When it comes to fishing rods, a person’s budget could be a very small window in a large landscape. And while most of us would lunge at the chance to outfit all of our rod lockers with $600+ fishing rods, it’s not reality. Reality is where I’m at and where I try to ground my reviews. One of the biggest requests I get for reviews is on rods less than $200. Today, I am happy to say we have that on the menu with a rod that has flown under the radar for over a year, the Shimano Curado line of rods.
The Curado rods come in at around $160 and have a large variety of types and sizes. Here is more on that.
About the Shimano Curado Rod Line
Shimano introduced the all-new Curado bass rods in 2017, offered in a mixture of both versatile and technique-specific actions for every bass fishing situation. Available in 21 models, at the core of the 11 new Curado casting and five spinning rods are light and sensitive high modulus UD carbon blend and Nano resin blanks, while the five Curado cranking rods have high modulus carbon/glass blend with Nano resin blanks.
Within their range among bass rods, the blank construction provides anglers with increased sensitivity, along with being lighter and extremely strong and durable. Shimano uses Fuji stainless K guides with Alconite rings, and either Fuji PTS and VSS reel seats with matte rubber soft touch painting. With the casting rods, the sleek matte finish to the blank and components matches up well with Shimano’s new Curado K baitcasting reels. Additionally, the rods have high-grade AAA cork grips – full cork on the casting rods, split grip design on the spinning rods.
The nine standard Curado casting rods include 6’10” models for jerkbait, topwater and spinnerbait situations, and a special ‘dock rod’ to skip jigs; 7’2” rods for jig and worm use; a 7’5” frog rod; 7’6” lengths for small swimbaits and Carolina rigs; and an 8’ model for big swimbaits and magnum-size spoons.
For flipping and punching, there’s a 7’6” Curado designed strictly for use with fluorocarbon, and a 7’7” strictly for use with braided line like PowerPro.
When the situation calls for crankbaits, anglers have their choice among rods in 7’2”, 7’4”, 7’6”, 7’8” and 8’ lengths for use with 5/16-oucnes small cranks to 2-ounce magnum size deep diving cranks.
On the spinning side – and to match up with reels like Shimano’s new Ultegra series, there are 6’10” Curado rods for dropshot and ShakyHead use, all-around use 7’1” models, and a 7’4” rod for deep water smallmouth action, or to drag a Ned rig or big ShakyHeads for largemouth.
For the tests, I chose a spinning rod in a Medium and then casting rods in Medium, Medium Heavy, and Heavy. Fishing everything from a light drop shot to a big 10XD crankbait I put these rods through over 40 hours total out of my kayak, casting and catching through lots of conditions and water depths. Here is my report.
Curado Rods: The Good
I love cork. When I say cork I mean good cork and not just a thin cork wrap. All of the Curado rods feature AAA cork which will give you great durability and longevity. In the casting rods, you’ll find a full cork grip and in the spinning rods a split cork grip.
The Curado rods pair amazingly well with the Curado K (exactly what it was designed for) and with their price points being in the mid-range, you could actually have a Curado rod and reel combo for about $350. Not bad at all.
The Curado rods have lots of different variations so let’s chat about a couple of them.
The 7’6″ Moderate Fast, Medium Heavy Curado is now my go-to jig rod. It has a ton of backbone but still a really good parabolic bend for getting fish in the boat. The 7′ Moderate action, Medium power is my new favorite squarebill chunking rod. Some folks might feel like it’s a little light but for really whipping a bait around, getting that glass feel, and great hooksets it’s a winner for me.
The exposed blank under the reel, hookkeeper, Fuji guides, and blended blank are all on par with a $150-$200 rod but the cork really puts it over the top against the competition. If you’ve been fishing cork for 30 years as I have, you know the feel of good cork and not good cork. This is definitely high grade.
Performance wise, this line shines in the power fishing and cranking categories for me.
The spinning line of Curado rods is a different feel than what you might expect. If you need a spinning setup with some backbone (fishing a spook or in the marsh) you’ll love the strength and power of this line. A Medium power Curado felt more like a Medium Heavy compared to other brands and even some of the Shimano line.
While that’s great for the popping cork or Zara Spook crowd, the drop shot guys might take notice. What the spinning rods add in the backbone, they lose a touch in sensitivity. This is not going to be the spinning rod for 30ft, clear water, 1/8 ounce drop shot on 6lb line. This would, however, make a great fluke skipping under docks rod or skimming a surface bait over grass rod.
Final Thoughts on the Curado Rods
It’s important to note, you can tell this is way more than an entry level rod when you use it and especially when you fight a fish with it. The Exage is great for $99 but this is a definite upgrade. For those that have used Shimano over the years, this is taking the space of the Crucial line.
Like with any rods, the Curado line will have true standouts and others that are more niche and not as widely appreciated. If you’re in the market for a beefy stick, a crankbait rod, or a spinning rod you can tackle a redfish with, this might be the rod you’ve been waiting on. If you need a great all-purpose rod for less than $200, I’m sure there is a Curado that will fit the bill.