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Rod Review

Beyond just Bottom Bouncing with the Shimano premium Cumara rod (continued)


Applications cont'd: Two trips to El Salto and our test rod has now caught over a hundred fish, one of them over 11 lbs, and many in the 5-6lb class. The superior sensitivity offered by this rod definitely gave me an edge when it came to fishing plastics like weightless senkos and Texas rigged Zoom lizards.


No traditional hook hanger here, the Cumara's hook keeper is an aluminum insert in the EVA grip

Price & Warranty: The Cumara is nearly perfect when it comes to balance and performance, and the only real area that could be improved is the hook hanger. While it is hard to fault Shimano for being innovative there are some tweaks that can be made to make the hook hanger so that it can address a wider range of baits, and be easier used in low light conditions. We were impressed by the surprisingly wide array of baits that the Cumara was able to competently address for being a finesse plastics rod, and would like to be able to hang all those baits on the hook hanger with ease.

The hook keeper is designed so you can unhook your bait and get to fishing quickly in one motion

The Cumara is the most expensive rod in the Shimano freshwater lineup and the price point of $199.99 for these rods brings them into the G.Loomis and St. Croix space, though not up to the top end of it. The longer 7’2” rods retail for just 20 dollars more. While still cheaper than ultra premium rods like that of Megabass and the Daiwa Steez series the Cumara rods are a considerable investment for anglers.

Cast tests at Clear Lake

Shimano does have one advantage going for them however, and that edge is the Core baitcaster. The Core matches up perfectly with the Cumara in terms of balance, feel, and overall aesthetics. I’ve talked to many dealers that have said that some anglers come into the store are on the edge when it comes time to pony up for a Core or a Cumara, that is until they try both of them together and they instantly are sold. The rig just feels "right" in your hands, and that feeling is only enhanced when you have a chance to fish the equally light and sensitive outfit. As with other Shimano rods the Cumara’s other great strength is the service offered by Shimano’s over the counter warranty program. You really don’t have to worry about fishing this rod hard with such a program.

An insert following in the tradition of the Crucial series

Breaking it down Shimano is proving that they are just as much a rod company as they are a reel manufacturer, and you can’t walk into a tackle shop without running into one of their rods. While Shimano gained momentum in the mainstream rod segment the Crucial and now Cumara offerings are solidifying Shimano as a player in the high end rod space. Adoption for these rods always takes more time than mainstream priced offerings, but the Cumara is in fact priced aggressively.

On our second trip back to El Salto the Cumara was just as good. this rod continues to grow on me and has proven to be much more than just a bottom bouncing plastics stick

Consider the competition, the Daiwa Steez rods retail for over a hundred dollars more. While the Steez rods and even more expensive Steez Compile-X cater more to the enthusiast angler the Cumara plays more in between entry high-end and  premium, a market occupied by many of the Tier 1 and custom rod manufacturers. Based on features, style, and innovation the Cumara is actually a very good value.

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 Cumara CUC68M Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality The Cumara exhibited a very good build quality for it's price class. It features good use of materials and is put together in a clean package 7
Performance Great performance in a surprisingly wide range of applications. This may have been designed to be a bottom bouncing rod but it can do a whole lot more 8
Price How can a 200 dollar rod win a best value award? When it offers more performance than the price implies. This rod is worth every penny and then some, and can hold its own with many more expensive premium rods 9
Features The rod also sports great features like overall light weight, split reel seat, innovative hook hanger 8
Design (Ergonomics) Good overall, and while we liked the fact that Shimano created a new hook hanger the implementation doesn't accommodate as wide a range of baits as other hook hangers 7
Application This stick can be used  for so much more than just bouncing contact baits on the bottom 8

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:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Very Sensitive IM-10 blank L Hook hanger not as good for some lures or in low light conditions
J Perfect match for the Core  
J Innovative hook hanger  
J Surprisingly versatile  
J Great price for what you get  

Conclusion: The Shimano Cumara is the natural companion for the Core, and together they seem so much more than they are just by themselves. Still, the Cumara can be paired nicely with other Shimano reels (my next choice being the Chronarch Mg), but seems to lose some of its lightweight luster when paired with heavier reels. Other than the Daiwa Steez Reel/Rod combo there are no other single manufacturer offers that are able to offer such a unique feel. The Cumara breaks into the high end space for Shimano, and while enthusiasts are still waiting for some variant of the Shimano FD rods to cross the pond and compete with the Steez head on the Cumara represents for many US anglers a true premium offering. Big fish after big fish the Cumara proved to have the sensitivity to detect the lightest of bites, and I would rank it right up there with Loomis IMX in terms of sensitivity, and when it came to pulling the big ones in the Cumara proved to be up to the challenge as well, exhibiting more muscle than I expected. The rod really grew on me, and the more I fished it the more I felt like Shimano had really done the homework and delivered a truly worthy upgrade from their Crucial series. If the hook hanger was just tweaked a bit the rod would have been perfect for me, but even as it is I can wholeheartedly recommend the Cumara for any angler looking for a home for their Core, or any other lightweight baitcaster. When you consider how much rod you are getting feature and performance-wise and compare it with other Tier 1 offerings as well as those from smaller rod builders the Cumara really proves to be an outstanding value at 199-219 dollars.


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