Shakespeare GX2 Casting Rod Review

Man using a fishing rod near a body of water

In this Shakespeare GX2 casting rod review, we'll look at the specifications, features, and other highlights of this fishing rod and what makes it an excellent option for just about all fishers. If you are looking for a solid rod to add to your fishing collection, and want a highly durable and reliable rod, this one is your best bet at a very reasonable price point.

For those who are unsure of what kind of casting rod they are looking for, we've also included to comparable casting rods for your consideration. Both options are stout competitors for the GX2, but differ slightly and may be best suited for somewhat different kinds of fishing. 

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​What Is the GX2 Casting Rod?

The Shakespeare GX2 is also called the Ugly Stik by Shakespeare, and it was first released to the public in 1976.  Since its original release, the Ugly Stik has undergone some cosmetic changes and components have been updated to ensure its continued quality and durability.

The new design of the Ugly Stik GX2 is very much in keeping with the original design with a few changes that make it more modern and increase its strength. This rod is known for its overall flexibility and strength that keeps the line in place as fishers reel in fish that can vary in size and weight.

This casting rod has also stood the test of time, and many fishers are still using their rods that were manufactured in the '80s for a variety of fishing trips. This rod is so popular that the website notes that there is “unprecedented demand” that is causing a delay in order fulfillment.​ 

What Kinds of Fishing Suits the Shakespeare GX2 Casting Rod Best?

One of the best parts of this casting rod is that it is an all-around excellent fishing rod that can be used in both freshwater and saltwater environments. Fishers have reported taking this rod all over the world to places like the Pacific Ocean, Lake Mead, Lake Erie, and various saltwater and freshwater rivers.

This rod is also suitable for when fishing from a Kayak and is equally comfortable to use when in any kind of boat even if the water is choppy. Fishers report catching fish that weigh over 50 pounds easily with this rod, and its strength and durability can last for many years.

Product Specifications

​This Shakespeare GX2 casting rod review would be incomplete if we didn’t discuss the construction and overall design of the product. This casting rod comes in five different lengths as follows:

  • 6’
  • 5’6”
  • 6’6”
  • 7’
  • 7’6”

This casting rod is also available in weights that range from medium to medium/heavy.

This rod uses a combination of fiberglass fibers and Graphite to create a material that is both strong and ultra-sensitive in hand. The insert piece of this rod is made from one continuous piece of stainless steel that prevents any "pop-outs" that are common with other products. 

The handle features a contoured grip that can be used in either hand and the red details add a pop of color. This rod does not come with a reel, but it is compatible with a wide variety of different reels, fishing lines, and other accessories. 

These rods are incredibly strong, and some users have reported catching large saltwater fish such as swordfish at lengths as massive as 48". The updated design has also made valuable improvements to how the reel is seated on the rod and the contouring of the handle for greater comfort.

Casting rod on a fence near a body of water

​Image via Pexels

The Ugly Stik Clear Tip is another essential part of this casting rod, and it serves to indicate when there's something caught on the end of the line. The differently colored tip on this fishing rod is more visible than with other models, and that makes it easy to see when the line is being tugged on when fishing from a boat or other moving surface.

The Ugly Stik logo is printed into the grip on this rod, and the EVA material is known for its durability and comfort. The grip doesn’t lose traction against the surface of the hand when wet, so fishers can be confident that their hands won’t slip off the rod.

This rod also features what is called “double foot guides” which are loops that hold the line in place as it runs along the rod. These loops are held by two feet which are secured to the rod on opposite sides of the loop for better strength.

This rod's blank is also better balanced than with other products, and the construction uses lightweight materials that allow the balancing to be more precise. The SS guides on this rod lack inserts which means parts aren't going to be popping off of this rod when it's under load reeling in a bigger fish.

In total, the Shakespeare GX2 comes in 20 spinning models, 15 casting models, and there are three rod packages available. Ugly Stik also offers six models of this rod that are specially designed for women. This rod is one excellent example of a rod that can be easily used by a beginner but is also suitable for a seasoned veteran fisher.


​The Ugly Stik GX2 by Shakespeare is available for $​ which includes just the rod. If other accessories are needed like a reel or fishing line, that will add to the cost, but many fishers have found that they can easily equip themselves with everything they need for less than $​$$.

