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The 6 Best Ugly Stik Rods for Expert and Amateur Anglers

Like most people, I grew up watching Ugly Stik Rod commercials on TV and dreaming about having one.

I admired their durability and toughness, so when my dad got me an Ugly Stik rod for my birthday, I couldn’t wait to test it. The rod was everything I hoped it would be, and then some.

I have expanded my collection of Ugly Stik rods substantially since childhood, but I still keep that first rod my dad got for me.

The brand’s spinning, casting, or jigging rods are among the best I’ve ever used, and I think they’re as reliable as G.Loomis, Penn, or Shimano models.

I’ve reviewed and tested some of the best Ugly Stik rods for novice and seasoned anglers and covered the factors that can help you find the best model for your favorite type of fishing, so let’s have a look.

Bottom Line Up Front

The price-performance ratio is the primary reason Ugly Stik rods are so popular. The brand’s rods are famous for their flexibility and are generally considered indestructible, but despite all this, their price is often their most attractive feature.

Striper Spinning Rod is one of Ugly Stik’s most affordable models and is ideal for an amateur angler looking for a tough and versatile rod.

On the other hand, the Carbon Inshore Spinning Rod or Tiger Elite Jigging Rod are among the brand’s best models for expert anglers.

My Top Picks at a Glance

Model Rod Power Length  Price Range
Striper Spinning Rod Medium Heavy 7 feet $
GX2 Casting Rod Medium Light, Medium, Heavy. 5.6 to 7.6 feet $
Carbon Inshore Spinning Rod Medium Light, Medium, Medium Heavy 6.6 or 7 feet $$$
Carbon Salmon Steelhead Casting Rod Medium, Medium Heavy, Heavy 9 to 10.6 feet $$$
Tiger Elite Jigging Rod Medium Heavy, X Heavy 5.8 or 6.3 feet $$
Bigwater Spinning Rod Medium, Medium Heavy 6 to 8 feet $$

Ugly Stik Brand Overview

Shakespear, one of the pioneering fishing equipment companies, developed the first Ugly Stik rod using a then-novel Howald process in 1976.

Since then, Ugly Stik has grown into one of the world’s biggest fishing rod brands and has produced some of the most popular spinning and casting rod models in the last few decades.

Almost all brick-and-mortar fishing gear stores have at least a few of the Ugly Stik models on display. These models are usually inexpensive, which might prompt you to think that their price reflects their quality.

This couldn’t be further from the truth since Ugly Stik rods are famous for their flexibility, strength, and long lifespans. However, determining which brand’s model you should get might be complicated due to the vast selection of reliable and affordable rods.

The Key Aspects to Consider When Choosing an Ugly Stik Rod

I am a fan of impulsive purchases, but I don’t encourage you to buy the first Ugly Stik rod you pick up. I’m not saying that some of the brand’s models aren’t worth buying, but rather that you should choose a rod suitable for your fishing style.

Ugly Stik offers different rod types, and you can choose from the surf, jigging, spinning, or casting models. Each type has unique characteristics, so you should only get a jigging model if you’re familiar with this angling technique and frequently use it to target pike, trout, or bass.

The brand’s spinning and casting rods are the most versatile, and I recommend opting for one or the other if you need an all-purpose rod you can use in saltwater and freshwater conditions.

Let’s look at other factors that can help you select the right Ugly Stik rod for you.

  • Rod Power: This metric shows you the rod’s resistance underweight, and you can get a medium-light model if you primarily use small lures or a heavy power rod capable of handling heavy lures.
  • Line Weight: You must check the rod’s line weight to find out which lines you can use with it.
  • Rod’s material: Most Ugly Stik rods are made of a mixture of fiberglass and graphite.

Reasons to Get an Ugly Stik Rod

I rarely buy rods, reels, and other equipment made by unknown brands and instead prefer to get my fishing gear from established brands.

Ugly Stik has been among the industry’s leading rod manufacturers for decades, so its reputation is reason enough to get one of its models.

The quality of Ugly Stik rods is another major argument for adding them to your rod collection.

Aside from flexible and durable bodies, these rods are often equipped with corrosion-resistant guides, stainless steel reel seats, cozy grips with anti-slip properties, and other high-end features.

Most importantly, you can get an excellent Ugly Stik rod for less than a hundred dollars, which makes them more affordable than their competitors.

