Ugly Stik GX2 vs Elite: Which is The Best Rod?

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Both the Ugly Stik Elite and the Ugly Stik GX2 are quality rods that are offered at fair prices – and with reliable guarantees. 

You’ll find the durability and responsiveness are great on both – but if you’re looking for a rod that’s slightly more comfortable, the Elite may be your best bet. 

When you’re looking at fishing rods, in particular, it’s helpful to choose one that meets your standards and that will last for many years to come. 

You are probably looking for a rod that is lightweight and sensitive – yet also durable and effective. Two of the most popular fishing rod choices are the Ugly Stik Elite and the GX2.

Both are made by Shakespeare, a well-established brand in fishing. But which one is right for you?

In this article, I’ll walk you through the main differences between the Ugly Stik GX2 vs the Elite fishing rod by Shakespeare. 

Last update on 2024-05-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The History of the Rods

Both the GX2 and the Elite are made by Shakespeare, one of the most well-known brands when it comes to outdoor gear. 

The Ugly Stik is one of the company’s oldest models of fishing rods, having been around since 1976. The Ugly Stik GX2, however, was only introduced in 2013. 

The GX2 has the superb reputation of the original Ugly Stik line, but it is made out of substantially more graphite. Not only is it more sensitive than a traditional Ugly Stik, but it’s also more lightweight.

The Elite is also a popular fishing rod, but it’s not quite as popular as the GX2 (which has more than 1,000 additional customer reviews to showcase its superiority). 

However, it’s important to note that it contains 35% more graphite than the GX2, making it even more lightweight and just as durable.

Ugly Stik GX2: Review

What Is It? 

The Ugly Stik GX2, manufactured by Shakespeare, is made out of fiberglass and graphite and has a sleek matte-black finish. 

It also has a balance point that is shifted back to the butt-end of the rod, giving you more leverage per cast. It is designed with a stylish finish and has a classic diamond winding pattern of red and silver. 

The rod looks sporty and professional, with a slim handle that tapers along the rod’s length. It’s not quite as bulky looking as earlier Ugly Stik models. 

Furthermore, the exclusive UglyTech technology features fiberglass combined with high-modulus graphite, both of which join in the new blank over reel seat style of design. 

This adds strength and is perfect for anglers who are a little less than perfectly coordinated! 

Superior Guides

The guides of this rod in particular win major points. It has guides that are redesigned into single-piece stamped stainless steel. 

This adds durability without compromising the weight and performance of the rod. It is lightweight and easier to cast than former Ugly Stik models. 

The older Ugly Stik rods had guides that were tough, but not this tough. They consisted of pop-out ceramic inserts that could be broken a lot easier than the upgraded version of these new rods. 

You can use carbon, monofilament, and braided lines with these guides, another selling point of the rod. 

Lets You Fish Like a Pro

This rod, as mentioned earlier, is a hybrid of fiberglass and graphite. This blend of materials gives you unparalleled sensitivity without interfering with your casting distance. 

It feels much more smooth than other kinds of Ugly Sticks you may have used in the past. 

The reel seat design has two locking options – there is a conventional locking system and a twist-lock design. 

Both will keep your reel secure – it’s simply a matter of which style works best for your comfort level. 


The Ugly Stik GX2 even comes in multiple lengths, power ratings, and weights to help you meet your needs. 

The lengths are variable, with six models dedicated to female anglers alone. You will also be able to choose between a one- and two-piece blank, depending on your needs. 

Other Features of The Ugly Stik GX2

The Ugly Stik GX2 has a strong backbone – but it’s also backed by an extensive seven-year warranty from Shakespeare. 

Plus, it’s corrosion-resistant, even after years of use in saltwater. 

The eyelets do occasionally start to corrode after multiple years of use, but if you are good about wiping them clean after each use, you shouldn’t have any problems.


The Ugly Stik GX2 has minimal complaints. However, one of the most common has to do with the handle. Some reviewers aren’t fond of the foam handle with which the GX2 is equipped. 

Nonetheless, the foam handle is still made out of EVA material, which is easy to clean and relatively sturdy in wet weather. 

In fact, some people prefer foam, citing its durability and longevity as a desired feature over other potential materials, like cork. 

Therefore, this feature of the Ugly Stik GX2 might not necessarily be a dealbreaker for you. 

Ugly Stik 6’ GX2 Spinning Rod, Three Piece Spinning Rod, 6-15lb Line Rating, Medium Rod Power, Moderate Fast Action, 1/8-5/8 oz. Lure Rating
  • UGLY STIK 6’ GX2 SPINNING ROD: The next-gen Ugly Stik, featuring better balance and improved components. From the makers of the #1 rod series in the world.
  • 6-15LB LINE RATING, MEDIUM POWER, MODERATE FAST ACTION: Built tough to stand up to what's next. Lure rating of 1/8-5/8 oz. Three-piece fishing rod features Ugly Stik Clear Tip design for strength and sensitivity.
  • DURABLE CONSTRUCTION: Constructed from graphite and fiberglass for a lighter weight rod, while maintaining legendary toughness and strength. Ugly Stik Fishing Rods are covered by a 7-year warranty you won't find anywhere else.
  • 6 DURABLE GUIDES: Ugly Tuff one-piece stainless steel guides provide excellent corrosion resistance and durability and eliminate insert pop-outs during rough treatment.

Last update on 2024-05-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Ugly Stik Elite: Review

What Is It? 

An equally iconic fishing rod, the Ugly Stik Elite is designed for anglers of all ages and experience levels. It’s designed to be durable and reliable and is tested for ease of use and quality. 

