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Shimano Tranx 500 Review

Shimano Tranx 500 Review

The Shimano Tranx 500 baitcasting reel is a low profile design that was designed specifically for the angler that really loves using a baitcasting reel and wants to go after the larger species of fish that have a tendency to want to swim away once hooked.

Basically what you have here is a giant Bass reel designed for saltwater fishing of large species.

The challenge with the traditional baitcasting reels is that they do not hold enough line on the spool nor do they have enough drag to fight Tuna, Grouper, Stripers, smaller billfish and the like.

The other thing that the Shimano Tranx 500 delivers on is speed when retrieving, this is particularly useful in a situation like when stripers are not biting and you need to aggravate them to get them to bite.

The Shimano Tranx 500 comes in two different models both with a max drag capacity of 25 lbs and massive line capacities of up to 420 yards of 50 lbs test braid.

Tranx 500 Model TRX500HG is built for speed with a 6.6:1 gear ratio and has an incredible line retrieval rate of 43″ per crank of the handle.

Tranx 500 Model TRX500PG is built for power with a 4.6:1 gear ratio and a line retrieval rate of 30″ per crank.

If you are looking for the highest performing most powerful baitcaster ever made then you have found it.

The Bottom Line

  • My favorite large baitcasting reel for large topwater baits and lures.
  • Very smooth reel with a great drag system
  • High level of manufacturing and quality components throughout
  • Very durable design with oversized drive and pinion gears

The Shimano Tranx 500 is one of the best large baitcasting reels and is available HERE.


S A-RB bearings – These bearings are the same as the standard A-RB bearings with the exception that they are shielded on both sides by a stainless steel shield for the ultimate in corrosion resistance and contaminant protection, to reduce the likelihood of any salt, dirt or water penetrating and affecting the bearings smoothness.

Super Stopper – Shimano uses a one way roller bearing that will allow you to instantly set the hook when you want without any back play in the reel.

Dartanium® II drag washer – The Dartianium material provides the smoothest drag possible from Shimano and allows for a very wide range of drag settings which is so important when fighting larger species that take your equipment of the edge of its limitations.

Ergonomic Power Handle – The handle grip is made of a very comfortable, non-slip rubber and is designed to provide maximum comfort while at the same time allowing the angler to apply an incredible amount of torque when fighting a fish.

For anyone that has spent the day using a heavier rod and reel setup without a comfortable handle, you know what your hands feel like at the end of the day OUCH!

Super Free System (SF) – The super free system is designed so that the pinion gear is suspended by a ball bearing and thus has less friction, it is Super Free and smooth allowing for you to make much longer casts.

Some of the pros I have seen using the reel are launching baits and jigs as far as 100 yards.  In a traditional baitcasting reel once the clutch bar is pressed down the pinion gear is freed but it has a tendency to want to create friction on the spool shaft and this, in turn, is going to limit the distance of your cast.

E.I. surface treatment – The Tranx 500 is designed to be used in harsh saltwater conditions and part of this design is to try to eliminate any possibility of saltwater soaked braided line from corroding the spool and other parts of the reel.

Once the anodization process has been completed a secondary surface treatment called E.I. is applied that penetrates the smallest surface impurities.  This not only locks out the saltwater and adds another layer of corrosion resistance but it also makes for a super smooth finish to the reel.

HEG® drive and pinion gears – HEG technology stands for High-Efficiency Gearing.  HEG consists of not only the gears, but also the frame, setplate, and handle-side sideplate.

The drive gear and the pinion gear have been beefed up to offer increased leverage and power. The one-piece frame incorporates the setplate and by adding a one-piece stamped sideplate, Shimano has eliminated nearly all of the flex in the drive train that can cause gears to bind and then strip under pressure from large fish.

When you combine the HEG with Shimanos X-Ship you get a smooth as silk but incredibly strong retrieve day after day.

Durable X-Ship – X-Ship is a combination of features that work together to create much greater efficiency, it actually stands for Extra, Smooth & High Power.

