Winter has come, and Christmas shouldn’t be the only thing you’re looking forward to! Hint: Jesus isn’t the only one who can walk on water.
Ice Fishing on frozen lakes is arguably the most exciting new winter sport.
Today, ice fishing is as exciting as it gets. With sonar devices, the waiting game has become prospecting. With creature comforts like fully stocked winter shelters — it becomes a cozy vacation.
It may sound fairly straightforward, but the dangers of being on a frozen lake cannot be overstated.
While a lazy Sunday spent fishing at a pond near your home could be a solitary activity, it is imperative that you don’t ice fish alone.
You could catch hypothermia, drift away on a large chunk of ice, or drown. But don’t be alarmed — some simple precautionary measures can make sure your ice fishing experience is safe and rewarding.
Making sure you’re dressed warm enough is primary.
You also have to choose your grade of shelter: from tents to shacks to full-fledged winter shelters with solar TV. And as you’ve probably guessed already — this can amount to a lot. Ice fishing, like most winter sports, can be a bit pricey.
So when you’re spending on the right snow boots to make sure your toes don’t get frostbite — you might be interested in saving some bucks on buying affordable, durable, and high-performing tackle.
Ice fishing spinning rods can range from $15 to around $150. If you don’t want to shell out $100+ or compromise on quality, I have good news.
There are fantastic spinning rods in the market in the $20-30 range, and the Shakespeare Ugly Stik is one of them.
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The hallmark of an Ugly Stik is that it’s durable. It’s made for anglers who “fish ugly” and has quite the reputation for itself. The handle is signature, and many people buy it because of the band style handle.
Here’s a funny video of a guy lifting things around his house with the Ugly Stik to show you how strong it is!
This spinning rod is also the best-seller in its category at Amazon.
There’s no target audience for this rod: it’s perfect for beginners, but you also have anglers using them for years who swear by their ugly stiks and won’t trade them for anything!
- Extremely affordable
- Well reputed brand and durable
- Blank is a mix of graphite and fiberglass.
- EVA foam handle
- Strong backbone
- Light rod is a bit too soft and suited for very small fish.
- Medium and Medium Heavy rods don’t seem to have much difference.
Shakespeare Ugly Stik Ice Spinning Rod Test
The Shakespeare Ugly Stik handles are its recognizable signature feature. The band style handle is unique, apparently using an Ugly Stik unofficially enters you into the club of rough-and-tough anglers.
The rod itself looks much more modern than other rods; it’s completely black and sleek. The blank is made with Ugly tech, out of a hybrid combination of graphite and fiberglass.
The handle is made out of EVA foam. EVA foam is a more waterproof material than cork and doesn’t get as cold as well, so it’s more comfortable to grip.
The guides are made out of one-piece stainless steel. Of course, the rod has the famous clear tip (which is supposed to be softer than the rest of the blank) for unmatched sensitivity.
Shakespeare Ugly Stiks last forever. You can tell it’s made of superior quality. I think the true test of the craftsmanship of a rod is the alignment of the guides.
The rod’s balance with the guide alignment is perfect, and you can mount almost any size of spinning reel on to it.
The Medium Heavy is incredibly high-performing, it has one of the most robust backbones, but the soft, clear tip ensures that you can feel the smallest nibbles of fish. An angler has actually caught a 36” mackinaw trout with the Medium Heavy!
While the EVA foam handle is excellent for cold temperatures, it isn’t as strong as AAA cork. Even if your sturdy Ugly Stik rod is fighting an epic battle with a thrashing fish, the handle can sometimes crack under pressure.
This is definitely a rare occurrence, but necessary to note nevertheless.
The rods are all light action, and even the light power rods are more durable than other brand counterparts in the market.
Some anglers have complained that the Light rods bend a bit too much, but we suspect there could have been other factors involved (more massive fish than the rod can handle, or the wrong pound test line).
The Shakespeare Ugly Stik Spinning Ice Rod is the perfect mid-range rod. You get a durable and reputed ice fishing rod without going entirely broke. Most well-established brands have higher-end products (we’re looking at you, St. Croix).
I would go so far as to say that the Ugly Stik quality you get for this price is unmatched. You don’t really have to pore over the specifics with the Ugly Stik. You could really blindly purchase it and be rest assured of high-performance over a long period.
Things to consider before purchasing an ice fishing spinning rod
- Spinning reel vs. Inline reel: If you’re a novice to ice-fishing, it’s recommended that you start with spinning reels. But if you’re in that mid-range of a few seasons down and want to upgrade to an inline reel soon — don’t splurge on a spinning rod if you’re planning to throw it away soon.
- Rod power: Understanding the fish of your frozen lake of choice is key. Know how big your fish prospects are and choose a rod accordingly. A Light rod is good for perch, crappie, and any fish under 2lbs. More than that, and you’ll need something more powerful.
- Rod action: In ice fishing, you don’t necessarily need Fast action since fish move slowly in cold temperatures. But look for Moderate action that can perform in all situations.
Alternative spinning ice rods
The Fenwick HMG is closest to the price and performance of the Shakespeare Ugly Stik.
If you’re specifically looking for a very high-performance Medium or Medium Heavy rod, the Fenwick is a reliable option because of its exceptionally sturdy backbone.
It’s also quite lightweight with moderate action (compared to the Ugly Stik’s light action). I’m also a fan of the premium AAA grade cork handle.
But if it’s a Light or Ultralight you’re after, steer clear away from the Fenwick.
2. 13 FISHING – Tickle Stick Ice Rod
The tickle stick is a high-end ice rod almost three times the price of the Ugly Stik. I’m attaching it here because of its superior performance in the Ultralight and Light rod variants.
Most brands fall a little short in their light rods that can be too delicate– but nobody’s heard of a Light Tickle Stick ever snapping in two.
I think the reason why it’s so sturdy is that it’s made with a technology called Parallel Composite Construction. That means the fibers of the blank are all linear, and the tip is flat as well.
The Shakespeare Ugly Stik ice rod is the perfect mid-range ice rod.
If you’ve been lake fishing for years with an Ugly Stik, and you’re just getting into ice fishing and want to know how it’s going to hold up, the answer is beautiful. It has the same sturdiness and durability.
The only reason I can foresee someone not purchasing the Ugly Stik is they have a particular requirement in mind (for example, they need an exceptionally strong Light rod) or want faster action.
Apart from that, we wholly recommend the Ugly Stik. It 10/10 lives up to the hype!