Expert Review: Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning RodPublished on 01/30/2023 · 5 min readThis review is my honest opinion of the fishing rod, which I purchased with my own money in April of 2018.
All photos courtesy of Michael Matey
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the fishing rod, which I purchased with my own money in April of 2018.
The Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Rod is an affordable spinning rod that has a wide range of applications for the beginner angler.
About the rod I own
- Model: 2018 Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Rod (this model has been made with the same Ugly Tech technology since 2013, so there are no differences between the 2018 model and the 2022 model).
- Rod Length: 6’6”
- Rod Power: Medium
- Rod Action: Fast
- Rod Pieces: 2
- Rod Material: Graphite and Fiberglass
- Preferred fishing style: Flipping, Pitching, and Finesse
- Experience: 10 years of fishing
- When I bought this: April 2018
- Reel Paired with Rod: Pflueger President
- Line Paired Rod: 10–20lb braided line
- Days tested: 150
- Waters I’ve used it on: Freshwater rivers, creeks, ponds, and lakes
- Species targeted with rod: Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Bluegill, Crappie, Northern Pike, Perch, Carp
How it performs
What I was looking for
I was searching for an affordable spinning rod that could be beat up without suffering any major damage. I wanted a rod that I could pair with a 2500-size reel and be used to target many different species of fish.
Why I chose this gear
The main reason I chose this rod was the price. It is very affordable and surprisingly well-made given its affordability. I was considering many different brands in this price range but ultimately chose Ugly Stik because it is a brand that has been tried and tested for decades. It also had the best reviews for a beginner spinning rod I could find.
What I love about it
- Quality: Surprisingly, this rod is genuinely comparable to more expensive rods in the same class when it comes to quality. The grip is made from an EVA material, which is extremely comfortable when casting all day. The Ugly Tech technology combines graphite and fiberglass, which makes for a sturdy yet sensitive rod. The guides are stainless steel, so they won’t rust and allow the line to feed through them smoothly.
- Durability: The number one thing that attracted me to this rod was its durability. I’ve personally been using it (very roughly) for over four years now. I’ve thrown it on the ground dozens of times, dropped it in the water, and even closed a car door on it, but it’s held up good as new.
- Versatility: This rod is extremely versatile. I’ve used it to catch everything from small bluegill to 30lb grass carp.
- Application: I’ve used this rod in large river systems with fast current conditions as well as small ponds. Although I’ve never personally used it in saltwater, the stainless steel guides and graphite/fiber carbon blank should be perfectly fine in the salt with a freshwater rinse after use.
- Power: I own the medium power version of the rod and found it very true to this level of power. This rod would be best suited for bass in the 1-5lb size.
- Literal Weight: This rod is relatively light, which makes for easy work when casting it for extended periods of time.
- Grip: The grip is made from an EVA material. I find it very comfortable for casting all day long—although some anglers might prefer cork.
- Warranty: Ugly Stik provides a seven-year warranty for any defects in its products. This does not include any normal wear and tear from use.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Ease of casting: This rod is a bit stiff and doesn’t have the smooth casting feel of something like a G. Loomis rod.
- Sensitivity: Due to its extreme durability, this rod does lack sensitivity compared to more expensive rods. That being said, the signature clear fiberglass tip of Ugly Stik rods does increase the sensitivity somewhat.
- Aesthetics: This isn’t the prettiest rod on the market, but it is called an Ugly Stik after all. What it’s lacking in aesthetics, it makes up for in its price and durability.
Favorite moment with this gear
My favorite moment with this rod was a bit unconventional. I was fishing for bluegill using corn and hooked into a 30-pound grass carp. I was shocked at how well this medium power rod held up to such a large fish. I was able to reel the behemoth in under ten minutes. I was quite impressed with how well the rod stood up to the test.
Value for the money vs. other options
The Ugly Stik GX2 is by far one of the highest-quality fishing rods for beginners. It was redesigned in 2013 using the new Ugly Tech and has been essentially the same ever since. It is comparable to rods that are twice the price. For comparison, the Daiwa Crossfire LT is around the same price but doesn’t come close to the durability of the Ugly Stik. This is not meant to be a top-tier rod. Although it doesn’t perform exceptionally by the standards of more expensive brands, it gets the job done just as well.
If I were recommending a fishing rod to someone just getting into freshwater fishing, I’d choose the Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 one hundred percent of the time. The value and durability for the price are unbeatable.