Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Fishing Rod Review

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At some point in their fishing career just about every angler has tried the Ugly Stik in one form or another.

Since the 70’s Shakespeare has been making these awesome rods for beginners and pros alike.

And they aren’t popular just because they are one of the cheapest set ups out there. It is because they are durable and reliable.

Ugly Stick – GX2

Now we have the latest incarnation with the Ugly Stik GX2 rod. 

In this review I am going to cover why you should be looking at this rod to get started and forget the rest.

Wallet Friendly

The new GX2 generation of rods from Ugly Stik is available is both casting and spinning models and also comes in at a budget price. What’s truly surprising is that they perform much better than expected for a product at that price point.

If you want to get serious about fishing, filling your collection with rods that cost hundreds of dollars is not only daunting but also impractical. I’m not saying the expensive ones are bad, but when you are just starting to fish, spending this much is not worth it.

With the Ugly Stik Gx2 rod, you can buy as many as you need to swap out rods quickly. You can hookup during a tournament and no matter what species you are fishing, you will always be ready for the action that you are looking for.

Blank Construction

First off this new generation of technology is called Ugly Tech and features a new blank through reel seat design that is a combination of traditional fiberglass with the addition of a touch of graphite.  

Due to the addition of the graphite, the glossy black finish has given way to what I find to be a more eye appealing matte black finish.  The rod is then highlighted with the classic diamond winding pattern in silver and red right above the grip.

The rod still has the signature clear tip that lets you know you have an Ugly Stik in your hands, or as is the case for some of us, it lets us pick the Stik out of the pile of rods we have stashed in the garage.  

More importantly the clear tip delivers the sensitivity you need to feel the very light strike of the most stealthy fish to the durability that is needed to handle a large 50 lbs+ redfish or even a 100 lbs+ tarpon.

I’ve taken my Ugly Stik out for chasing small bluefish as well as monster striped bass and it does as well with small offerings as it does the big ones.

Probably one of the the biggest changes that most people will notice is the new guide design.  Shakespeare has engineered a whole new single piece guide that they refer to as Ugly Tuff™.  

The old guides were tough, but they featured the traditional pop-out ceramic insert that had the potential to get broken.  The guide is now a one-piece stamped stainless steel design that makes it extremely durable and one would almost say, near impossible to destroy.

The Power

There is no one size fits all when it comes to rods and the Ugly Stik GX2 is no exception. I like to have a few different types and bring two or three out with me when I go kayak fishing so I can be ready for exactly what I encounter out on the water.

The power ratings for these rods includes:

  • Ultra light – great for small fish, finesse fishing where you need extreme sensitivity for setting the hook.
  • Light – great for trout and panfish where you need some extra lifting power throughout the rod length but still maintain high sensitivity.
  • Medium and medium heavy – these models bring you up to the majority of fresh water species and even most saltwater.
  • Heavy power – can cover large pike, salmon, and lots of large saltwater species

Since the price is so nice you can at least have two different ones. If you can only have one then I recommend the medium heavy. This way you aren’t forced to let a big one go to preserve your rod in case you’re using too light tackle.

If you can afford two then I would go for the light version and one medium heavy so you can be out catching baitfish and then switch to the medium heavy when the big ones come rolling in.

The Reel Deal

If you opted for the Ugly Stik GX2 combo with the reel and not just the rod, then you may be happy with the addition or a little disappointed.

Though it is machined double anodized aluminum spool with oversized bail wire for improved durability, it isn’t at the same level of craftsmanship as the blank.

The seat is nice and offers some comfort and there is nothing inherently wrong with the reel, but if you already have a favorite reel for the size and power of the rod you end up with, then you may want to go for the rod and not the combo.


The Ugly Stik GX2 rod is such a solid and reliable set up that I can’t imagine not having it in my rod rack.

They are almost impossible to break unless you are really negligent or using a light rod to go for huge prey.

Some people start out with the Ugly Stik and then upgrade later, but I find myself going with this rod even when I have more expensive ones ready to use.

Ugly Stik GX2 is a powerhorse and deserves to be used for years.

If you have any questions about this rod that wasn’t covered in the review then let me know by dropping a line in the box below. 

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