Where Are Ugly Stik Rods Made?

A subsidiary of Shakespeare company, the Ugly Stik is a fishing equipment retail company. Ugly Stik is a leader in producing affordable and quality fishing gear and is best known for its fishing rods. 

But where are Ugly Stik rods made? Ugly Stick fishing rods are made in China from component parts manufactured in other countries. The main components of Shakespeare Ugly Stik rods are the USA-made fiberglass rod blank, line guides made in Japan or Korea, and a reel and handle set made in several countries outside China. 

Keep reading to learn more about the Shakespeare Ugly Stik company, including its history, product range, and much more.

What Is an Ugly Stik Fish Rod?

What Is an Ugly Stik Fish Rod

In 1976, the Shakespeare fishing company launched the first Ugly Stik fishing rod. Ugly Stick rods were an instant success because of the way they were built. 

Shakespeare used the Howald process to manufacture the new Ugly Stik fishing rod. Dr. Arthur M. Howald invented this process in 1947 while building the “Wonderod.” Shakespeare used and perfected the Howald process when manufacturing the first Ugly Stik fishing rods. 

These Ugly Stik rods had internal spiral fiberglass cores and parallel fiberglass fibers saturated with pigmented polyester resin. All of these components were then covered in several layers of tape, which held everything together during the curing process. The tape was later removed using high-pressure water jets. 

New Ugly Stik rods are still made using the Howald process. But the materials and methods have been improved to follow the technological advances. 

Because of the Howald process, modern Ugly Stick rods can be bent into a circle without breaking. The special construction process of Ugly Stik rods makes them durable and stiff but flexible. 

The newer models of Ugly Stik rods are manufactured using graphite in the center instead of fiberglass, making them extremely sensitive. The fiberglass provides the sturdiness and stiffness fishing requires, and the graphite core provides sensitivity. 

The Ugly Stik rods god their name from the “ugly” appearance of the brand’s first rods. From huge, graphite-colored rods, the appearance of Ugly Stik rods evolved into a red and yellow basket weave design with a clear tip and glossy black finish.

Is Ugly Stik a Good Brand?

Ugly Stik is one of the leaders in manufacturing high-quality and affordable fishing gear. Ugly Stik fishing rods are suitable for novice fishermen and experienced anglers or those looking for a durable fishing rod that won’t break easily.

Ugly Stik rods are known for their durability and functionality and are also comfortable and easy to hold. Designed to withstand the most aggressive fish, Ugly Stik rods are ideal for anglers fishing in muddy water. 

Ugly Stik rods are pretty much indestructible and are among the strongest fishing rods on the market.  

Although Ugly Stik rods offer excellent value for the price, they lack the sensitivity needed when jerk baiting or jigging. Ugly Stik rods are also heavier than some high-end rods and may cause you to get fatigued during a long fishing day.

Ugly Stik Rods History and Origin

Ugly Stik is a company and a subsidiary of Shakespeare’s fishing equipment company. Initially called William Shakespeare, Jr. Company, William Shakespeare Jr. founded Shakespeare in 1897 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. 

In 1915, the William Shakespeare Jr. Company changed its name to Shakespeare. In 1939, Shakespeare invented the “Backlash” brake and “Wondereel,” one of the most popular reels on the market at that time. 

The company moved the base of its operations from Kalamazoo, Michigan, to Columbia, South Carolina, in 1970. 

In 1976, Shakespeare introduced the first-ever Ugly Stik rod made using the Howald process of construction. The first Ugly Stik rods were large in size and featured metal handles, black wraps with white pinstripes, and the graphite color visible through the blank. 

These rods had an “ugly” appearance, so they were named Ugly Stik. Over the years, the appearance of Ugly Stik rods evolved into a new and easily recognizable design. 

Modern Ugly Stik fishing rods have a clear tip, shiny pitch-black finish, and yellow and red basket weave design near the handle. 

During its long history, Shakespeare manufactured many other things besides fishing equipment.

In World War I, Shakespeare’s factory was used to manufacture automobile carburetors and mortar fuses. During World War II, this company made controls for tanks, aircraft, and automobiles.

Shakespeare produced golf club shafts, archery equipment, pool cues, and the first fiberglass radio antennas. From 1968 to 1986, this company manufactured trolling motors attached to an angler’s boat. 

In 1996, Shakespeare introduced Ugly Stik Lite rods, made using the Howald process triple build construction for a lighter rod. A decade later, the company launched a series of fishing gear products specially designed for women. 

In 2007, Pure Fishing and Shakespeare Fishing Tackle merged to form the world’s leading supplier of fishing tackle and related products. 

Ugly Stik Product Range

Ugly Stik Product Range

Ugly Stick manufactures fishing rods, reels, lines, and tackle for freshwater, saltwater, and fly fishing. This brand also produces fishing tools, equipment, and fishing apparel, such as shirts, sunglasses, hats, and more. 


A fishing reel is usually mounted on a fishing rod and is used in fishing to coil and stow fishing lines. Ugly Stik manufactures the following fishing reels:


Ugly Stik has you covered whether you’re into freshwater, saltwater, or fly fishing. Ugly Stik produces the following types of fishing rods:

Freshwater Fishing Rods

Freshwater fishing rods are used in lakes, rivers, ponds, creeks, and streams. If you target catfish, crappy, salmon, or other freshwater fish species, check out the different models of casting and spinning rods manufactured by Ugly Stik:

Saltwater Fishing Rods

Do you prefer offshore fishing, and reeling in massive ocean fish? Here are the different models of Ugly Stik spinning and casting rods for saltwater fishing:

Fly Fishing Rods

Fly fishing rods are made specifically for fly fishing and are generally lighter and thinner than most fishing rods. When casting a fly-fishing rod, an angler uses the weight of the fly to build momentum and propel the lure to the target. Ugly Stik makes the following fly fishing rod:

How Good Are Ugly Stik Fishing Rods?

Ugly Stik rods are one of the most durable fishing rods on the market. Ugly Stick GX2 rods are made from fiberglass and graphite, making Ugly Stick rods stronger and more versatile than other fishing rods.

Ugly Stik manufactures different models of fishing rods for freshwater, saltwater, and fly fishing. These rods are hard to break and are ideal for catching big fish or fishing in muddy waters.

Despite being one of the strongest fishing rods on the market, Ugly Stik rods are very affordable and easy to come by. Whether you are a novice or an experienced angler, you can hardly go wrong with adding one or several Ugly Stik rods to your collection. 


Ugly Stik fishing rods are manufactured in China from parts made in various countries. Although a “made in China” sticker can give you pause, know that most big brands in the fishing industry manufacture their products in China or other Asian countries. 

Ugly Stik fishing rods are among the strongest fishing poles on the market, built to withstand much abuse and reel in massive fish. The virtually unbreakable Ugly Stik rods are suitable for beginners and seasoned anglers fishing under challenging conditions. 

Ugly Stik manufactures different models of freshwater, saltwater, and fly-fishing rods at affordable prices. Ugly Stik rods are one of the most durable fishing rods known to fishermen, built for complex conditions, reeling in massive fish, and fishing in muddy waters.