Ugly Stik GX2 Vs Elite Rods – Which One Should You Buy?

Ugly Stik GMX vs Elite Feature Image

If you ask any angler what fishing rod they would recommend for a beginner, half of them will mention the Ugly Stik line. For decades, the Ugly Stik has been the most popular fishing rod choice for many anglers. The Ugly Stik offers exceptional strength through its virtually indestructible blank construction and strong backbone. 

Ugly Stik fishing rods have been made in the United States since 1976 by the Shakespeare company. There have been many upgrades and changes since the years of the traditional Ugly Stik, but you can rest assured knowing that the new Ugly Stik GX2 and Ugly Stik Elite rods are still made with the same features that earlier Ugly Stik models had, including the clear tip design and the two colored classic diamond winding pattern above the reel seat.

The first Ugly Stik fishing rod was made with a fiberglass core that was wrapped in polyester resin with fiberglass thread or fibers. The original had metal handles that later evolved to become the familiar cork handle so many anglers love. Because they were so unattractive and rough-looking, the maker called them ugly sticks. The name stuck and soon anglers were asking for the ugly stick fishing rod. 

The new and improved Ugly Stik fishing rods are made from a graphite blank wrapped with a graphite and fiberglass polymer. The original two-piece ceramic and steel line guides have been replaced with one-piece smooth stainless guides that are guaranteed not to break. One of the main differences between the older models and the upgraded version is the redistribution of the weight of the rod. More of the weight has been shifted to the butt end, creating a more balanced fishing rod that allows anglers to continue casting for hours during lengthy fishing outings without feeling the physical effects. 

All of the Ugly Stik fishing products are available for purchase at most retailers, fishing stores, and fishing affiliated sites. 

Ugly Stik GX2 vs Elite compared – what are the most important differences?

kayak fishing guy paddling on lake with fishing rods excellent
Ugly Stik GX2 and the Ugly Stik Elite are designed to suit different fishing situations.

Both the Ugly Stik GX2 and the Ugly Stik Elite are available in several models dedicated to specific fishing situations. While there are some variations between the two rods, both offer the Shakespeare patented clear tip for extra sensitivity, a variety of rod lengths, and a variety of power ratings. 

Both rods feature more graphite than the original “ugly sticks” so anglers benefit from a light weight rod that offers more leverage and added responsiveness, but still offers that original bend it into a circle Ugly Stik flexibility.

Blank construction and materials

The Ugly Stik GX2 has the traditional fiberglass blank wrapped with a fiberglass and graphite composite for a lightweight, strong rod. The addition of the graphite in the wrap gives the GX2 a nice charcoal matte finish, a change from the original glossy jet black finish on the traditional Ugly Stik.

The Ugly Stik Elite has a similar bland construction, but includes 35% more graphite and less fiberglass. This creates a fishing pole that is lighter, but still has all the strength of the original. 

Length

Both rods are available in a range of lengths to fit anglers of all ages. 

The GX2 series offers six models ranging in length from 5’6” to 7’6”, and break down into two pieces, perfect for packing in a carry on bag or backpack.

The Elite also comes in different lengths from 4’6” to 7’6”. The shorter length rod is perfect for junior anglers. The lightweight graphite of the elite series makes casting easy for little hands. 

Power

No matter what fish you are chasing, you won’t go wrong with an Ugly Stik fishing rod. Both models are set up for medium to heavy power, but the Elite also offers an Ultra Light option perfect for an afternoon playing with bluegills in the local pond.

Line Rating

Ugly Stik rods are designed to be used with monofilament, braided, or fluorocarbon lines from 2 pound to 20 pound test depending on the specific power and action combination of the rod you choose.

Lure rating

As with line rating, lure weights are determined by the specific combination you purchase, but all light lures work well with Ugly Stix rods.

The GX2 rods recommend lures from 1/32 oz up to 1 oz, depending on which rod you choose. Like all fishing rods, lighter lures are recommended for light and ultralight rods, while you can use heavier lures on medium heavy and heavy power rods. 

The Elite rods are available in 16 different options from the 4’6” Ultralight to the 7’6” medium power, so the same rules apply. Lighter rods need lighter lures and heavier rods can use heavier lures. The recommended range for the Elite series is 1/32 oz up to ⅝ oz. 

Handle Material

The handles differ on the two models and which you choose is more a matter of preference than performance. Both rods perform well, no matter which type of handle you choose.

