Reels | Rods | Lures | SwimbaitsBFS Lines | Terminal Tackle | Tools | Storage | Apparel | Enthusiast | Watercraft | Interviews | Events | Autopsy




Rod Review

Ugly Stik Tiger, the original offshore big cat!

Date: 1/20/02
Tackle type: Rod
Manufacturer: Shakespeare
Reviewer: Zander

Total Score: 8.58

Introduction: The one and only Ugly Stik by Shakespeare is still the top selling rod series of all time. We take a look at this veteran to see just what makes this rod so popular.


Ugly Stik Tiger BWC(AO)2201 Specifications

Material E-Glass/Graphite core
Length 7'0"
Pieces 1 Piece
Colors Orange
Action Medium
Recommended Line 20-50lb
Lure Handling wt. Range 3/4-6oz
MSRP $55.99

Everyone's heard of them...the Ugly Stik line has been around since 1976, and the Ugly Stik Tiger rods have been a top seller since 1985 when Shakespeare first launched the series with the catchphrase "For big game, choose the big cat!" Well it looks like anglers all over the world are still fishing with the big cat.


While arguably not the prettiest rods (then again they are called "Ugly Stiks" for a reason) they are perhaps the most recognizable saltwater rod in the world with their orange finish and red highlights.


I paired a brand new Shakespeare Tiger with a Penn 320GTi for a real world test that would ultimately change the way I look at Ugly Stiks forever.

Real World Test: The stage was set for a great day of testing when MP and I chartered a boat out of Santa Cruz. I paired the Ugly Stik with a new Penn 320GTi reel.

The Tiger has a strong base and a sensitive tip that enables anglers to sense hits over 300ft down!

The first thing I noticed was the high quality components that Shakespeare employed including Graphite Fuji reel seats with reinforced steel hoods. These were able to grip this medium sized reel very tightly.

Complete Rig for the Tiger

Rod Ugly Stik Tiger BWC(AO)2201
Reel Penn 320GTi
Line 20lb Berkeley Fireline

Once I started fishing with the Tiger I was surprised by the strength of the rod butt paired with a rather fast tip. The Tiger uses a proven construction called the "Howald Process" which features a graphite core coated with a e-glass outer layer. I could feel the unique strength and sensitivity that comes from the implementation of this technology. Interestingly if you look closely enough you can actually distinguish the graphite wrap under the e-glass coating.

I was able to clearly feel hits from fish over 200ft down with quick vibrations in the tip that transferred into the base. The rod is able to increase sensitivity to the angler by extending the blank through the entire handle.

Dual and triple hookups from 200 feet down cause anglers to appreciate the strength of the Ugly Stick (notice how rigid the lower portion of the rod remains)

When I started hooking fish and pulling them hundreds of feet to the surface the Tiger's base barely flexed. Even the rod tip remained arced nicely and seemed to feel no stress. One of the reasons that the rod feels so stable is because Shakespeare opted for a nine stainless steel guides close together. The second reason anglers feel at ease using the Tiger is because of the oversized EVA foam grips that provide ample cushioning to the hands and arms even with strong vibration of fish fighting on the other end of the line.

This rod is incredibly durable. At one point I snagged on the bottom of the ocean and was tugging and pulling on the rod in a violent frenzy in an attempt to break free of the snag. At no point did the rod feel like it was at maximum tension. It is no coincidence that the Ugly Stik is the number one rod for tackle rentals on land and on charters....these things are built "Ugly Tough!"

An affordable price and outstanding durability makes the Tiger a real favorite for charter rental gear

While definitely not a rod for finesse fishing I could find no fault in the tried and true design that makes the Ugly Stik what it is today. The combination of a powerful base and a fast and strong tip make a lethal combination for tackling big game fish. One thing that makes the rod even more appealing is what Shakespeare calls the "Ugly Back" guarantee which 60 day/five year warranty on all rods. 


Ugly Stik Tiger Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Howald Process is fantastic, even after all these years other rods have trouble matching the Tiger's quality and construction, especially when you consider the price! 9
Performance The combination of a stiff base and fast tip make the Tiger a flexible and durable rod 9
Price One word....CHEAP! Amazing price that is affordable to all anglers 9.5
Features Nice Fuji guides, but that's about it. This is a rod built for one purpose, and doesn't have a lot of new features. 7
Design (Ergonomics) Good timeless design that is at ease handling small to large game. Nice EVA foam grips 8
Application Excellent versatility with a casting rod that can tackle multiple species with many lures 9

Total Score


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Howald Process L Comes in one "Ugly" color
J Very durable and flexible L Not best suited for lure fishing
J Proven Performance  
J Great Price!  

Conclusion: What makes the Ugly Stiks so popular? A timeless construction that to this day still performs well and a great price make the Tiger the rod to beat, and the bar by which all newer saltwater rods are measured by. The Tiger continues to be a dominating force in the world of big game fishing, but the flexibility of this rod can easily be carried over to live bait fishing for catfish and stripers. At such a low price every serious angler should have one of these in their collection as a primary rig or as proven backup solution.

Until next time....Tight Lines!









Copyright 2000-2023 TackleTour LLC All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy information