Hunting, Fishing, and Deer Camp
St Croix Legend Tournament "Big Dawg" with a Shimano Tranx HG
The Good: As soon as you pull this rod out of the plastic you know it’s a quality piece of equipment. The cork handles are very high grade, the thread wrapping is flawless and the fit and finish are great. Once you get out on the water the Legend Tournament delivers in performance exactly what its appearance promised. During my first trip with this rod I used it primarily for large rubber musky lures. The largest of these was the super magnum size bulldawg, also known as the “pounder.” This particular bait is over 16” long and weighs around 13 ounces. I also fished a slightly smaller 12” magnum size bulldawg and a few 8-10 inch swimbaits. The rod handled all the baits with ease and really shined with the heavier pounder. It loads well from the tip really helps ease the burden of casting such huge lures.
The Bad: I can’t really say that I found anything bad about this rod. If I were to point out anything that I would change it would definitely be the rear handle. When casting, the handle could benefit from being about 2 inches longer. This would not only give you a better grip and more leverage on the cast, but also a little more grip to tuck under your arm.
Interesting Note: This particular rod has St. Croix’s new palming reel seat in place of the traditional trigger reel seat on most casting rods. During my trip I found the reel seat comfortable, but it did take a little while to get used to. It feels a little different but could make a big difference in the long run and over the course of a long day of fishing.
The Good: Let’s be clear on this from the beginning, the Tranx is a best of a reel. From the moment that you first engage the reel to retrieve there is no doubt that this is a solidly built piece of gear. It has a large power handle to help with retrieving hard pulling baits and a drag that feels like it could stop a train. The drag adjustment registers in clicks so you can keep track of your increments of adjustment and engages very smoothly. Drag pressure is rated at about 25 pounds. I found the Tranx to be comfortable to fish with despite its very large size. The reel comes in right-hand retrieve only, which is not uncommon for Shimano products, and has a semi-removable left side plate that offers access to the centrifugal brake system. The access door is opened with the turn of a recessed handle on the side of the reel and swings open once unlocked. It remains attached at the hinge point so you won’t lose the side panel.
The Bad: Much like the St. Croix rod above, there isn’t much bad to say about this reel. I imagine that some people will find the larger size of the Tranx uncomfortable when palming and might prefer something with a lower profile. Also, the HG is the faster reel in the Tranx line-up compared to the slower PG model. I really liked the HG for quick line pickup on the rubber baits I was using but the PG might be more comfortable for application involving baits with high amounts of pull. Lastly, I suspect the bright white handle on the reel will be subject to staining when the dye from braided line starts bleeding off once wet.
Interesting Note: The level-wind on the Tranx is not synchronized and therefore does not move with the line on the cast. That being said, the spool sits far enough back from the level-wind that it did not cause any binding during casts. I don’t see this as an issue at all but it’s worth noting.
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