First Look Inside the Tank that is the New Shimano Tranx 300 Baitcaster
experiencing what the reel delivered in the field I was eager to take a closer
look at how the reel was engineered. I brought the Tranx 300 back
into the lab this week to open it up for a closer look at the guts to see just
what makes this reel feel so powerful. What I found was a reel that was not only
easy to disassemble and service, but one that keeps things simple with a focus
No bearings on these knobs
For starters the Tranx 300 features a metal construction in the frame and
handle-sideplate, what Shimano
call’s their Hagane Body, to provide a solid platform for the gearing. A rigid housing
helps provide isolation for the gearing as well as reduce flex when
there is a lot of pressure on the line. This helps improve both feel and winding
power but is just part of what makes this reel feel so effortless when cranked.
The handle side sideplate is all
metal, and extremely thick walled for extra strength and rigidity
Another big reason is that the Tranx 300-400 generates confident winding
power is that it leverages Shimano's X-Ship, which adds a bearing supported pinion
gear. This combined with the reel’s oversized gearing, and rigid frame, help to provide
anglers with that lighter feel, even under load. As an added benefit X-Ship also
helps improves freespool by
reducing friction between the pinion gear and the spool shaft, something anglers
will appreciate when they are trying to cover a lot of water when bombing those massive
cranks and swimbaits.
Under the hood we find a massive
The gearing on the new Tranx is massive, and yet it features relatively
small teeth that meshes well with the pinion gear to eliminate any noticeable
sloppiness while cranking. While the Tranx is powerful it isn’t necessarily the
smoothest reel in the Shimano stable either, which is not surprising considering the
reel only has a total of 5+1 bearings. It is hard to believe that a reel this
large, and this smooth, has so few bearings but again simplicity and reliability
are key attributes that the Tranx strives for.
The large gear houses a thick
sandwich of drag washers
Another benefit of having a massive main gear? The ability to increase
surface area for the drag washers nesting inside. No power reel can be considered truly commanding
unless the drag can dole out plenty of pressure. The Tranx measured out at
23.4lbs. of pressure on
“The Machine,” nearly a pound and a half more than
Shimano’s own rating!
Plenty of surface area to generate
over 20lbs of drag pressure, a total of 9 surfaces of alternating carbon, steel,
and brass, all come into play in the Tranx's drag system
One thing that is interesting on the Tranx’s drag is that the amount of
adjustment is somewhat limited. Unlike most Shimano reels that offer a range of
drag pressures with each rotation of the drag star the Tranx star drag only
rotates one complete turn for the drag to pretty much disengage. While
backing the drag off slightly reduces the drag this is much more of an all or
nothing, on-off, drag than most Shimano reels. The benefit is being able to dial
up the pressure instantly, but those anglers that really like to play with their
pressure settings may find the range of adjustment lacking.
The brass gearing has mid sized
teeth that meshes up very well with the isolated pinion gearing
The overall build quality of the Tranx 300 is very good, and the guts
match up with the metal bodied exterior in terms of quality and refinement.
Durability should be excellent on this reel, and the Tranx is also saltwater rated with
Shimano’s durability enhancing Coreprotect features which help seal out the
elements without negatively effecting fishing performance. The blue anodized metal on the
handle and drag star are also a nice touch, adding character to the reel, as
well as durability.
Holding the pinion gear is part of
the "X-Ship" system, a bearing that supports the gear and provides that
excellent alignment with the rest of the gearing, even under heavy load
Like an SUV, adaptability and flexibility to handle a wide array of
conditions, is what is so appealing about the new Tranx baitcaster.
This reel, with all its
massive gearing goodness, can be used for throwing just about anything you dare
tie on, including full size swimbaits, long lipped deep diving cranks, large plugs,
giant spoons, and even umbrella rigs.
Species-wise the new Tranx reels are
really overkill for fishing for largemouth bass, but that doesn’t mean anglers
won’t go out and buy them specifically for green fish, and why not?
Designed for big baits and power
applications the Shimano Tranx looks like it packs plenty of punch for tackling
This reel fits the go big or go home mentality, and is designed to handle
the biggest and baddest baits, and it is good to know that the Tranx can also
pull double duty handling larger species in brackish and saltwater including
Stripers, Redfish, Snook, Tarpon, and even Tuna. Our tests have just begun but
were going to try and put as many different big baits as possible on the end of
the line and hopefully get into some big fish to see just how much torque this
reel can put out.
Shimano Tranx is available now at