Making a Power Play, the Shimano Tranx Baitcaster
Real World Tests: When the new Tranx first debuted it was a very hard
reel to get. Maybe it was the production ramp, or perhaps there were just too
many anglers eager to get their hands on the larger sized baitcaster. Ultimately
we were able to purchase our from Tranx 300 test reel directly from Tackle
Warehouse for this review.
Time to see
what the Tranx is all about, let's go fishing!
While the Tranx can certainly be utilized for inshore fishing the focus of our
tests were on freshwater, primarily bass fishing applications. I tested the reel
with both mono and braided lines, tossing everything from large jigs to topwater
big baits during the span of the last few months.
A look at the
large diameter spool
Casting: Casting with the Tranx is easy and straightforward thanks to the
proven VBS centrifugal cast control system. While not adjustable externally
because I primarily used the Tranx for tossing big baits and never really felt
the need to change out my cast control weight settings, and the spool tension
knob provided plenty of fine tuning. One downside to the system is that in the
event that you do want to change settings the non-handle side sideplate is not a
flip down design and fully detaches from the reel’s frame, so make sure to
maintain a solid grip.
The Tranx 300
casts like a normal baitcaster, it actually fishes smaller than it looks
The Tranx 300 cast functionality is relatively unremarkable, and I mean that as
a compliment. The reel fishes smaller than it actually is, and it casts just
like a normal baitcaster only bigger, no extra effort or thought is required to
catapult mid to large sized baits.
In fact the Tranx does everything other than
casting finesse baits well, and trying to use the Tranx for something like
fishing finesse jigs or a drop shot is like bringing a machete, versus a
scalpel, to the operating room. This tool is made for big baits, big
applications, and big fish.
is the proven VBS centrifugal system
Retrieve: The Tranx is smooth enough for an oversized reel and while I
liked the way it felt with big baits in tow it simply isn’t as smooth or buttery
feeling as some competing powerhouse size reels, like the Abu Garcia Toro Beast
or Rocket. Some of this has to do with the fact that the Tranx only has 5+1
bearings, and the knobs also utilize bushings.
The gear teeth on the Tranx’s main gear is also somewhat moderately sized with
an emphasis on durability. The gearing is all secured in place within the
Tranx’s rigid aluminum frame, what Shimano is marketing as their “Hagane Body.”
delivers serious torque, cranking in big baits or even fish is easy
During tests I fished a lot of deep diving cranks, big baits, and even a few
punch rigs. The Tranx 300A’s slow 5.8:1 retrieve ratio made it a chore to run
topwater baits or tiring when power fishing rock walls or banks and pulling
baits back through dead water, but when deep cranking or presenting big
swimbaits the power that the reel affords is phenomenal.
The guts of
Big swimbaits do little to tax this reel’s winding power and this is only
further illustrated when there is a fish on the line. The Tranx 300A is a beast
of a reel, flexing its muscles most when a big fish takes your swimbait. There
were more than a handful of occasions when my baits were hammered and I
proceeded to crank the bass in with authority, only to be surprised by how big
these fish were.
sideplate is metal
The Tranx 300A completely manhandles fish with the combination of the oversized
gearing and the X-Ship design which adds a bearing supported pinion gear. As an
added benefit this design also improves freespool by reducing friction between
the pinion gear and the spool shaft, something that big bait anglers will
appreciate when they are trying to cover a lot of water.
large gear teeth on this brass gearing
If there is one area where the Tranx 300A really shines it is in the power
department. It may not be the smoothest reel but it delivers plenty of winching
strength to muscle those big fish in, but don’t worry, this winch doesn’t take
any bit of the fun out of the fight as landing big fish never gets old.
No bearings in