As every hobbyist and pro knows, fishing is a marathon and not a sprint.
That’s why, when you’re looking for a new rod, you’ll always want to look for something that you know is going to last all day for a fishing session and for years to come.
Shakespeare is a company that has been providing fishermen and women with high-quality equipment for over 100 years.
They’re definitely one of the experts when it comes to making rods that will last a lifetime and still be effective with every cast.
The two rods from their Ugly Stik line that we’re looking at today are two of the best-selling rods at this price point on the market.
If you head to any popular fishing spot in the United States and even in some other countries, you’re bound to find somebody fishing with a GX2 or an Elite rod.
But what exactly is it about these rods that make them so universally popular?
Well, in this article, we’ll be breaking down the key features of these rods that keep them a level above the competition.
We’ll also examine what the differences are between the two and determine which one is best for your needs.
Whether you’re new to fishing and looking for a rod to start out with or if you’re a veteran who wants to add another rod to your arsenal, we’ve got you covered for your next fishing trip!
Ugly Stik GX2 vs Elite Handle Material
The first aspect of these rods we’ll examine is the materials they use for their handle. The most popular materials for a fishing rod (learn about the best swimbait rods here) handles include cork, EVA foam, cord, and wood. With these two rods, we’re looking at one with cork and one with EVA.
Elite: Cork Handle
Cork handles are the more traditional material for a fishing rod handle and, in some ways, the old saying: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is applicable here.
Cork handles are much lighter than EVA and they have a much lower damping capacity. In simpler terms, this means cork handles can transmit the vibrations through the rod better, making it generally easier to hold for long periods of time.
Not to mention, cork is a better material for maintaining residual heat in cool temperatures. That means you won’t have to worry about holding a freezing cold rod in the early morning!
Despite the benefits, cork is a much less durable material for fishing rod handles than EVA. You’re more likely to see a cork handle crack sooner than EVA, especially if you’re using your rod aggressively and frequently.
It’s also quite a difficult material to clean and keep clean, so you’d definitely have to be mindful of taking care of the handle and cleaning it regularly with an Elite rod.
GX2: EVA Foam Handle
The GX2 uses EVA foam for its handle, which helps it to be lightweight and comfortable, while still retaining its density. It’s basically the same material that is used in bicycle seats, ski boots, and hockey pads, so you can see how it’s an ideal material for comfort.
Its versatility doesn’t end there, though. This material can be cut and shaped very easily to allow each fisher to create a handle that suits their hand perfectly.
All you’d need is a lathe (a machine tool that can spin the handle quickly), some coarse sandpaper to cut down on the width of the handle, a file to shape the handle how you want it, and some less coarse sandpaper to give a smoother texture.
This might all seem like a lot of trouble to go through for a better fitting handle, but at least the option to do so is there with EVA foam. Other materials are much more difficult to shape the exact way you’d want them.
However, EVA handles are significantly less comfortable to hold for long periods of time than cork ones. This is a pretty important aspect of handle material so it goes a long way to determining our favorite.
Ultimately, it all depends on what you want to use your rod for.
Whilst cork handles might be more useful for fishing with more sensitivity and touch, EVA handles are better suited for rods that are to be used with bait or placed in a rod holder.
Overall, we’d say cork probably provides the highest quality fishing rod handle. Therefore, despite losing out a bit on durability, the Elite rod wins the first round between these two.
Ugly Stik GX2 vs Elite Rod Material
Visually, it’s not always clear which rod uses which material, so it can be difficult to tell what the best one will be for a long day of fishing.
One thing we can say for sure about both of these rods is that they are some of the most durable you can get at this price point.
Using what the company refers to as ‘Ugly Tech rod building technology, they combine graphite with fiberglass to create a stronger rod that’s still light and flexible enough to use without any issues.
This is true for both rods, meaning they both excel above most of the other competition on the market, and have done for a few decades now!
However, the Elite rod also wins this round because it’s made with around 35% more graphite than the GX2.
