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Rod Review


The Search For One... Shimano's Perfect Storm, Cumulus


Date: 06/03/10
Tackle type: Rods
Manufacturer: Shimano America Corp.
Reviewer: Cal

Total Score: 8.00 - GREAT

Early this year at the Big Rock show in Las Vegas, we got our first look at the new top end Shimano Bass Rod, the Cumulus. Floating in above the former USDM top end line, Cumara, the Cumulus line is mostly about finesse and entirely about light weight. With six rods in the entire line ( three spinning and three casting ) ranging in weight from roughly two point five (2.5) to three point six seven (3.67) ounces, they deliver!

Introducing the Shimano Cumulus SMLCX71MH

But are these sticks built to last? It’s hard to believe Shimano would put out any product that wasn’t thoroughly tested and retested to endure the rigors and abuse of neglectful anglers, but with rods this light, naturally our skepticism radar is at full sensitivity. Introducing Shimano America Corp’s entry in our 2010 Search For One All Purpose Rod Shootout, the Cumulus SMLCX71MH.


Shimano Cumulus SMLCX71MH Specifications

Material Shimano HM-1 Graphite
Length 7'1"
Line Wt. 15lb
Lure Wt. none stated
Pieces 1
Guides 9 guides + tip (Fuji titanium framed, SiC inserts)
Power Rating Medium Heavy
Taper Extra Fast
Rod Weight 3.5 ounces
MSRP $349


Impressions: The first thing that struck me with the SMLCX71MH was that it was not too unlike a stick from the former top end line from Shimano, the Cumara series aesthetically. Certainly where Shimano Japan follows traditional JDM stylings, Shimano America Corporation’s approach to rod design is minimalist and this is reflected in the Cumara series and again, now, with the new Cumulus rods.

Shimano's Cumulus series features a very minimalist design ...

But where the Cumara series of rods has hard edges and angles in the handle design, the Cumulus series features rounded corners, at least at the butt end, and indefinite shapes perhaps lending itself to that soft, puffy motif given by the name of the rod series. Trouble is, these soft lines do not exactly give one the impression they are holding a top end, three hundred fifty dollar ($350) stick.

... The minimalist trait is a carryover from the Cumara series, but the Cumulus rod's handle features parts with rounded edges as shown here on the butt end.

Visual cues aside, one thing the SMLCX71MH does strike you with immediately is its lack of weight. Shimano set out the goal of making the lightest production rods on the market and they may very well have delivered. The SMLCX71MH is a medium heavy powered rod but in hand, it feels all that of a medium because of its super light weight - only three and a half (3.5) ounces. What’s more, this lack of weight is delivered without sacrificing too much in tip weight as this stick features a balancing torque of 0.19 foot pounds.

Figure 1: This chart illustrates the deflection characteristics of our SMLCX71MH as compared to that of our 2010 The Search For One baseline rod, an MBR783C GLX2000. As you can see from the chart, the two sticks share the same power curve.

Lab Tests: That seques nicely into the first appointment for our SMLCX71MH which of course is with our RoD WRACK and now with our Search For One well underway, we not only have the GLX2000 with which to compare, but some statistical averages across twenty six different rods submitted for our 2010 campaign.

Lab Results for Shimano Cumulus SMLCX71MH

Avg RoD (2-32 oz)
Measured Weight (oz)
Balance Point (inches)
Balancing Torque (ftlbs)
Shimano Cumulus SMLCX71MH
Extra Fast
MBR783C GLX2000
TSFO 26 Rod Avg

Despite doubts as to the SMLCX71MH’s authenticity as a “medium heavy” powered rod, this stick slips right in with an average RoD score of 1.62 measuring just a hair more powerful than our baseline GLX2000 that came in with 1.72. The average weight of our 26 sample rods came in at 4.92 ounces with a balancing point of 7.65 inches and a balancing torque of 0.19 foot pounds. The SMLCX71MH crushes the competition with weight all the while matching up nicely with a balancing torque that’s right on the average for the total rods sampled thus far. Impressive to say the least.

The only rating on this rod was the designation of "15lb".

Field Tests: But as we all know, impressing in the lab and impressing out on the water are two different things and they are not necessarily mutually inclusive. The first testing ground for our Cumulus stick? Falcon Lake, Texas where heavy and extra heavy powered rods are the norm and rods broken on hook sets in the trees are not uncommon. The Search For One knows no mercy.

Lifting the rod out of the wrack, you'd swear this is a medium powered rod, but one flex of the tip reveals something more ...

Casting: Extra-fast tapered rods are not known for their casting ability and usually translate into rods reserved more for pitching or other close quarter presentations. Their tips usually just don’t load very well for traditional casting duties. The SMLCX71MH is contrary to that norm delivering a nice, responsive tip that loads easily and really helps the angler cast with accuracy because it doesn’t load too much on the backswing.

After testing this rod out on our RoD WRACK we soon discovered the SMLCX71MH really does behave like a traditional all purpose, or "medium heavy" type rod.

The rod comes with only one performance rating on it and that’s “15lbs” so its lure weight range is a bit up in the air. The fact it WRACKed out similar to all our test rods indicates to us the rod’s range is within that quarter to three quarter ounce range and this holds true out on the water.

With its extra-fast tip, the SMLCX71MH makes for a great pitching stick and though it was designed to go with a Core 50/51, I really liked fishing this stick with my superTTuned Airy Red Pixy!

In closer quarters, pitching six-inch Senkos with no weight (total lure weight with hook = 18 grams or ~0.63 ounces) results in really smooth performance with just the right bounce in the tip to get the bait out precisely especially when matched with a superTTuned Daiwa Airy Red Pixy, but of course, I also fished this stick with my Flash reel, a custom painted Shimano Metanium MG7, as well as with a Chronarch 101D.

The Pixy is actually heavier than a Core 50/51, but even then this entire combo is just barely over 7 ounces!

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