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Are Ugly Stiks Good Rods? Our Investigation

Ugly Stik is a company best known for its sturdy and value-for-money fishing rods. It is a subsidiary of Shakespeare, which is a fish equipment retail company. Ugly Stik rods have been in the market since 1976 and are a fan favorite. But are Ugly Stiks good rods? The following review will attempt to find out.

What Are Ugly Stiks?

To begin with, let’s get into what exactly sets an Ugly Stik fishing rod apart from a regular fishing rod. These rods were the first to feature a clear tip and were made using what has come to be known as the Howald Process of construction. 

This process of construction allows the fishing rod to be practically unbreakable. The process is named after its inventor, Dr. Arthur Howald and Shakespeare’s Ugly Stik rods are famously known to be the first of their kind to get the Howald Process right.

What Is the Howald Process?

The Howald Process includes a rod construction that features a spiral of fibers in the center, which are surrounded by a layer of parallel fibers. This reinforced ring of fibers is held together from the outside by polyester resin. The spiral formation allows the rod to be flexible and bend easily, while the polyester resin ensures that the rod does not break.

The material used in the rod may have changed since the first Ugly Stik rod was launched in 1976, but the company still sticks by the Howald Process.

Author Note: More recently, the company has also started using graphite fibers which are able to provide even greater strength to the rod while making it more lightweight. 

The main framework or blanks for the rods are typically constructed in an autoclave, not unlike the technology that is used in aerospace industries.

The idea is to combine the resin and the fibers in a secure vacuum bag, which is able to strengthen the combination while also removing all the air, and with it, any moisture. The least amount of resin required to hold the fiber means the rod in itself is strong and durable.

What Are Ugly Stik Rods Best For?

Man holding fly rod

By the company’s own admission, these rods have been made for “those who like to fish ugly”. Essentially, if you are out in the waters to find a tough catch and do not mind getting your hands a little dirty to get the best catch, Ugly Stik fishing rods are for you.

These are extremely durable rods that will be able to withstand the toughest fight put up by a big fish.

These rods bend easily but you do not have to worry about the rod breaking if the catch is aggressive and is making it difficult for you to control it. 

Author Note: If you are fishing only for recreation and not professionally, all you need to rely on is a good sturdy fishing rod that gets the job done. If you fish professionally in tournaments, you may want to invest in a lighter rod.

In the end, however, what matters is not what rod you are using, but how you are using it. Even if you get a high-end fishing rod but your technique is off, you will not be able to catch any fish.

Benefits of Ugly Stik Rods

Since you are wondering are Ugly Stiks good rods, the following are some of their best advantages:

  • Price: For starters, the rods come at some of the most attractive price points in the market. It is difficult to match the price of an Ugly Stik rod as this is a legacy company that for long has been in the business of creating unbreakable fishing rods that provide incredible value for money.
  • Flexibility: The fiber construction of the rods allows them to be extremely flexible. If you tried, you could perhaps bend the rod into a circle! Flexibility is especially important if you are hoping to get a big catch. If a large fish fights hard enough against a hook, a stiff fishing rod will break under the pressure. But an Ugly Stik rod will not.
  • Options: Since the company has been in business for very long, there are several product ranges it has been able to roll out. From Ugly Stik Elite Casting Rod to Ugly Stik Catfish Special Spinning Rod, you can pick out a range of products when you visit the Ugly Stik website. Depending on the region you are in and the type of fishing you are interested in, you will be able to find something that works for you.
  • Durable: The best thing about an Ugly Stik rod is that a single rod can last you a very long time. Since these rods have an incredibly well-reinforced construction, they are practically impossible to break. There is very little maintenance that the rod will require once you have bought it.

Drawbacks of Ugly Stik Rods

Fishing on the lake

If you have to ask “are Ugly Stiks good rods?”, then you have probably heard some feedback regarding these rods. The following are possible drawbacks of Ugly Stik rods:

  • Less Sensitive: While Ugly Stiks are extremely durable and strong rods, there has been some complaint over the years about their lack of sensitivity. At times, anglers have complained that they have had trouble detecting a bite. Even the lightest Ugly Stik rod may be heavier than some of the other options in the market.
  • Weight: The weight of the rods may also cause greater fatigue while fishing. If you have a long day of fishing planned, holding a heavier fishing rod may eventually cause you to tire out. This is something Ugly Stik fishing rods may be guilty of. 


The following are some of the frequently asked questions in relation to “are Ugly Stiks good rods?”.

Q. Why Are They Called ‘Ugly’?

The company goes by this name simply because the first rods were regarded as “ugly”. They were strong and durable rods, but the appearance was not necessarily pleasing to the eye. Now, of course, the look of the rods has come a long way and they look little like their initial prototype, which was not even pigmented! 

Q. Are Ugly Stiks Unbreakable?

No matter what the season or how big or strong the catch is, an Ugly Stik fishing rod is known for being able to withstand the toughest of situations. This rod has been designed for people who fish even in difficult weather conditions, choppy waters or are even out in the waters fishing for massive catches like the Pacific halibut! The rod is one of the toughest in the market and yes, it is practically unbreakable.

Q. Is the Ugly Stik GX2 a Good Rod?

The Ugly Stik GX2 is certainly a rod that will stand the test of time. This is an extremely tough and durable rod that offers more strength than rods that are twice or thrice its price. This rod is at an incredibly attractive price point and offers great value for money.

Q. Are Reels More Important Than Rods?

If you ask a seasoned angler, they will always tell you to spend more time looking for the perfect rod as opposed to a decent reel. The rod is where your whole fishing apparatus will get the strength to reel a big fish in. The rod is what will allow you to cast the reel in the first place. So if you have to make a choice between the two due to budgetary restraints, pick a better rod over a better reel.

Q. Can You Put Any Reel to Any Rod?

No, each rod has a designated reel and vice versa. If you use a heavy saltwater reel with a lightweight wooden fishing rod, then there will be no match between the two. Even if you are lucky enough to hook something, there are chances of injuries because the reel itself is a lot heavier than the rod. So, always pick a reel that matches your rod.

Q. What’s the Difference between a Baitcaster and Spinning Rod?

The main difference between a baitcaster and a spinning rod is essentially the type of reels that is supposed to be used along with them. A baitcaster rod needs a baitcasting reel that will allow you to cast a line accurately and also withstand the pressure of a large catch that may be fighting a lot. A spinning rod, on the other hand, allows you to cast wider and also cast lighter lures, though it does not have as much strength.

Parting Thoughts

Fishing on the lake at sunset

Ugly Stik rods may have some drawbacks, especially if you are a professional angler looking for a high-end rod. But for most people, these are strong, durable fishing rods that provide excellent value for money.

An Ugly Stik rod will last you for years and is a perfectly good choice for someone looking to fish recreationally and has decent technique.

We hope you enjoyed this article on ‘Are Ugly Stiks Good Rods?’ and found it useful for when you are in the market looking for a good, well-priced and durable fishing rod.

Happy Hunting!


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