Selection Criteria

I’ve been angling with Ugly Stik rods since the early 1990s and have had a chance to use dozens of models. Still, I couldn’t rely solely on my experience while selecting the best Ugly Stik rods since so many models deserve a mention.

I had to use a broad spectrum of selection criteria to identify the best Ugly Stik rods for anglers of all skill levels. I started the process by choosing the top models in each rod category and utilizing other factors to determine which ones to include in this article.

Here’s a quick overview of the key selection criteria I relied on to pick the best Ugly Stik rods.

  • Rod length: A rod’s casting accuracy or hook set depends on its size, so I used this parameter to help you find a model that allows you to cast a bait with high accuracy or a rod you can use for long-distance casts.
  • Rod’s price range: The models I listed in this article are suitable for all budgets.

The 6 Best Ugly Stik Rods

Striper Spinning Rod: The Best Budget Pick

Don’t miss out on the Ugly Stik Striper Spinning Rod if you’re looking for your first spinning rod. Versatility is the reason I think so highly of this Ugly Stik’s model, as you can use it to catch freshwater and saltwater fish species.

The rod is 7 feet long and enables you to practice long-distance casts. Its medium-heavy power and moderately fast action ensure a high degree of hook-setting power and allow you to adjust to different types of fish.

Moreover, the Ugly Rod Clear Tip makes reading the pole easy and helps you react quickly after the fish bites. The rod has stainless steel guides that won’t rust even if you frequently use the pole for saltwater fishing.

The EVA handle is comfortable, so you won’t get tired if you use the rod for the entire day, and it ensures you can hold on to it if your hands get wet.

Pros

  • The rod is perfectly balanced
  • Its maximum line capacity is 25lbs
  • This model is great for anglers who prefer using heavier lures
  • One-piece rod construction

Cons

  • Casting lightweight lures with this rod can be difficult

GX2 Casting Rod: The Most Popular Ugly Stik Rod

I’m a huge fan of models from the Ugly Stik GX2 series, and the GX2 Casting Rod is probably one of my favorite models.

You can choose from five length options and get a 5.6-foot model if casting accuracy is your priority, or opt for a 7.6-foot version of the rod to get more casting distance.

It’s important to note that the maximum line weight on shorter GX2 casting rod models is limited to 12 lbs. So, choosing a 6.6-foot or 7-foot-long variant of this fishing pole will enable you to use 20 lbs. lines.

Like all the brand’s signature models, the GX2 Casting Rod has a blank made of a mix of graphite and fiberglass and a Clear Tip that improves its sensitivity.

The rod’s power varies by length, and you can get a medium light or heavy power model depending on how long you want the pole to be. Check out our Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning rod review if you want to compare it to the GX2 Casting Rod.

Pros

  • A budget-friendly price
  • Ugly Tuff guides allow the line to run smoothly
  • It enables anglers to use light and heavy lures
  • The rod matches perfectly with the Zebco 808 reel

Cons

  • Holding the rod for an entire day can be tiring
  • It doesn’t perform well in saltwater conditions

Carbon Inshore Spinning Rod – The Best Ugly Stik Rod for Inshore Angling

A single inshore fishing trip was more than enough for me to understand why the Ugly Stik Carbon Inshore Spinning rod is ideal for inshore angling. It’s one of the lightest and toughest inshore rods I’ve ever used.

Its 24-ton graphite blank can withstand all the challenges you might throw at it, and at the same time, it is highly flexible and responsive. Two length options are available for this model, and you can get a 6.6-foot or 7-foot version of the Ugly Stik’s rod.

The rod’s power rating ranges from Medium Light to Medium Heavy, but don’t forget that some power options are only available for the rod’s 7-foot-long version. The rod’s action is either extra fast or fast, so you’ll get plenty of hook-set power, whichever option you choose.

The rod features a standard spinning reel seat that allows you to pair it with a Penn Slammer IV, Shimano Nasci FC, or a similar spinning reel.

Pros

  • Ugly Stik offers a 7-year warranty for this model
  • Exceptional durability and strength
  • The rod’s guides are corrosion-resistant
  • The pole’s performance exceeds its price range

Cons

  • The rod’s maximum line capacity is just 17lbs

Carbon Salmon and Steelhead Casting Rod – The Best Heavy Power Ugly Stik Rod

Regardless of the technique you’re using to target steelheads or salmon, you’ll need a rod that’s at least 8 feet long. The Ugly Stik Carbon Salmon and Steelhead Casting Rod might be a good choice if you’re searching for a 9-foot-long or longer medium-heavy or heavy rod.