By positioning the pinion gear close to the center line of the large diameter drive gear, more power is transferred from the handle to the spool. The pinion gear is also supported by two Shimano A-RB roller bearings.

This increases the efficiency of the reel and adds to the durability over the lifetime of the reel.

Features at a Glance

  • S A-RB® A-RB® coating
  • Super Stopper®
  • Dartanium® II drag washer
  • Ergonomic Power Handle
  • Superfree bearing-supported pinion gear
  • E.I. surface treatment
  • HEG® drive and pinion gears
  • Durable X-Ship design

At the heart of the Shimano Tranx 500 are two technologies that Shimano has incorporated into a number of their reels HEG and X-Ship, this combination is what makes them so smooth even under heavy loads.

When hooking into a large fighting fish such as a Tuna, Wahoo or a smaller billfish you know that you are in for a ride and if you want to be the one in control then you need to have the right gear.

The power and speed that you find in this reel when pitching and retrieving larger lures come from what Shimano calls HEG technology which stands for High-Efficiency Gearing.  HEG consists of not only the gears, but also the frame, setplate, and handle-side sideplate.

The drive gear and the pinion gear have been beefed up to offer increased leverage and power. The one-piece frame incorporates the setplate and by adding a one-piece stamped sideplate, Shimano has eliminated nearly all of the flex in the drive train that can cause gears to bind and then strip under pressure from large fish.

By eliminating the flex and increasing the leverage and then combining the extremely smooth X-Ship technology, you can retrieve at incredibly high-speeds and deliver an unbelievable amount of torque, while at the same time enjoying the smooth, silent retrieve Shimano is so famous for.

For those of you who want all the details I have provided the chart below. For easy identification, TRX500HG has black handle/TRX500PG has silver handle

ModelLine Retrieve (in)Mono Cap(lbs/yd)Braid Cap(lbs/yd)Max Drag (lb)S-ARB Ball BearingRoller BearingGear RatioWeight (oz)
TRX500HG 4330/160
TRX500PG30 30/160

Look at how far you can cast this reel and then how quickly you can retrieve the lure.  What you really need to decide now is which model is right for you.

The TRX500HG is your ticket for quick retrieval of topwater lures and the TRX500PG is what you will want to go with for bait fishing or bottom fishing when you need that extra pulling power to pull large fish in like Grouper.

Let’s talk about the level wind for a minute.  I know a number of anglers that prefer the baitcasting reel over a spinning reel and most of them are not fans of a level wind as they feel that it interferes when casing and slows the line as it pays off the spool.

I would have to agree that with most reels that this is true but I have found that this is not the case with the Tranx 500.


  • Smooth
  • Line capacity
  • Fast retrieve
  • Strong and Durable


  • Pricey


If the price point of the Shimano Tranx 500 has you needing to mortgage your truck then you might want to take a look at the Daiwa Lexa 400.

While this is a slightly smaller reel and has a considerably smaller line capacity it comes at about 2/3 of the price of the Tranx 500. Read the full review of the Daiwa Lexa 400 HERE.

In Conclusion

I really do love this reel especially when it comes to launching a larger lure when top fishing.  The overall feel when you retrieve is that it is strong, durable and smooth.

The level wind works as it is supposed to without interference. You can load up 400 yards of 50 lbs braided line to haul those hard fighting fish in and it is well sealed from the elements which means that I am not going to be having to replace or rebuild this reel for years to come.

With minimal annual maintenance, I am sure that I will have this as part of the arsenal for the next decade.  With that said the price is up there but it is a fine piece of equipment and this is one instance when you are really getting what you pay for.

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Barry Demchuk

Thursday 13th of August 2020

want to go light with plenty of action and versatility with my new outfit....Alaska fishing ...jigging for 20-90lb Halibut in 200-300 ft of water with up to 16 oz of weight plus casting for giant ling cod with 6-16 oz swimjigs...

Probably looking at 2 different rods but as for reels ...Lexa 400h, or Shimano Tekota A 600....50 to 65 braid.....or the older Tekota 700

Please give reel and rod combo advise...had enough of the old heavy duty stuff...this is for personal use to keep it fun