The GX2 series offers a pistol grip or long and straight style EVA handle with an exposed blank reel seat. The foam handle is comfortable and provides a stable grip when casting. 

The Elite series has the traditional straight cork handle. The cork is designed to give you a secure grip, even when wet. 

Number of pieces/portability

Ugly Stik rods come in one-piece rods or two-piece breakaway lengths with secure spigot joint ferrules. Many different options are available. 

Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Rod
Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Rod
Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Rod
Our Score

The Ugly Stik GX2 spinning rod is strong, balanced, and sensitive. It has all the features that made Ugly Stik rods so popular. The EVA foam handle provides comfort for casting and retrieving all day long. The locking reel seat design is secure without being bulky. 8 or 9 stainless steel one-piece guides improve casting distance and stand up to whatever type of line you load on the reel. The graphite and fiberglass blank is strong enough to handle a big fish without breaking.

  • Inexpensive- a good rod for the price
  • A number of spinning variants available for length, action, and power

Who it suits: This is just a great all-purpose fishing rod. The fast action, a medium-light rod is perfect for casting into brush or cover to draw fish out. The sensitive tip alerts you to even the smallest bite. This rod is suited for beginners and pros alike.

 

Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Rod
Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Rod
Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Rod
Our Score

With the addition of more high modulus graphite, Ugly Stik Elite spinning rod is better balanced, more lightweight, and offers more variants than the GX2. The combined graphite on graphite construction brings the traditional Ugly Stik up a notch or two. Other features of the Elite rod series include an exposed blank graphite twist lock reel seat, the comfortable cork handle, a hook keeper, and Ugly Tuff line guides. Of course, these extra features do come with an extra cost, and you will find that the Ugly Stik elite rods cost about $10-$15 more than the Ugly Stik GX2 rods.

  • 35% more lightweight than the GX2
  • Available in lengths from 4’6”-7’6” and power ratings from ultra light to medium heavy

Who it suits:  This rod is for anglers who want to stay out on the water all day. This light weight of this pole and the comfort of the traditional cork grip lets you concentrate more on casting and catching fish than how tired your arm is getting. Perfect for bass fishing, the elite rod series offers an option for every fishing scenario. Purchase an ultralight, ultrafast for a fun day of jigging and a medium heavy, medium power for pulling frogs through weeds. With a price point of under $50, you can afford more than one of these rods. 
 

Ugly Stik GX2 Casting Rod
Ugly Stik GX2 Casting Rod
Ugly Stik GX2 Casting Rod
Our Score
  • Ugly StikGX2 rods feature Ugly Tech construction with a combination of Graphite and fiberglass to create a strong, yet sensitive rod with better balance for a lighter weight feel
  • Ugly Tuff guides feature new one-piece stainless steel guides to eliminate insert pop outs and can be used with all types of line, including braid
  • Ugly Stik Clear Tip design for extra strength and added sensitivity
  • Durable and lightweight EVA grips
  • Enhanced cosmetics for a more modern look 7 year warranty
Ugly Stik Elite Casting Fishing Rod
Ugly Stik Elite Casting Fishing Rod
Ugly Stik Elite Casting Fishing Rod
Our Score

With 35% more graphite than the GX2, the Elite casting rod is ultra light, durable, and virtually indestructible. Long split cork grip handles enclose a blank exposed hooded reel seat. Double legged, solid stainless guides carry the lure effortlessly to the target and provide line ratings up to 20 # test. The medium light to medium heavy power gives you just the right amount of flexibility and sensitivity to set the hook the first time, every time.

  • Exposed blank locking reel seat design to keep reel secure
  • Much less expensive than comparable rods

Who it suits: When you want to throw accurate casts and quickly retrieve, this rod is what you want. It is lightweight, perfectly balanced to the rod length, and is a less expensive purchase than other high quality casting rods.

Final thoughts on which Ugly Stik fishing rod to buy

No matter which Ugly Stik you choose, you won’t be wrong. The spinning reels have great strength and flexibility to make fishing with live bait and a bobber as much fun as throwing a rubber worm over stumps with a bait caster. 

With such a variety of options for length, power, and action, but the consistent strength and sensitivity Shakespeare Ugly Stiks are known for, there is not a best choice. It is a matter of 

personal preference. You won’t go wrong, as long as you use an “ugly stick”.

Author

  • Rick Wallace is a passionate angler and fly fisher whose work has appeared in fishing publications including FlyLife. He is a regular on fly fishing podcasts and appeared in the international fly fishing film Predator.

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