Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Review

Is Shakespeare’s Ugly Stik Really Worth The Hype?

If you’ve ever pictured Darth Vader chillin’ on a lake, fishing, and drinking beer, this is probably the rod he was holding. The slim build and the black and red color pattern make the GX2 a really eye-catching fishing rod.

Looks are important when you’re trying to impress fellow enthusiasts, but can the GX2 actually fish? Read on for details about the actual build and capabilities of this sci-fi looking rod.

Ugly Stik GX2

Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2

Anyone who’s been alive since the late 70s has probably held an Ugly Stik rod in their hands. The old models were not too pretty. They weren’t too bad; it’s just that the design was very rudimentary compared to what other companies offered at the time.

Despite the early unfortunate look, Ugly Stik rods were a statement of durability and precision. They were and still are great tools to have for finesse fishing applications. After a few decades, Ugly Stik got much less ugly, so it can now be proud of the appearance too. A good example of how they maintained high quality construction while also improving on the design is the GX2 model.

One of the hallmarks of this rod is its durability. It can haul in some pigs, and even though it’s a budget rod, it simply will not break.

Who’s it for?

If you often find yourself giving in to fatigue, then the GX2 can be your best friend. The lightweight construction is perfect for a full day of fishing. It’s easy to maneuver and it has an excellent grip.

The GX2 also looks really cool. It’s not too flashy, not too colored, it has just enough to draw attention. It looks sporty and yet totally professional. If looks are important to you when you shop for a fishing rod, you can’t go wrong with the GX2.

There’s another category of people that should give the GX2 a try. It doesn’t matter if you like or don’t like a lightweight rod. For the sake of nostalgia, feeling out this Ugly Stik model is well worth it. Almost everyone has used a rod from Ugly Stik at one point in their life so why not do a hands-on comparison and feel the evolution of the brand?

What’s Included?

Here’s what you should expect to see when you unbox the GX2:

  • EVA grips
  • Stainless steel one-piece Ugly Tuff guides
  • EVA handle
  • Lure weights
  • Clear tip

Overview of features

The lightweight design makes it a good choice for a variety of users. Kids can start learning using the Ugly Stik GX2. Seasoned fishermen can also use the GX2 and take advantage of its graphite and fiberglass construction to reduce fatigue on long fishing expeditions.

This particular blend of materials also sees an increase in performance over previous Ugly Stik models, especially when it comes to finesse fishing. It’s not the best rod on the market but it is affordable and durable which gives it great value for the money. If you also pair it with a high quality reel, like the Shimano Nasci NASC3000HFGB, you might have yourself a great combo.

The stainless steel rod guides don’t come in multiple pieces like most rods. The GX2 comes with one-piece Ugly Tuff guides, which is a perfect choice to improve the strength. At the same time, they are designed to not limit the casting distance while also being compatible with fluorocarbon, monofilament and braided lines.

The rod that we used for this review is 7 feet long, but you can order it in different weight and length combinations (although it should be noted that it isn’t a “mini” rod. If you’re looking for something small and collapsible, check out our recommendation for a traveling fishing rod here). This particular GX2 model is the 7-feet medium-heavy one that has a great deal of potential in fresh water applications. Due to the lightweight materials used, this rod is equally suitable for novice and experienced fishermen.

What’s funny about the GX2 is that the design is in no way representative of an ugly stick. The cool black finish with red trims gives it a very sporty look. Ugly Stik is not known for making the most impressive fishing rods, at least from an aesthetics standpoint, but this one sure combines build quality with a very modern look.

How to Fish With the Ugly Stik

The good news about the Ugly Stik GX2 is that if you’re a clumsy person you don’t have to worry about breaking the rod. There are few fishing rods as durable as the GX2. Ugly Stik has maintained a high durability rating for decades and they don’t look like they’ll ever tarnish the legacy.

The GX2 doesn’t come with a stock reel. Some may consider this a disadvantage. On the other hand, you are free to install a reel by your favorite brand. Depending on the weight and length of the GX2 you pick, Shimano has some excellent budget reels that can accompany the not so ugly stick.


GX2’s are great options for both beginner and expert fishermen. The rods do you justice in freshwater, saltwater and finesse fishing applications. However, maybe there’s something you simply don’t like about the build or the brand.

If that is the case, the G Loomis E6X rods might be a more appealing alternative. They have a more traditional looking design, but they do come at a significantly higher price tag. Aluminum guides, cork handles, carbon fiber rod blank; the G Loomis E6X is packed with technology and comes in a variety of sizes for both spinning and casting rods.


The Ugly Stik GX2 is an amazing budget-friendly fishing rod that comes in a variety of casting and spinning models. This 7-foot version is easy to handle and once paired with a high quality reel, might just become your go-to rod for freshwater fishing. Even better is that it looks awesome, almost nothing like a classic fishing rod, certainly not one made by Ugly Stik when you were younger.

The high durability is something that stood the test of time with Ugly Stik. The company puts in as much attention to detail as it did 40 years ago. If you’re still not convinced about the durability of Ugly Stik products in the modern age of fishing, check out this stress test on a GX2.

p.s. Not convinced the Ugly Stik is for you? Check out our other fishing rod recommendations here