Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Rod Review

The Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Rod is an example where products from time to time sink everything they have into a particular approach.

For the Shakespeare spinning pole, that focus lands squarely on strength and durability, though this option can easily move from fresh water fishing to salt water fishing.

This choice significantly increases the fishing life of these poles and provides a wide berth for picking properly sized lures– almost regardless of the spinning reel.

That said, this series makes some uncommon design and material choices that aren’t right for every fishing trip, but is it the right one for you?

Pros

  • Outrageously durable, nigh-unbreakable
  • Extremely strong guide system
  • Numerous spec options
  • Reasonable price range

Cons

  • Not the most sensitive
  • Not the best handle
  • No hook keeper

Review

Construction (craftsmanship, make quality)

The Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Rod employs the Ugly Tech Blank construction which uses a hybrid carbon fiber graphite and fiberglass construction.

This approach places the Ugly Tech construction pretty much in a category on its own when it comes to durability, making it a surprisingly good choice for saltwater fishing.

And while this doesn’t apply to all of the fishing poles eyelets, the use of Ugly Stik’s patented Clear Tip design in this series helps increase the pole’s sensitivity.

However, it’s the durability added to what is generally one of the weakest points of a spinning fishing pole that really brings something new to the table.

Thankfully, Shakespeare doesn’t end this approach to construction there as the company applies the same kind of focus to its guide system.

Specifically, Ugly Tuff guides use the proprietary Ugly Tuff single-piece stainless steel design that not only handles braided fishing line with ease but also prevents the dreaded, and time-consuming, insert popouts.

That said, these spinning cast rods don’t follow through with this promise throughout the build as any fan of cork will tell you since it uses foam instead.

And while this spinning lineup doesn’t come with the popular pistol-style grip, it does offer models with an extended handle to provide greater control and more leverage

Length

Whether one-piece rods, two-piece rods, or even the uncommon four-piece rods, this spin casting series affords multiple-piece variants and breakdowns.

However, this spin casting rod offers so many piece variants, you should have no trouble finding the right one for lightweight casting applications like freshwater fishing in lakes from a fishing kayak or heavy models for salt water fishing off of the coast.

Regardless of where your fishing trip takes you, you can rest assured that Ugly Stik rods offer the right length with options for 4’6″, 4’8″, 4’9″, 5′, 5’6″, 5’10”, 6′, 6’6″, 7′, and 9′.

Material

This aspect is where the Shakespeare GX2 simultaneously earns its keep while also allowing it to keep its price low when compared to other models that can handle inshore fishing.

It’s worth noting that while the GX2 isn’t the only fishing pole on the market that boasts a hybrid build, it’s one of the few that does so to this degree.

A perfect example of this can be found in any number of different videos online where fishermen try their best to break the pole– often without success.

That’s not to suggest that you can’t render this spinning series unusable with enough focused abuse, but medium-heavy power models shouldn’t have a problem with large, aggressive fishes.

Along the blank, you can see a similar focus applied to the guide system which uses stainless steel to provide rings that won’t break or cut, regardless of the line you use.

The only exception to this is the fiberglass Clear Tip which is not only extremely durable, at a point that’s generally weak on other fishing poles, but also increases the rod’s sensitivity.

Finally, the handle uses EVA foam which might be a bit disappointing to some, but that this price point, it’s kind of hard to argue with Shakespeare’s decision on this one.

Action

One of the Ugly Stik’s key features on this spin casting rod is the ability to choose between different actions.

Normally, you expect a fast action and try to match the choice of power rating with your styles of fishing.

However, Ugly Stik rods include options that extend beyond the fast taper in either direction, both faster and slower.

So, when fresh water fishing in lakes, you can choose a fast or even extra-fast taper to increase the rod’s casting accuracy and sensitivity.

On the flip side, the moderate and moderate-fast tapers allow you to get more casting distance out of heavier models, when bank fishing, in a fishing kayak, or in other lightweight casting applications.

Power

The Ugly Stik GX2 has a number of key features with the number of different power ratings being a primary one, even if medium power models tend to dominate.

However, the wide variety of power settings gives you a choice of power rating to find the correct power setting for a wide range of fishing applications.

For example, you can choose a medium power spinning rod to target freshwater fishes and a heavy power model to target saltwater fishes when inshore fishing.

While medium power rods occupy the majority of the market, these spinning models include heavy power rods for spin fishing applications when trying to catch larger fish like saltwater fishes.

In fact, the only power setting missing from the Ugly Stik series of fishing rods is medium-light, but with ultra-light and light power models available, this shouldn’t cause any real issues.

Rod Guides

Ugly Stik rods use stainless steel guides with a single piece to help prevent insert pop-outs and stand up to the strain of braided fishing line.

Unlike traditional pop-out ceramic inserts or cheap plastic inserts, these fishing rod guides can handle heavier lures or lighter lures with equal proficiency.

Of course, heavy lures or larger lures on braided fishing line won’t work with cheap plastic inserts or softer fishing poles eyelets.

This is one of the key features as these fishing rods guides not only don’t pop out but braided lines won’t slice through them like with aluminum oxide either.

That said, these fishing rods guides aren’t the smoothest, regardless of the treatments applied to the fishing poles eyelets, and can cause snags or tangles without good casting technique.

Handle (material, shape, etc)

The Ugly Stik GX2 eschews the fan-favorite cork grip handle in favor of foam grips which, while a bit disappointing, still fall within line of what you would expect from an angler-friendly option.

Keep in mind that while a cork grip handle might be one of the more preferred options, the dual EVA foam grip provided with this pole tends to stand up better to abuse than most foam handles.

Uses (Who is this good for)

The Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 spinning rod is an extremely versatile fishing pole with the extra lifting power necessary to catch numerous inshore saltwater species while transitioning effortlessly to bass fishing or trout fishing.

That said, this isn’t a “do everything” rod (as the budget price attests) and shouldn’t really be seen as spin casting models properly suited for finesse fishing.

On the other hand, this spinning casting rod still serves well for freshwater fishing for larger fish species that are especially aggressive fish.

However, stealthy fishes can give this pole and its spinning variants fits since the little nibbles don’t transfer their vibrations nearly as well along a hybrid fiberglass rod blank compared to pure carbon fiber.

This, of course, is considering the experienced fishermen who are adept at many different styles of fishing when the real target demographic for this rod is a beginner fisherman.

The Ugly Stik GX2 Casting series is an ideal choice for beginners by using a design for strength that finds the sweet spot between power and price range.

Reel and Real Seat Compatibility

The Shakespeare Ugly Stik employs a trig-style reel seat with an exposed reel-seat design that comes in both conventional locking and twist locking builds.

The balanced graphite reel seats of the exposed reel-seat design of this spin casting rod help bump up the sensitivity of a series of fishing rods not really made for that type of fishing.

Regardless, you shouldn’t have difficulty with the size of fishing reels as this lineup can handle anything up to a 4000 class.

There certainly aren’t many fresh water fishing reels that should give you any trouble unless you go above and beyond to find the largest class available.

Conclusion (Wrap Up)

The Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Rod provides plenty of fishing pole that only pops up in products from time to time.

Whether you need the extra power from medium-heavy power models for salt water fishing or something lighter weight for your next bank fishing, this choice provides plenty of fishing pole with the correct power at an affordable price.

Because the price category designates this a budget rod, you shouldn’t have difficulty filling out your quiver of rods with this fishing gear.

Even better, you get numerous refined features at no extra cost, depending on the price category, to help make meaningful fishing memories whether you’re a beginner or an experienced angler.