This rod is an upgrade from earlier models, designed specifically to be lightweight. It maintains the toughness of Ugly Stik while shedding a bit of weight and adding a few other premium features. 

High-Quality Guides

This rod has Ugly Tuff one-piece guides made out of stainless steel. Plus, since the rod has a Clear Tip design, you’ll be able to sense even the tiniest bites. 

Durable Construction

Made out of fiberglass and graphite, this rod is virtually indestructible. It is highly sensitive and well-balanced yet still delivers the strength and resiliency you need. 

It has blank style reel seats along with hoods of cushioned stainless steel. Your reel will stay locked in position and you’ll have increased contact with the blank. 


The Ugly Stik Elite is available in several sizes and with various options. You can buy it as a one or two-piece design. 

It is available in lengths of 6’6” and 7’, with weights including medium, medium-heavy, and ultra-light. 

Regardless of the length you choose, you’ll find that this rod is exceptionally easy to carry around and move. It can meet the needs of just about any angler and is a great value for your money.

Other Features

The defining difference between the Ugly Stik GX2 vs the Elite – and one that makes a world of difference for many anglers – is that this rod has full cork grips. 

The handle is incredibly comfortable to use, as it adds friction and makes the rod easier to handle in wet weather. 

The premium etched cork handles are really something to look at – you’ll love how stylish this rod looks while still being lightweight (it weighs less than 7.2 oz overall). 

It also has a newly designed skeleton reel seat. It throws heavy lures and spoons and lets you feel most bites with ease. 


When it comes to customer complaints of the Ugly Stik Elite, you won’t find many worth mentioning. 

There are some reviewers who dislike the short front grip. Others dislike the screw handle that keeps your reel in place, but both of these are merely a matter of preference. 

There are a few other reviewers who complain that the rod is occasionally shipped with the guides slightly off-center from the reel seat. 

This is not usually enough to affect your casting, but can still be frustrating to deal with. 

Last update on 2024-05-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Comparing the Ugly Stik GX2 and the Ugly Stik Elite

The Graphite Advantage

Graphite construction is the major selling point of the Ugly Stik GX2 and the Elite alike. Both rods are made out of a combination between fiberglass and graphite. 

Although the GX2 has more graphite than the original Ugly Stik, the Elite has even more graphite than the GX2. 

Despite being durable, both rods are extremely sensitive, too. You’ll feel every last nibble with either rod. Both have glass tips at the end.

Both rods are built to be incredibly tough while also offering you the flexibility you need to land fish. 

They are both responsive and durable, though the Elite is slightly more so as it has more graphite than the GX2. 

Handle Quality 

Although both rods are made out of graphite, one of the biggest differences between the Ugly Stik GX2 and the Elite is the handle. 

While the GX2 has a foam handle (a generic feature), the Elite’s handle is made out of beautiful and ergonomic cork – and it’s engraved. 

The Elite is also equipped with a secondary cork handle that gives you a second gripping point just above the reel seat. 

There’s nothing wrong with a foam handle on a fishing rod, but unfortunately, it tends to wear out faster. 

The Elite offers a more comfortable grip that is the ideal home when you’re trying to cast for power and leverage while fighting a fish. 

It’s functional, comfortable, and has a premium look, too. There are some people who might prefer the sleek black finish found on the Ugly Stik GX2. 

However, the cork handle is just more functional. It gives you a better grip, making it easier to use in wet or rainy weather, and it isn’t bad to look at, either. 


As mentioned earlier, neither the Ugly Stik GX2 nor the Elite are known to be prone to breakage. 

Of course, you’ll find reviewers mention that this does happen from time to time – although usually, it’s due to some error on the part of the user (such as dropping it). 

You can expect both rods to last quite some time. To underscore their durability, Shakespeare has added a seven-year guarantee to both rods. 

That’s a selling point that’s unusual to find in any fishing rod, but particularly in those that cost less than $50. 


Both the Ugly Stik GX2 and the Elite are equipped with one-piece stainless steel guides. These run up and down the entire rod and are guaranteed not to corrode or break on you.


Both rods have good levels of medium and fast action. You’ll want to select the action that best suits your needs and fishing style but you shouldn’t have a problem with either. 

Size and Reel Fit 

There are several variations of each style of rod available. You can find both the Ugly Stik Elite and the GX2 in sizes ranging from five to seven feet. 

The company also makes an equally strong yet somewhat more lightweight “ladies model” too. This can also be purchased in several lengths and weights. 

You’ll be able to find the Shakespeare rod that fits any size reel. The only occasional exception is if you have a super large saltwater reel. 

In that case, you may want to pay a visit to an in-person store, where you’ll be able to physically check your reel to make sure it fits one of the rods. 


Although you can find the Ugly Stik GX2 and the Elite at most fishing stores and sporting goods stores, they can also be purchased online. 

Some come with free shipping, but note that if you buy online, your rod will also usually be packaged in a single solid tube that shields it from scratches or other damages. 

Ugly Stik Elite vs Ugly Stik GX2 – Which is Best?

Both the Ugly Stik Elite and the Ugly Stik GX2 are high-quality rods that are offered at fair prices – and with reliable guarantees. 

You’ll find the durability and responsiveness are up to par on both – but if you’re looking for a rod that’s slightly more comfortable, the Elite may be your best bet. 

That cork handle really just can’t be beat!

Otherwise, both rods are sure to give you what you’re looking for, so rest assured that either is a smart pick.

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Sean Ward

Hey there, my name is Sean – OnTrack Fishing is my site. I’m based in the UK yet I’ve been fortunate enough to catch bass in the States, barramundi in Australia, trout here at home and carp on the Danube delta. If I’m not fishing, or talking about fishing, then….I’m probably asleep.

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