For many years, an angler could walk into any major outdoor retailer or discount mart with $29.95 in his pocket and walk out with one of the most widely recognized and durable fishing rods on the market. Now a pending price increase is going to push that price up to $39.95, but I think fans of Shakespeare’s Ugly Stik are going to like what they get for that extra 10-spot.
It is called the Ugly Stik GX2, and though you easily will recognize the signature clear tip and diamond winding pattern located just above the handle, it won’t take long to see or feel that this isn’t your father’s Ugly Stik.
One of the first things you will notice about the GX2 is its mat-black finish, a definitive change from the Ugly Stik’s traditional glossy appearance. This is created in part by the addition of what Josh Silva, marketing manager for Shakespeare, called “a tiny bit of graphite” to the fiberglass rod blank. In addition to changing the rod’s appearance, the graphite reduced the Ugly Stik’s weight enough to notice, especially when holding a traditional version in one hand and the GX2 in the other.
Shakespeare also took steps to improve the Ugly Stik’s handling by shifting its balance point toward the butt end of the rod. This weight reduction and detectable balance shift “gives you a lighter weight feel,” Silva said. “You will be able to work the rod a lot longer during the day and feel less fatigued.”
Another change can be seen in the line guides. Gone are the two-piece guides with a ceramic insert. They have been replaced with one-piece stainless steel guides that Silva described as “extremely tough, extremely durable. They’re going to stand up to anything you are going to throw at it.” Shakespeare has labeled them Ugly Tuff.
To back that claim, Silva dropped a weight on both the traditional guide with a ceramic insert and the new stainless steel guide. The result was impressive, and it appears the stainless steel guides can take a pounding while the traditional guides could crumble under pressure.
Cosmetic changes to the Ugly Stik include a skeleton reel seat, red and silver accents and an Ugly Stik logo etched into the EVA grip.
Introduced at the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades show two weeks ago, the GX2 is to hit stores in mid-September and will come in a variety of configurations. Included on the list of offerings are 15 casting models, 20 spinning rods, three pack options and six models for the ladies. The GX2 also will be available in combo packages that will include a spinning reel with an aluminum spool and four-bearing system. For the combo, you can expect to pay another $10, bringing the total price to just less than $50.
A youth version of the GX2 combo was crowned as Best of Show in the Kid’s Tackle category. The 5-foot-6-inch rod comes with a split-grip design and is designed for the more serious youth angler in that 8-year-old and beyond category. These should be available in November. You can learn more about the GX2 at uglystik.com.
For those with more expensive taste and a love for heavy swimbaits or umbrella rigs, G. Loomis, Inc. introduced the new NRX Umbrella Rig, but that is a story for next time.
Freelance writer Doug Nielsen is a conservation educator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. His “In the Outdoors” column, published Thursday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, is not affiliated with or endorsed by the NDOW. Any opinions he states in his column are his own. He can be reached at email@example.com.