The model’s two-piece construction enables you to assemble it quickly, while its ferrules provide a strong connection between 100% graphite blank segments.

The rod’s medium-heavy power rating vouches that you won’t have trouble fighting salmon or steelhead and enables you to cast heavy lures easily. The casting rod’s line weight ranges from 8 to 30 lbs. and all of Ugly Stik’s fishing pole versions have a moderate action rating.

All rod variants are equipped with an oversized carbon-fiber foregrip and a full rear grip.

Pros

  • The rod is lighter than most salmon and steelhead casting rods
  • It’s suitable for a broad range of fishing techniques
  • Anglers can cast heavy lures with this rod
  • Two-piece construction makes traveling with the rod easier

Cons

  • The rod isn’t versatile
  • Exceeding the rod’s weight limit can damage it

Tiger Elite Jigging Rod: The Best Ugly Stik Jigging Rod

I don’t consider myself a jigging expert, but every once in a while, I like to roll out my jigging equipment and target catfish or salmon.

The Tiger Elite Jigging Rod is the centerpiece of my jigging gear, and I love using it because I don’t have to change the rod whenever I want to target a different species.

Besides versatility, the rod offers exceptional strength due to its X Heavy and Heavy power ratings. Moderate action makes the rod ideal for bottom fishing or jigging with live baits, and you can use lures that weigh between 4oz and 14oz.

In addition, you can choose between rod versions with 50lbs to 100lbs and 100lbs and 200lbs line weight limits, so you can use this jigging rod to angle for trophy-size fish regardless of the version you choose.

Pros

  • The highly sensitive tip makes snapping the rod easy
  • The rod’s graphite core is protected by the E-Glass layer
  • Handles feature rubber gimbals
  • A versatile rod suitable for different types of freshwater and saltwater fish

Cons

  • Finding a reel that matches this jigging rod takes time
  • The rod is available in just two sizes

Bigwater Spinning Rod: The Best Ugly Stik Spinning Rod

What I like the most about the Ugly Stik Bigwater Spinning Rod is its smart and functional design. It’s easy to underestimate how powerful this spinning rod is before you test it because it weighs less than 20oz.

The graphite-fiberglass blank is the reason the rod is so lightweight, flexible, and durable. The rod’s length ranges from 6 to 8 feet, and it can have a medium or medium-heavy power rating.

The rod’s maximum line weight limit is 40 lbs. and it’s one of Ugly Stik’s most reliable options for offshore fishing. All versions of the Bigwater Spinning Rod have EVA grips, while the rubber gimble is available for some models.

The rod features a Fuji reel seat that is compatible with most spinning reel models.

Pros

  • Stainless steel guides don’t corrode when used in saltwater conditions
  • One-piece and two-piece construction options are available for this model
  • Anglers can use lightweight and heavy lures with this rod
  • It’s unlikely to break while you’re fighting a large fish

Cons

  • The rod can be difficult to handle due to its size

Frequently Asked Questions About Ugly Stik Rods

Are Two-Piece Ugly Stik Rods Worth Buying?

Ugly Stik models with two-piece designs are as durable as the brand’s one-piece rods, and they can be a valuable addition to your rod collection.

Do All Ugly Stik Rods Have 7-Year Warranties?

The brand offers five and seven-year warranties for its rods, so you must check how long the warranty is for the model you’d like to get.

What Are the Upkeep Requirements for Ugly Stick Rods?

Aside from cleaning the rod after each fishing trip, there are no other upkeep requirements.

My Verdict: Which Ugly Stik Rod Should You Choose?

My first fishing rod was a Ugly Stik rod, and even after all these years, Ugly Stik is still one of my favorite brands.

So, if you, like me, want your first fishing rod to be a Ugly Stik rod, I suggest getting a versatile and inexpensive model like the GX2 Casting Rod or the Striper Spinning Rod.

On the other hand, models like the Carbon Salmon and Steelhead Casting Rod and Carbon Inshore Spinning Rod are best for expert anglers who target specific fish species.