Comparing Ugly Stik Elite vs. GX2: Which One Should You Choose?

Maya Brown

August 3, 2023

Reels and Rods

Looking for the perfect rod to take on your next fishing adventure but can’t seem to make up your mind? Ugly Stik Elite vs. GX2 – these two rods have been at the forefront of anglers’ arsenals for years, providing trusted performance again and again. With so many similar features, it can be tricky to figure out which one is best suited for your needs – so let’s dive into a detailed comparison to see which one comes out on top.

From the Ugly Tech graphite and fiberglass blend to fast action, these rods have a lot in common. After all, they’re manufactured by the same company, the Shakespeare Fishing Tackle. However, their differences will help you make the final choice – if you’re a fan of finesse techniques, the Elite might be a better choice. Still, if you are used to heavier applications and more challenging conditions, the GX2 is the way to go.

The Shakespeare Fishing Tackle Has Been a Staple of the Industry for Over a Century

No matter what your preferred fishing technique is, chances are you’ve heard about the renowned Shakespeare brand or at least seen some of their Ugly Stik fishing rods in action. That’s because this manufacturer has been a household name in the industry for over a century, with a rich heritage dating all the way back to 1897.

The Ugly Stik Series Is One of Shakespeare’s Most Iconic Products

This brand has consistently delivered high-quality equipment and accessories throughout its long history. By far, their best addition to the sport is the Ugly Stik series of fishing rods, which has gained a loyal following among anglers worldwide.

These rods are known for their exceptional durability, making them ideal for tackling tough conditions and targeting feisty saltwater fish. Anglers appreciate the Ugly Stik’s combination of strength, sensitivity, and affordability, which makes it a go-to choice for both beginner anglers and experienced fishermen.

Three men fishing in nature
Ugly Stik is a well-known name among anglers of all experience levels

Both Rods Are Impressive Examples of Spinning Rods

Spinning rods are probably the most widely used type of fishing rods, thanks to their versatility and ease of use. With a spinning reel mounted underneath the blank, these rods allow for smooth and efficient casting across various conditions and techniques.

Whether you’re casting lightweight lures or homemade bait, spinning rods excel at providing accurate and long-distance casts. They are also known for their sensitivity, enabling anglers to detect even the subtlest of movements underwater. With a vast array of options available on the market, anglers can find the perfect rod to match their angling style and target fish species. So, let’s get down to it and see which of these rods is right for you.

Person holding a spinning reel
Spinning rods are a popular choice due to their versatility

Ugly Stik Elite vs. GX2 – A Brief Overview of the Most Important Specifications

Before I get into a more detailed comparison of the Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Rod and the Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Fishing Rod, let’s take a closer look at their main specifications:

Aspect Ugly Stik Elite Ugly Stik GX2
Blank Construction Ugly Tech blend Ugly Tech blend
Length 4’6”, 5′, 5’6”, 6′, 6’6”, 7′, 7’6” 4’9”, 5′, 5’6”, 6′, 6’6”, 7′, 9′
Action Fast Fast
Power Ultra-light, light, medium-light, medium, medium-heavy Ultra-light, light, medium, medium-heavy, heavy
Number of Pieces 1, 2 1, 2, 3, 4
Price $50 $40

Both Blank Are Crafted With Innovative Ugly Tech Composite Material

Let’s start off with a common feature between these fishing rods – the fact that both are constructed using the innovative Ugly Tech composite technology. Seamlessly blending graphite and fiberglass, these blanks strike the perfect balance between strength and lightweight design by mixing the best of both worlds.

While graphite alone is known for its exceptionally lightweight, it can be prone to brittleness, and that’s where fiberglass comes in, enhancing the durability of the blank. That’s why Shakespeare’s ingenious technology merges these two materials together, creating blanks that are both robust and lightweight. But if ultra-light fishing applications are your top priority, the better choice would be the Elite series, as it boasts 35% more graphite content.

The GX2 Offers More Piece Configurations

The GX2 spinning lineup offers 1, 2, 3, or 4-piece configurations, providing anglers with versatile choices when it comes to transporting and storing away their gear. On the other hand, the Ugly Stik Elite offers a limited lineup of only 1 or 2-piece options, which might not be the most convenient for fishermen on the go.

fisherman catching fish during the sunrise
High-quality blank ensures a good balance between strength and sensibility

Ugly Stik GX2 vs. Elite – Length, Power, Action

When you’re in the market for a new fishing rod, the whole endeavor can be exciting but also overwhelming, as numerous aspects must be considered. From length and power to action and material, each factor plays a crucial role in determining the rod’s performance. Because of that, this part of the comparison will probably give you some valuable insight for determining the right fit for you out of these two Shakespeare rods. Here’s a head-to-head comparison of these aspects:


The length of a fishing rod is a crucial factor that influences casting distance, control, and overall experience. The Elite spinning series offers a pretty good range, spanning from 4’6” to 7’6” in length, making it suitable for various applications.