This means that the whole rod ends up being lighter, without making it much more brittle (thanks to the implementation of fiberglass to keep it strong).
If you’re out on the water, holding your rod for a long time, you’ll definitely notice this difference.
Ugly Stik GX2 vs Elite Rod Length
When it comes to the length of your rod, everyone has different needs. If you’re looking to make accurate, short-range casts, a smaller rod is better suited.
Alternatively, longer rods allow you to cast over greater distances and are better for when accuracy doesn’t matter as much.
Of course, ideal sizes will also vary depending on your own physical capacities. For example, if you want to buy a rod for a child, smaller is naturally the way to go. The ideal size for children will depend on how tall they are, so you should consult any recommended size charts or shop expert opinions before purchasing.
So there’s no definitive size that makes one rod better than another overall, so we have to look at which of these two rods offers the most choice.
In this case, the GX2 comes out on top, with pole lengths ranging from 4’6” to 9’ for its spinning series and 5’6” to 7’6” with the casting series.
Comparing this to the Elite rod, there’s no competition. Elite spinning rods range from 4’6” to 7’6” and casting series rods only go from 6’6” to 7’.
It’s clear to see that the GX2 has a much greater range of options available to suit your needs, so it wins this round in terms of overall versatility.
However, if you prefer the Elite rods and can find them in a size that works for you, this shouldn’t stop you from going ahead and getting one.
Ugly Stik GX2 vs Elite Power
Similar to rod length, the amount of power you’ll need to generate from your rod depends on what style of fishing you want to do.
Power is generated by the weight of the rod: the heavier the rod, the higher its power rating.
We won’t get into what all the different numbers and power ratings on each rod mean, but there are plenty of helpful guides available online that can help you find the perfect power for your needs.
In terms of our match-up, the GX2 offers rods ranging from ‘medium light’ to ‘heavy’ power ratings, whereas the Elite covers ‘ultra light’ to ‘medium heavy’.
Therefore, there really isn’t much difference between the range of power ratings each rod offers. The main point of difference between them is which weighting they are more suited to.
If you’re looking for a rod on the lighter end of the scale, you’re more likely to find what you’re looking for with an Elite. However, the GX2 has more options on the heavier end of the scale.
There isn’t really a winner here, just different strokes for different folks!
Number of Pieces Available
One of the most annoying things about fishing is that you’ll often have to transport a lot of equipment to and from your favorite fishing spot.
Unless you’re very lucky and live right next to a good fishing lake, this is probably the thing you dread having to do every time you fish.
That’s why it’s important to have a rod that’s easy to travel with and doesn’t take up too much space.
We’ve already established the difference between weight categorizations for each rod, but this shouldn’t be your primary concern when thinking about which will be easier to transport.
Instead, we’re looking at how many pieces the rod will compact down to. For example, some variants of the GX2 spinning range come in 4 pieces, making it super easy to fit into a bag or the trunk of a car.
On the other hand, Elite spinning rods are only available in 1 or 2 piece sets.
Therefore, the GX2 does provide slightly more convenient options for the traveling fisherman or woman. However, if you don’t mind your rod staying in one piece, this won’t be a problem for you.
Ugly Stik GX2 vs Elite Final Thoughts
Overall, the rod we recommend buying out of these two is the Elite.
Its cork handle offers a better feel to help you stay connected to the fish and the water through your rod.
The combination of graphite and fiberglass makes the strength, power, and flexibility of the Elite’s rod superior to the GX2 without any doubt.
The Elite is definitely the rod to go for if you love fishing.
However, if you’re slightly newer to fishing and just want a simple, yet effective rod to start out with, the GX2 isn’t a bad way to go.
It’s durable enough to allow you to make some mistakes without completely damaging the rod and the convenience of having it break down into several pieces makes it easier to carry around and take to different fishing spots.
Not to mention, if you want a rod for your kids so you can teach them to fish too, the GX2 offers a better range of sizes to suit anybody’s height.
Whatever you choose though, both of these rods are some of the best on the market at such a low price point, so you can’t go wrong either way!