The thread about the $150 Pate reel and the old Left vs Right discussion reminded me of a happening about 4 years ago. It was the wildest fish fight I ever got into.

Background: First off, all my reels in recent history have been RH wind, Left hand drag knob. So that is what I am completely and irrevocably programmed for now.

4 or 5 years ago, I went tarpon fishing with a buddy of mine. He caught one fish and our next anchor down resulted in him snapping off the tip of my 12 wt with the anchor locker lid, so he handed me his rod outfitted with a Pate reel. By now it was dark, and fish were boiling all around us. My second cast resulted in a hookup, but the drag was too lightly set.

The Pate Tarpon reel is a right hand retrieve reel, but my left hand could feel no drag knob - it was totally missing! Finally, either I realized it was on the right side or Apple told me, and I finally found it - just before the fish quit jumping and started a long run.

But I turned it the Wrong Way! The reel went zzzzzzzzzzZZZZZZZZZZZZ..... then abruptly slammed to a stop - with a horrible backlash . We keep the tarpon ball overboard and the rope snapped to a convenient place, so we were already free. Apple knew exactly what my scream of "OH, ****!" meant following the instant stop of the screaming outgoing line, and we became the dogs chasing the rabbit with a 70 or 80 ' leash.

This particular rabbit was running with a strong current and since it was not possible to pressure him enough while chasing after him, made it to a bridge about 3/4 mile away which would never had happened with my own reel. He didn't like Fl Bay and was intent on going back to Cuba or wherever he came from on the other side of the bridge.

Instead of just popping him off, we, idiots that we are, took this as a challenge and managed to get him boatside (long before Cuba of course) after going around and through bridge pilings, but there was a lot of driving skill and communication involved throughout, and my legs got a workout like they hadn't had in years.

So, I would suggest that it may be best to stick with one retrieve or the other; and, further, if you are going out with a guide for a fish of a lifetime using his gear, make sure he has whatever wind you are used to with a drag knob where you are used to - especially if you are accustomed to changing drag setting multiple times during a fish fight. Most direct drive reels are quick to change over, but a spare spool is required, of course, loaded the proper direction with line and backing.

If that's not possible, then set the drag initially to the anticipated highest setting you figure you'll need (before you start casting) , then do not change it till the fish is close to boatside. It's a pain to repeatedly strip out line against 4 or 5 lbs of drag, such as is often necessary if blind casting. (The modern "low startup inertia, large arbor" reels can wind in as much as half a foot of line per cast when blind casting). But it is far preferable to the possible alternatives such as that above.