You're right.. but not completely. The tranx PG works nicely due to the fact that for some reason our bluefin like a slow almost deadstick pop, so there is less need for the fast retrieval of line. Sometime you barely even reel in on the pop here..You don't want a Raptor, or any other rod that is intended for live bait, as your rod for popping, regardless of how good that rod is.
In order to work a popper correctly, get better casting distance, and have less angler fatigue - you need a stiff tip (read: slow / parabolic action) rod.
I can personally recommend the Blackhole Graphite series and Nano series. The Graphite fishes and casts better, but the Nano is gentler on the angler when hooked up. The SaltywaterTackle rods are also very good, but they look like they are sold out of blanks (and are pricey).
The Phenix Titan Popping rods felt good when I pulled on them at Fred Hall, but I haven't fished them. I know UC has a popping series, but I don't know anything about them.
Regarding fishing reels: I use spinners, so I can only tell you what is important, it's up to you to decide what matters to you:
When fishing, you make a large sweep of the rod to cause the popper to pop. You then need to quickly wind in that line. Stella's have ~60" per turn of the handle and that works great as a reference; Tranx HG and PG are 43" and 30" respectively, which is going to leave you winding like crazy to catch up, but it still works okay. As a side note, those are great speeds for surface iron lures.
However, that sweeping motion tends to mess up the lay of the line on non-spinner/ non-level wind reels. Generally I've seen that people using conventionals have to cast out and do a steady retrieve every 3-5 casts, to clean up their line, or risk a nasty backlash (and sometimes they still get said nasty backlash). If you're casting all the time, or want to be sure you will get a good cast the one time you need it, thats a plus for the Tranx.
I've seen a Tranx on a popping outfit land a 100# class YFT at Guadalupe, but there were no sharks, and the angler put the outfit away for "a while" as they got soooo beat up. (I don't know if it was HG or PG).
In my opinion - If you're looking for tuna up to 100 pounds, but usually under, and okay with a beating on a big fish, the tranx is a great casting reel. If you're looking to catch multiple fish in that larger class, you need more ummph (I don't know what that is).
Hope some of this is helpful.
Tranx PG & raptor 8’0” (read the fine print)If you throw a Raptor you’ll last a few cast. It’s a railrod with walls that are thicker than a conventional blank and it’s heavier. Tranx500 on a +100 lb tuna? ..,ok but if you hook them in the 130 lb class and up, it’s going to be fun for the first 20 min when it’s look at me, yahoo ! and for the next 2-3 hours it’s “F”me !! You really need something with a 2spd. I use a US90 Monster with a 500 Valiant to have a slight chance. I also have US100 Monster 10’ but no dang way do I want to tango with a big tuna on it. Leave that to the young studs who want to have 3 hours of fun.