the handle needs to be balanced so that the rotation of the drum is smooth when reeling in the lure or the fish. If the handle was not balanced, the torque would cause uneven loading of the line onto the spool.

Uneven loading of the line onto the spool will cause problems the next time you cast the line out, which may result in an overwind, a backlash of the line, or a bird’s nest! Whatever you call it, if you have experienced a backlash when casting a bait caster reel, it is an experience you would rather forget!

Your line ends up being one horrific tangled mess around the spool of the reel, and you can spend the next hour untangling the bird’s nest instead of fishing and wasting valuable fishing time out on the water!

It is, therefore, important that the reeling in provides a balanced action for the spool to operate as smoothly as possible and ensure the line is evenly spread across the spool.

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Bait Casters Have More Power

The last reason that there are two handles on a bait caster reel is for additional power when reeling in the fish. When you are fishing with a spinner reel, it is the rod that takes the brunt of the force when fighting the fish rather than the reel. With the spinner reel, the rod is the main part of the tackle that is used to fight the fish and land it.

When you are using a bait caster reel, it is the reel that does the fighting of the fish rather than the rod. The bait caster is also intended to have more power to drag heavier crankbaits through the water as well as to have the ability to cast heavier lures.

Think of the bait caster like a winch that is used to pull your truck out of the mud. The bait caster reel works on a similar principle.

For this reason, the bait caster reel needs to have more power, and it is also for this reason that these reels are used on smaller fishing rods.

Because the bait caster reels have more power, you can really crank down on the handles to work the power of the reel. Sometimes the second handle can be used to really crank a heavy fish by gripping one handle with the four fingers of the hand, placing the thumb against the second handle, and using this lever action, twist the handles around.

Baitcaster Reel

Can You Get Left-Handed Bait Casters?

Traditionally, bait casters have the handle located on the righthand side of the reel. While this makes sense in that the reel is where the power is rather than the rod and, thus, it is better to have the reel controlled by your dominant hand, it does pose a casting problem.

If you are righthanded, you will cast most accurately with your right hand. You will also have more control over the rotation of the drum during the cast with your dominant hand. For righthanded fishermen, this means that they will cast with their right hand and then switch the rod over to their left hand in order to operate the reel handles with their right hand.

While this may seem inefficient and counterintuitive, most fishermen have gotten used to this hand swapping after casting and have become quite dexterous at the task. Most of us seasoned fishermen do it without even thinking about it, and it feels like a natural action.

In more recent years, bait casters have become available on the market that have the handles on the left-hand side.  This is great for left-handed fishermen because now they will be able to use their dominant hand to control the reel and use their weaker right hand to steady the rod.

With these left-handed reels, however, the left-handed person would have to employ the same casting technique as a right-handed person. They would have to cast the lure out with their left hand, swap the rod over to their right hand, and then use their left hand to control the handle of the reel.

Before the bait casters came out with handles on the left, the left-handed fisherman had no option but to use reels with the handles on the right. This meant they had to control the reel handle with their non-dominant hand, which is not ideal.

Final Thoughts

Bait caster reels are superb reels when it comes to cast and retrieve style fishing and fishing for fish that put up a significant fight.

Many fishermen have probably not given much thought as to why these popular reels have two handles associated with them and have simply grown accustomed to using them. The double-handles configuration is, however, integral to the balance, handling, and performance of the reel and gives a much smoother action to the drum of the reel when retrieving the line.

The double handle also means that you can exert additional force when you need to so that you can handle the additional weight of whatever is at the other end of the line.


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