The Beauty of the Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Combo

   08.05.15

Like the fish they catch, some fishing rods take on a legendary status. In my family, Ugly Stik (not Ugly Stick) occupies that spot. More fish have been caught by members of my family using an Ugly Stik than any other brand—and we’ve caught a lot of fish.

My family’s long history with Ugly Stik goes all the way back to summers at my uncle’s house in Alaska. His son and I would spend countless hours using an Ugly Stik rod and a Mitchell reel to catch sockeye salmon. During one long but fun day, we each caught and released in excess of 70 salmon in the eight- to 12-pound range.

Now jump ahead to today. I’ve had the opportunity to test many different fishing poles, and many of them were outstanding fishing poles—but none were ever quite as good as my Ugly Stiks. When I had the chance to test out the new Ugly Stik Elite combo, I jumped at it.

Here are its specs:

  • Rod length: 6 feet
  • Power: Medium
  • Pieces: 2
  • Reel bearings: 5
  • Line capacity: 190/4 140/6 110/8
  • Line rating: 6-14lb
  • Lure weight: 1/4-5/8 oz.

The original Ugly Stik fishing poles are very limber and flexible, offering up a virtually indestructible, sensitive fishing rod. That came at a cost, however, with weight. While the original is still one of the greatest rods available, the new Ugly Stik Elite takes things to a new level. Shakespeare uses 35 percent more graphite in the Elite, which reduces weight but retains the toughness that the company’s reputation was built on. And yes, they kept the Clear Tip, a standard feature of all Ugly Stik rods.

Shakespeare uses premium cork for the grip on the new Ugly Stik Elite rods. It has a great feel and looks pretty sharp too.
Shakespeare uses premium cork for the grip on the new Ugly Stik Elite rods. It has a great feel and looks pretty sharp too.

I’ve been using a six-foot, medium combo. The rod is paired with a Shakespeare reel that compliments the rod very nicely. That’s the best part of buying a combo—you know the rod and reel will work well together. I spooled the reel with 10-pound Berkley Fireline. I’ve used this line quite a bit on other rods and for my plans for this fishing combo, it was the perfect choice.

During the summer months, I never go anywhere without at least one rod and reel in the vehicle and a small, well-equipped tackle box. Far too many times I’ve been somewhere and had a few moments to kill and thought, “I wish I had a fishing pole with me.” The Ugly Stik Elite combo is perfect for this. It’s the perfect size and strength to do just about every kind of fishing in my home state of Michigan. It’s sensitive enough for trout fishing or catching panfish in a pond by the side of the road. It’s also strong enough to tackle bass, pike, and more, should the opportunity arise.

I have one gripe about the combo, but it’s not a major one. Being that it is a two-piece, which is essential for my plans for the outfit, I was a bit confused by where the breakdown is. When you pull the two halves of the rod apart, all of the stainless steel guides are on one end, while only the reel is on the other. This basically means that you have to cut your line off and reel in all of the line, and rethread it every time you take the rod down. I generally do that anyway as it reduces the risk of nicking the line in transport, but for quick trips, it can be a pain.

I’ve been fishing the combo for a few months now. While the fishing has been slow, as the water is warming very slowly this year, the rod is working flawlessly. I caught and released several decent bass and a couple of nice pre-spawn crappie as well as a short pike that thought it was a 20-pounder. The fish I was most impressed by, and this might make you laugh, was a runt bluegill that my wife caught while using the Ugly Stik.

Thirty-five percent more graphite than past Stiks makes the new Ugly Stik Elite lighter than previous offerings, while still retaining legendary Ugly Stik strength.
Thirty-five percent more graphite than past Stiks makes the new Ugly Stik Elite lighter than previous offerings, while still retaining legendary Ugly Stik strength.

We were doing a little shore fishing with the kids, mostly just to get outdoors and have a little fun. Conditions weren’t great, either. It was a little windy and cold. The barometric pressure told me we weren’t going to catch much, if anything at all. In addition to fishing, my wife was also trying to help our four-year-old daughter fish. To say she was distracted is an understatement. When the little bluegill hit her worm, she knew it because she felt the first little bumps. It kind of caught her by surprise as she wasn’t really expecting the rod to be that sensitive.

That’s the beauty of an Ugly Stik, though. It can work to catch the little fish, and have the backbone to bring in the big lunkers. At $69.95 retail, the combo is a bargain and every angler, from the seasoned pro to the beginner, should have an Ugly Stik handy for a fishing adventure.

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