Compared to it’s competitors, Shimano hasn’t been well known for it’s larger-sized power reels. While still a favorite choice with big bait muskie fishermen, the Shimano Curado 300 is beginning to show it’s age. This has led to many musky anglers to utilize the Abu Revo Toro and the Daiwa Lexa 400, as both are excellent and affordable muskie reels. Shimano saw the need for a new big baitcasting reel for their brand, so they leveraged the proven power from their saltwater Tranx series to develop a brand new reel that could handle fresh and saltwater alike. Read on for our Shimano Tranx review for musky fishermen.
Shimano Tranx Review For Musky: Ultra Powerful Ergonomic Masterpiece
For those who just want the highlights without the in-depth analysis, we’ll start with some of the pro’s and con’s of the Shimano Tranx baitcaster reel.
+ For starters, the Shimano Tranx is built like an armored truck, but fishes like a much smaller reel.
+ Drag system capable of handling even the biggest of muskies.
+ Outstanding power and amzing torque set this reel apart.
+ Comparable and affordable price point.
+ While not useful for most musky anglers, the Tranx can also be fished in saltwater.
– This is just us nitpicking, but the smoothness and knobs could use some very minor refinements.
– We’d also like to see some minor improvement in the range of dragShimano Tranx Models
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Shimano Tranx 400 Review and Overall Impressions
While traditional round muskie reels are great, people tend to not like the bulkiness that comes with them. This has led to further the demand for larger, low profile baitcasting reels, as they offer similar power for heavy applications while offering improved ergonomics. The Curado 300 was a great start for Shimano, but muskie fishermen craved more line capacity and more power. The Shimano Tranx 400 was designed to meet those demands, by offering a sleeker design combined with the newest X-Ship and HEG technologies that offer a better fishing experience to big game anglers.
The all new Shimano Tranx were engineered for casting heavy baits and catching large fish. Available in four different models, the Tranx Series is sure to please any fisherman. The new models are as follows:
Tranx 300 and Tranx 400 (301 & 401 for lefties) – featuring 5.8:1 gear ratios, and a double handle with rubber knobs capable of retrieving 30 inches of fishing line
Tranx 300HG and Tranx 400HG (301HG & 401HG – left-hand retrieve) – offering faster 7.6:1 gear ratios, and a single handle, CI4+ knob capable of retrieving 40 inches of line with each crank
These muskie reels were designed to deliver a combo of both line capacity and power in order to perform well with large baits and heavy fish. Both the 300 and 400 have ample capacity to target big muskies. The Shimano Tranx 300 reel can accommodate up to 190 yards of 50-pound test PowerPro line, while the Shimano Tranx 400 reel can accommodate up to 170-yards of 65-pound PowerPro.
Elegant yet conservative styling on the new Shimano Tranx reels give them a far more modern look than their predecessors. Blue anodized drag stars and handles give the new Tranx a subtle splash of color and great visual styling. The reels also feature a neutral silver protective coating giving it excellent corrosion resistance. This reel looks great on just about any muskie rod.
The Shimano Tranx 400 and 300 can be used for inshore fishing, however, the primary focus of this review is on on freshwater musky fishing applications. Folks have tested the Tranx reel with both braided and mono fishing lines, throwing everything from large bulldawgs to topwater bucktails.
Casting with Ease: Casting with the Shimano Tranx 400 is very smooth and easygoing thanks to the reliable VBS centrifugal casting control system. The Shimano Tranx 400 fishes as if it were a much smaller reel, however it casts just like a larger baitcasting reel. It has no problem and requires little to no extra effort to throw large sized lures. The Tran is made for larger baits, to be sure, so smaller finesse baits would not be ideal with this reel.
Drag & Stopping Power: Not only does the Shimano Tranx 400 offer ample cranking power, it also delivers fantastic stopping power. The nine drag washers of the main gear supply plenty of stopping surfaces. When doing our research for our Shimano Tanx review for musky, we found that the use of both carbon and metal washers and gears delivers impressive stopping pressure.
Retrieve with Power: It could be argued that the retrieve on the Tranx is not quite as smooth as some other big muskie reels, like the Toro Beast, it was still perfectly adequate with getting the job done. The 5+1 bearings likely have a role in this, as do the knobs which utilize bushings.
The Tranx 400 provides major torque, reeling in heavy baits and big fish is rather easy. The moderate sized teeth of the main gear are designed for durability. The rigid aluminum frame of the Tranx secures everything in place.
As previously mentioned in this Shimano Tranx review for musky, the reel can be used to cast a lot of different baits, including big baits, deep divers, and even topwaters. While deep cranking or fishing with larger baits showcases the Tranx’s power, the slow 5.8:1 retrieve gear ratio can sometimes make it mildly exhausting to throw topwater lures or when fishing banks or rock walls.
The Shimano Tranx 400 is a monster of a musky reel, and this is best illustrated when there is a big fish on the other end. Heavy swimbaits are also no match for this muskie reel’s winding power. You’ll be amazed at the ease with which you haul in your next 50-incher with this reel.
The Shimano Tranx 400 completely dominates muskies with the combo of it’s oversized gearing and the Shimano X-Ship engineering that adds a bearing supported pinion gear. This new design also reduces friction between the spool shaft and the pinion gear, thus improving freespool. This is something that large lure fishermen will appreciate once they are trying to cover a large area of water.
There’s no doubt that the Tranx 400’s most impressive quality is it’s strength. While not the smoothest musky reel, it provides plenty of pulling strength to land those big muskies. Don’t worry, though, the reel doesn’t remove any of the fun fighting a giant muskie.
Ergonomics & Design: As mentioned earlier in our Shimano Tranx review for musky, the reel is ergonomically well designed. It is neither too long, nor too wide, yet still supplies plenty of capacity and power.
Weighing 12oz., the Tranx 400 is no lightweight, but about what you should expect for a musky reel of this class. It is a bit heftier than the Curado, which is sort of replaced. Despite it’s large size, the Tranx 400 feels nice in the palm and also feels natural and comfortable in hand thanks to it’s compact profile.
The Shimano Tranx 400HG (High Gear) reel come with a single “Power Handle”, while the standard 400A model comes with the traditional double paddle handle. Which one is right for you is simply a matter of preference. If you tend to use high speed baits, you may prefer the double paddle handle. For example, with topwater lures, the higher speed fishing reels are the better option. However, if you tend to cast heavier baits and want a little more leverage, you might opt for the single handle. Since the handles are not interchangeable, you’ll have to commit to either the standard 400 or the HG model.
If you think you’ll pull double duty with your reel in both fresh and saltwater, you’ll be happy to know that you shouldn’t have any problems. The Tranx is treated with Shimano’s “CoreProtect” that uses a coating on both the internal fittings and the exterior to protect against saltwater damage. Many ocean charters are already implementing the Tranx reels with great success.
Price & Competition: The Shimano Tranx Series without a doubt cranks up performance in almost every regard, and it still will not break your bank to buy one. The 400A model retails for around $280, which is a very solid value for this caliber of muskie reel.
When it comes to competition the Daiwa Lexa 300 musky reels are only slightly less costly at around $200, but they are not as nicely refined. At the higher end, the Abu Garcia REVO Toro musky reel is a bit smoother and more refined, and they also come with both a casting handle and a power handle, but they sell for around $400. It could easily be argued that the Shimano Tranx 400 offers the best value for your money.
Shimano Tranx Review For Musky Conclusion
The Shimano Tranx is Sleek, Elegant, and Powerful! It delivers in all of the relevant areas, making it a very good big baitcasting reel. The reel is commanding enough to handle the biggest of baits and muskies, yet sleek and feels like a much lighter reel. Without a doubt, the Tranx 400A is a very effective musky reel, especially at it’s price point.
The Tranx is a fishing reel built with purpose, which is to deliver amazing power in an ergonomically pleasing form. Mission accomplished.
We hope you found our Shimano Tranx review for musky helpful. Be sure to check out our other musky reel reviews.