i fish without handles when ever i can , through bitter painfull experiance of having my knuckles split to the bone by the handles whipping around on a taking fish .i prefer reels with holes in the front or around the rim as i'b a bit of a twizzler .Batting the drum is also a option (and having your reel facing the other way !).
to twizzle one mearly places your left Index finger either into the rim in a indent or small hole and spin the spool directly (more natual than gripping a handle which can cause cramp) or push your finger into a hole or open area on the facia of the spool and twirl.
ive done it on all of my mine apart from the 2 i use for piking and carping when you simply can get enoguh leverage especially in the when just by gipping the drum when your trying to play a fish.
other than that it wont solve all your tangles, the tangles are slack curls of line slipping over the side of the spool they just get jammed around the reel handle instead. your best bet is to keep practicing and if your really struggling attach something across the spool as a line guard so it can physically run off the sides.
The wider drummed reels are more suited to fishing without handles as they seem to have larger holes near to the rim for insertion of fingers, and the width obviously aids in faster retrieve as you "bat" the float up the peg. You,ll soon get use to using fingers its easy enough.Have the line off the top of the reel,and remember you,ll have to wind anti clockwise, but you,ll soon find it easy, and less "twiddly".But i should imagine if you have a spoked reel it may be more awkward than the reels with the larger holes near to the rim.Keep up the noble art no nicer way of fishing.
I can fit my finger in the holes or spokes and I can actually retrieve the line a lot quicker than using the handles. I'm going for a session on the river on Monday so I've taken the handles off and I'll give it a try.
Discussion on Paul....With the line off the top it is pointing straight down the rod eyes and hence slightly less friction on the butt eye. Also when "batting" you will not have the line near your hand to get caught in as it is up near the rod out of the way...
I cant think of any advantage of having the line off the bottom.
I bought a Speedia Centre Pin in 1961 and took the handles off it the minute I got it home.
I still have the reel and it's still without handles, who needs 'em anyway.
To retrieve line, draw the rod back and bat the spool to retrieve line on the downwards movement, rather like sea fishing, lift and wind down.
Rim pressure applied by the fingers is far better than any clutch mechanism, if anyone gets tangles with a pin it will be because of the over run effect, eradicate it by clicking on the drag when you dont need it to spool off.
Use the drag as a safeguard only to stop free spin.
originally centrepins was fished with the line off the top off the spool and had the reels face the other way ! (handles to the right!) but then the guys at nottingham decided that was pants and switched to having it come off the bottom and now the majority of people have theres the same way as its more natural & efficiant.and these days its customary for right handed people to have thier handles face to the left