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Rod Review

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

Sensitivity: The case for going as light as possible with one’s fishing rod is the lighter the rod, the more sensitive it will be. This goes with the argument that a rod blank is at it’s most efficient state when bare. As you add components, (i.e. weight to the blank), you take away performance, namely, sensitivity.

I also fished this stick with my superTTuned Metanium MG7, code name, "The Flash".

While this is a little mixed with the SMLCX71MH because the majority of weight reduction is found in the rod’s blank, this stick’s minimalist design feature is with the goal of making the rod as light as possible. In today’s world, this usually means micro-guides, but Shimano goes old school with titanium framed, SiC insert guides by Fuji for reliability and proven versatility.

But of course, this is the reel the Cumulus baitcasters were made to be fished with.

The end result of all that? A rod that delivers very good sensitivity. Granted the majority of my time with this rod was spent with a reel that either had Daiwa Samurai Braid or Seaguar Tatsu Fluorocarbon spooled, but even with these quality lines on the reels, you can feel a difference in a rod’s sensitivity when it has “it”. Thanks to the Cumulus’s lack of overall weight, this stick can’t help but have “it”.

The split reel seat on the Cumulus rods are a familiar touch, but the etched clouds on the reel seat locking mechanism we could do without.

Power: On the flip side of ultimate light weight and sensitivity sometimes comes the inverse relationship to power. Case in point, the ultimate in sensitivity to me is an Ultra Light fishing pole. These sticks are typically light in weight and correspondingly, light in power. I’ve fished plenty of big, powerful sticks, that were questionable in sensitivity and certainly even the most sensitive of these are nothing compared to an ultra light.

The Cumulus rods feature an open ended hook keeper along the blank.

Thanks to its extra-fast taper, SMLCX71MH delivers very good power and while I didn’t run into any crazed, brush diving hawgs at Falcon Lake, Texas to really put this stick to the ultimate test, truthfully, I wouldn’t expect any “medium heavy” powered stick to be able and handle that kind of charge. That’s why broomsticks are the norm on that lake.

Not all the edges on the Cumulus's handle are rounded ...

The SMLCX71MH delivers power consistent with what I’d consider an all purpose type rod as charted on our RoD WRACK and that’s important considering this rod really feels like anything but a medium heavy powered rod thanks again to its lack of weight.

... the front part of the rear grip has a nice, defined edge to it. We'd like to see more of these edges on the Cumulus rods.

Availability: Shimano’s Cumulus rods hit the consumer market in January of this year and have been readily available ever since. There are only six rods in the lineup split evenly between casting and spinning with three rods in each. The SMLCX71MH is the heavy hitter in this lineup of finesse rods being the heaviest and most powerful rod of the bunch - at least for now.

Each Cumulus stick comes with the proven, Fuji, titanium framed, SiC insert guides.

Warranty: The one really big advantage with purchasing a rod from a major Tier 1 manufacturer? Each and every Cumulus rod is covered by Shimano’s Lifetime, over the counter warranty. This warranty covers manufacturer defects in materials and workmanship and breakage under normal fishing conditions. As always for any specific warranty questions or concerns, it is best to speak with the company directly so that they may assess your situation

Ratings: (We've re-calibrated our ratings standard for 2008 and have included a key at the bottom of the following matrix as a guide):

Shimano Cumulus SMLCX71MH Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality A well built stick 8
Performance Feels like a "medium" but has the power of a "medium heavy" 9
Price Shimano's new top of the line comes at a price 6.5
Features Top end components 8.5
Design (Ergonomics) A little soft around the edges for me 7
Application This is the heaviest power stick in the Cumulus line and a good All Purpose type candidate 9

Total Score

Ratings Key: 1 = terrible : 2 = poor : 3 = lacking : 4 = sub par : 5 = mediocre : 6 = fair : 7 = good : 8 = great : 9 = excellent : 10 = unbelievable!
For More Details of the updated rating system visit our explanation here


Pluses and Minuses:


J Literally light as a cloud L Not a big fan of the rod's stylings
J Built with proven, top end components L We're not used to seeing a $300 plus stick from Shimano America Corp
J Lifetime, over the counter warranty  
J Did we mention this rod is light?  


Conclusion: Has Shimano created the perfect storm blend of light weight, power, and performance in a production stick? Judging by the way our SMLCX71MH performed at Falcon Lake, Texas and continued at Clear Lake, California, it’s hard to argue against that statement, but as we have found this year in our search, there is always a “but”. There’s no denying this Cumulus stick’s performance is up to par and if performance is all you care about, then this is a stick you need to get your hands on. However, in my search, the intangibles play just as important a role and those intangibles inevitably stem from the rod’s aesthetics.

The SMLCX71MH makes a good spinnerbait rod ...

A rod does not have to be all tricked out with crazy detailing to gain my favor in this department. In fact, a series I really enjoy from Shimano America Corporation is the Cumara. This series shares the same simplicity as the Cumulus, but the sculpted angles of the butt ends and the really minimalist foregrip are put together just right. In fact, if the Cumulus series just shared these same aesthetics, my enjoyment of fishing this rod would only be enhanced.

... as well as a good rod for plastics. It's a very versatile stick, just as any good contender in our Search For One must be.

I’m sure many will balk at that thought, but when I’m ready to hand over three hundred fifty dollars or more for a stick (or several sticks for that matter), there has to be something more than just pure performance to compel me into doing so. Certainly anytime aesthetics come into play, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and if the Cumulus rods’ stylings appeal to you, you will be richly rewarded with a very fine stick. For me, while I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with the SMLCX71MH, the search continues.


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