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Reel Preview

First Look Inside the Tank that is the New Shimano Tranx 300 Baitcaster (continued)


After 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 on durability.


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 main gear


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 multiple species


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. 


The Shimano Tranx is available now at Tackle Warehouse










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