However, if you’re looking for extended casting distance and better line control, the GX2 offers a wider range, with length options spanning from 4’9” to 9”. Ultimately, your best choice depends on factors such as your preferred technique, target fish species, and the conditions you usually cast in.


The power, often referred to as the rod’s backbone, determines its strength and ability to handle different fish sizes and fighting scenarios. Regarding these two particular rods, the difference between available power options is pretty minor. Both of them come in ultra-light, light, medium, and medium-heavy options, while Elite offers additional medium-light power, and GX2 offers heavy power.

So, if you’re looking for a rod designed for delicate and finesse techniques such as fly fishing or a good balance between sensitivity and strength, both of these rods will do just fine. However, suppose you need a great backbone for handling larger saltwater and freshwater species. In that case, a heavy-power GX2 is your better choice, as it will be able to perform in more challenging conditions.


Both the GX2 and Elite fishing rods share the characteristic of having fast action, meaning they bend primarily towards the tip, allowing for quick responsiveness and sensitivity. This action type enables anglers to detect even the slightest nibbles and achieve precise fish hook sets.

The fast action also facilitates powerful casts and enhances accuracy, making it ideal for various techniques, such as casting lures or working with live bait. So, with either of these spinning rods, you can expect a fast-action piece of equipment that offers excellent performance and enhances your overall experience.

Reels, Guides, Handles – The Keys to a Great Fishing Setup

As spinning rods, it’s clear that these pieces of equipment are designed to be used with spinning reels specifically. This type of reel is characterized by its open-faced design, with the spool mounted perpendicular to the rod. It features a fixed or stationary spool, which allows for smooth fishing line release during casting and retrieval.

The user-friendly nature of spinning reels makes them a great choice for beginners, as they are relatively easy to handle and require minimal skill to operate. They also provide excellent line management, reducing the chances of tangling or backlash. With their smooth drag systems, anglers can easily adjust the tension to match the fish’s fighting strength.

When in Doubt – Choose a Combo

You can add basically any type of spinning reel to the mix, such as the Okuma Ceymar or the Daiwa BG 4000. But if you find the mix and matching a little bit overwhelming, you can always purchase a ready-to-go combo.

Luckily, both of these rods have excellent offers, so you can choose the Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Combo or the Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Reel and Fishing Rod Combo, according to your preferences.

Both Rods Feature Stainless Steel Guides

Both the GX2 and Elite rods are equipped with stainless steel guides, which have great corrosion-resistant properties, making them ideal for ensuring durability and performance. Moreover, these guides effectively reduce friction and allow the line to flow smoothly during casting and retrieval, resulting in longer and more accurate casts.

Cork Handles or Eva Grips – Traditional Feel or Enhanced Comfortability

When it comes to handles, there is a slight difference between the two rods. The Elite is equipped with EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate) handles that provide excellent grip even when wet. This durable and lightweight material also offers cushioning and shock absorption, reducing fatigue even during those long sessions that turn into nighttime fishing excursions.

On the other hand, the GX2 features cork grip handles, which provide a traditional and natural feel, as well as good grip and sensitivity. It has moisture-wicking properties and remains comfortable to hold, even in hot or humid conditions. So, it all comes down to your personal preferences.

Summer fishing on the river in the early morning. Fishing background.
It’s important to have a comfortable hold and high-quality inserts on your rod

Both Are Budget-Friendly Options With Exceptional Warranty Coverage

Both the GX2 and Elite spinning rods are known for their budget-friendly prices, making them accessible choices for anglers and common backup options. While the Elite series is slightly pricier, with a difference of around $10, it still offers great value for the features it provides.

What adds to their appeal is definitely the excellent 7-year warranty offered for both series, providing peace of mind and assurance of quality. The warranty ensures that any manufacturing defects or faults will be addressed, so you can fish with confidence.

It All Comes Down to Your Personal Preferences

So, to conclude, when it comes to choosing between these exceptional spinning rods, it largely depends on what type of fishing you plan on doing. If you’re looking for a lightweight, sensitive rod that allows for casting accuracy with finesse techniques, then go for the Ugly Stik Elite. On the other hand, if your style requires heavier spinners or jigs, then go for the GX2. Ultimately, as fishermen, we all have different preferences and needs when it comes to gear, so choose wisely, and you’ll find your perfect match.