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Reel Review

Making a Power Play, the Shimano Tranx Baitcaster (continued)


Price & Applications: At the time of this review the Curado 300E is still a popular reel among both swimbait and inshore anglers that appreciate the reel’s capacity and confident jigging and winching capabilities. The Tranx Series literally cranks it up a notch in almost every way, and yet will still not cost you an arm and a leg to purchase. Retailing for $279 dollars the Tranx is a surprisingly good value, and the larger 400 sized reels are also very reasonable at only 20 dollars more. Shimano also does anglers right by offering the new Tranx reels in both low and high speed retrieves, as well as right and left hand retrieves.


The reel sat just a tad high on some reel seats

In terms of competition the Lexa 300 reels are much more affordable at $199 dollars but not as refined. On the opposite end of the spectrum the Abu Garcia REVO Toro reel are more refined, smoother, and come with both a power handle and casting power handle but retail for a hundred dollars more at $399.99. Among all these reels I felt the Tranx 300 Series offered the most balanced offering for the money.


The gearbox on this reel is nothing short of massive and yet the reel manages to balance just fine

I enjoyed fishing the Tranx 300A but there were areas like in retrieve smoothness or drag control where I also found myself desiring more refinement. Anglers will have to select what balance of features, performance, and price is right for them, others will simply stick with Shimano out of brand loyalty, and at least in the case of the Tranx that doesn’t result in a bad choice at all.


A look at the reel height on a Dobyns Swimbait Rod

The Tranx Series does a lot of things well, and does some things, like deliver torque, very well. The series is a good choice for anglers that are often fishing big baits and inshore applications, and brackish water or even salt will do little to alter the reel’s performance, even over time. For topwater applications the higher speed reels are the way to go, and on my next trip to the Amazon to target Peacocks the 300AHG with the 7.6:1 ratio is unquestionably the first reel I’d pack.


I was often surprised how big the fish were and how easily the Tranx manhandled them

When it comes to the salt the Tranx has all the necessary provisions to stand up to the elements with the company's CoreProtect design which employs a coating on the exterior and fittings on the inside to shield key components. The Tranx has already been deployed by many charter boats and is proving itself to be a worthy option for targeting everything from mid-sized Tuna to Wahoo. The reel should hold up well even for short to mid-range applications, and it may even have enough capacity for long range applications when paired with 50lb braided line.


Ratings: (We've re-calibrated our ratings standard for 2008 and have included a key at the bottom of the following matrix as a guide):

Shimano Tranx 300A Reel Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Built like a tank the Tranx utilizes a metal construction that will hold up to the elements 8.5
Performance The Tranx really delivers when it comes to torque and stopping power. This reel cranks in big baits and big fish with ease but there are some areas where it could be more refined including smoothness of retrieve and range of drag adjustment 8.8
Price A great price for a reel with this level of performance. Probably the most balanced big baitcaster when it comes to performance, features, and price 8.5
Features While the reel doesn't have a lot of bearings it does have a metal construction, additional corrosion resistance, quality gearing and a powerful drag 8
Design (Ergonomics) Very good ergonomics overall. It sits a tad high on some seats but the form factor of the reel is modern and even comfortable to palm 8
Application When it comes to applications the Tranx really shows plenty of range. It can be used for freshwater and saltwater applications and can handle big fish and big baits with ease. Just make sure to pick the right retrieve ratio for the application you will target the most 9.5

Total Score

Ratings Key: 1 = terrible : 2 = poor : 3 = lacking : 4 = sub par : 5 = mediocre : 6 = fair : 7 = good : 8 = great : 9 = excellent : 10 = unbelievable!
For More Details of the updated rating system visit our explanation here


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

+ Built like a tank but fishes much smaller - Could be more refined in some areas like the knobs, smoothness, and range of drag adjustment
+ Ton's of power, excellent torque  
+ A drag capable of stopping even big species  
+ Wide range of applications spanning freshwater and saltwater  
+ Reasonable price  


Simple, reliable, and powerful. The Tranx is a step up for Shimano's big baitcasters


Conclusion: The Shimano Tranx is a very good big baitcaster, it delivers in all the areas that matter in this class of reel. The reel’s personality is bold and commanding, and while it is not the most sophisticated reel it is a very effective one at this price point.


The Tranx is like a muscle car, it is built with purpose, to deliver power, and lots of it, but make no mistake this reel also navigates the range of mid to heavy applications across both fresh and saltwater very well, and is among the most balanced of the high capacity big baitcasters currently available.


The Tranx has plenty of character and emanates both confidence and fun

One of the things that makes the Tranx Series so special is that it manages to deliver on power and durability and yet still handle like it is a much smaller reel. It never feels like too much, or unwieldy, and with the lower speed 300A reels it will surprise you with just how much power it squeezes into a relatively compact frame. I personally like a reel with some sort of character, and to that extent the Tranx emanates both “confidence” and “fun” all wrapped in a slick silver frame. Power Play…. Advantage Shimano Tranx.

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