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Reel Review

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


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.


Cast control 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.”


The Tranx 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 the reel

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.


Even the 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.


Relatively 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 these handles

Next Section: A serious drag...









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