The Ugly Stik GX2 is one of the best value rods for the money, and its durability has been a continuous feature since its release. Many fishers have Ugly Stik GX2 rods from when they were newly released, and those rods are still serviceable

How It Compares

Silhouette of two man using GX2 casting rod

​Image via Pexels

To get an idea of the value, features, and overall quality of the Ugly Stik GX2 by Shakespeare, we found a few comparable casting rods that are similar. Each of these rods has performed well when used by fishers in real-world scenarios, and the pricing is similar to the GX2. There are of course many rod options if you need more options but these are just a few.

Abu Garcia Vengeance Casting Fishing Rod

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  • Price: $​
  • Ease of Use: 5/5 Stars
  • Assembly Time: 5/5 Stars
  • Build Quality: 4.8/5 Stars

The Abu Garcia Vengeance casting rod features a graphite material that is a robust part of the balanced and light design. This rod also has steel guides that come with inserts made from titanium oxide, and the handle is made from EVA foam that is high density for better comfort and durability.

This casting rod is also very attractive looking with a silver body, and black handles with crossing details. While the grip on this casting rod is not as robust as the Ugly Stik GX2, it's sufficient for most types of fishing as long as the intended target isn’t too heavy.

When paired with the correct reel, this casting rod can be used for larger fish and is well suited for a variety of freshwater and saltwater applications. Users report that the construction of this rod doesn’t always have the strength required for certain types of fishing, and many have experienced rod breakages when reeling in small fish.

At $​ the Abu Garcia, Vengeance casting rod is only slightly more money than the Ugly Stik GX2, and there are a comparable number of features present. Unfortunately, this rod doesn't have the same stunning reputation for durability that the GX2 does, and it also lacks a robust handle that is comfortable when catching larger and bulky fish.

Elite Casting Fishing Rod

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  • Price: $​
  • Ease of Use: 4.8/5 Stars
  • Assembly Time: 5/5 Stars
  • Build Quality: 5/5 Stars

The Elite casting fishing rod is another Ugly Stik rod, and the quality and durability are present in this product as it is in the GX2. For $​, fishers can get a high-quality rod that features a cork handle, sleek black body, and comes in a variety of lengths and weights.

Some drawbacks to this design are that the line guides can be a bit sticky at first, and fishers will need to use the rod to fix this issue. Other than that, this rod is incredibly easy to use and is the perfect choice for a beginner, or someone looking for a rod that doesn't need a lot of set up before fishing.


This rod is also incredibly durable and those who are "bait casters” may have the best luck catching fish with this rod. The Elite casting fishing rod is a good option for all freshwater fishing, and most saltwater fishing when paired with the right reel and line.

This rod doesn’t come with a reel or line recommendations, but it's very compatible with just about every kind of reel and line. This kind of flexibility makes this rod a great value and something that beginners can upgrade over time as their skills and needs change.

Pros and Cons

When comparing this rod with other similar products, it's essential to consider the following pros and cons.


  • Clean black finish that is matte
  • A single durable piece of stainless steel
  • Well balanced and available in several different weights
  • Excellent value for the price
  • Overall a very lightweight rod that doesn’t skimp on features
  • Rod is available as a combo with other accessories for a bargain price


  • The foam handle may not be as comfortable as natural cork
  • Avoid the two-piece model as it can come apart.
  • Requires some testing to find the right weight for you

Is the Shakespeare GX2 Casting Rod Right for You? 

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This Shakespeare GX2 casting rod review wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t carefully consider all of the features in this well-constructed casting rod. The Ugly Stik GX2 by Shakespeare is a clearly defined casting rod, with a great variety of features that make it highly durable and ultimately one of the most solid casting rods available. 

The construction starts with high-quality materials like stainless steel, graphite, and EVA which set the scene for a casting rod that is both affordable and strong. The handle on this casting rod is particularly robust which means more comfortable handling in a variety of fishing situations.

This fishing rod also comes in a variety of different lengths and weights so it can be slightly customized to best fit the needs of the fisher and their intended use for it. This rod is an excellent option for all kinds of freshwater and saltwater fishing, and it has withstood rigorous testing by users in the field.

If you are still unsure if this rod is the right one for you take a look at the $ price tag and the many testimonials where users have reported using this casting rod for several years under harsh conditions without it failing. It's also reassuring to know that this casting rod can pair with just about any reel and line.

The only drawback to this casting rod is that due to the overwhelming demand that Ugly Stik has experienced from buyers, the rods are potentially delayed as online orders are filled as inventory becomes available.

Whether you are an experienced fisher looking for a rod to add to your collection, or new to fishing entirely, the Ugly Stik GX2 by Shakespeare is an a excellent rod that should last for many years.


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