Expert Review: Shimano Tranx 400

This review is my honest opinion of the reel, which I bought with my own money in November 2019.

Jay Wallen using the Shimano Tranx 400 to haul in bass on the Alabama Rig.

Photo courtesy of Jay Wallen

About this review This review is my honest opinion of the reel, which I bought with my own money in November 2019.

My take

The Shimano Tranx 400 is perfect for all anglers looking for a beefy yet light reel that can handle the biggest of baits, big fish, and still be comfortable enough to cast all day. It’s great for bass, musky, striper, even big catfish.

Jay Wallen showing off the Shimano Tranx 400.

Photo courtesy of Jay Wallen

About the reel

  • Model: Shimano Tranx 400
  • Reel Size: 400
  • Construction: Low-profile baitcaster, all-metal Hagane body
  • Drag System: Cross Carbon Drag
  • Drag Pressure: 22 lbs

About me

  • Preferred fishing styles: Freshwater power fishing for bass, cranking big lures, and fishing deep structure
  • Experience: 30+ years

Test conditions

  • When I bought this: November 2019
  • Days tested: 65
  • Rod Paired with Reel: G.Loomis NRX Umbrella Rig Rod (916C UBR) 7’7” Extra Heavy-Fast
  • Line Paired with Reel: PowerPro 80lb SuperSlick Braid
  • Waters I’ve used it on: Freshwater lakes, and rivers
  • Species targeted with reel: Bass

How it performs


What I was looking for

I was needing a stout reel capable of handling lures from 2-8 ounces in weight but balanced enough to put on a long, heavy rod. I was specifically looking for a reel that could handle various size Alabama Rigs and large swimbaits.

Why I chose this gear

Shimano has a great reputation for designing technique-specific gear. I didn’t want a general reel that could be used for Alabama Rigs and Swimbaits. I wanted a reel designed for those specific baits. The drag at 22 lbs was important as well. The heavier drag is needed when tossing heavy lures like that.

I looked at some other brands with similar reels but none had the drag rating in a reel that weighs only 12oz. The weight is important, especially when putting on a long rod because I really need to have balance. So the heavy gearing, strong drag on a lightweight frame is exactly what I was looking for.

Shimano Tranx 400 with Gloomis NRX UBR 916C.

Photo courtesy of Jay Wallen

Close up of wear.

Photo courtesy of Jay Wallen

What I love about it:

  • Performance: The performance of the reel has been exemplary. I have performed almost zero maintenance on the reel and after several seasons of use, it is still butter smooth!
  • Quality: The Hagane all-metal body is superb, it’s a solid frame and absorbs a lot of the cranking torque from those big heavy lures.
  • Durability: The Tranx 400 is one of the most durable reels I have ever used. The HEG gearing used is upsized and one-piece for strength and durability.
  • Application: This reel is great for casting or trolling, I cast it 99% of the time. I love using it mostly for Alabama Rigs and big swimbaits. The cranking power is insanely high, it acts as a winch, and it provides great power when hooked up on big fish with big baits.

Issues I’ve encountered:

  • Versatility: One of the very few negatives I have found is the gear ratios are a little lacking. This model comes in either 5.8:1 which is a little slow or 7.6:1 which is a little fast. I would love to see a ratio in the 6.4:1 range, I think that would be a perfect speed for most of what I am using the reel for with big Alabama Rigs or Swimbaits. However, the 5.8:1 is a very capable cranking ratio for big baits, just a little slow for my liking.
Jay Wallen hauls in 2 bass with the Shimano Tranx.

Best Moment with Shimano Tranx

Favorite moment with this reel

One of my favorite moments with this reel is when I hooked up on two big bass, both over 4lbs and the reel handled the big Alabama rig along with two big bass fighting hard. I was casting the rig out really deep and on long casts. The first bass smashed the rig and I set the hook and was fighting the fish when it got slammed a second time and hooked up on another big bass. So, I was fighting two fish at once and the reel pulled them both in with no problem!

Value for the money vs. other options

The value of this reel is unmatched. I compared this reel to the Revo Winch but the drag and the overall durability just couldn’t match the power of the Tranx. For the money I spent on this reel, it will outlast almost any other comparable reel. These reels are just built to last and are super durable with very little if any maintenance.

Final verdict

For those looking for a low-profile reel that can handle big lines, heavy baits, and big fish, I can’t recommend the Shimano Tranx 400 enough. It’s great for big swimbaits, Alabama rigs, and big deep diving crankbaits, too. I won’t find a more durable reel that is low profile enough to fish all day and not fatigue the hand. The cranking power and drag are unmatched. I wouldn’t hesitate to pick up this reel for those larger cranking needs.

Selling Shimano on
Shimano Tranx 400
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Written By
I'm a professional kayak angler, I travel the country fishing for largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass. I have been fishing for over 35 years for various species all over the United States. I have even competed for team USA at the Hobie Fishing Worlds 7 in Amal, Sweden. I spend 140+ days a year o...

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