Shakespeare Ugly Stik 20/30lb Braid rod

by Des Westmore

Ugly Stik is a longstanding name from the Shakespeare stable that’s rooted in quality stretching back many years. There have been numerous different Ugly Stik boat and uptide rod incarnations, here Des Westmore takes the latest ‘Braid 20/30lb’ rod for testing.

Various Shakespeare Ugly Stik rods I have passed through my hands over the years. Some were superb while others were less inspiring. First impressions of the Ugly Stik Braid 20-30lb were favourable: it felt lively, responsive in the tip and well balanced throughout. I harboured high hopes of this incarnation achieving the top sporting performance that elevated the early Ugly Stiks rods to their undisputed classic status.

Shakespeare Ugly Stik 20/30lb Braid rod decal

This is a slim rod is with a maximum diameter at the butt of 5/8in (16mm). The rod is a standard two-piece with a 66in (1.68m) spigot-jointed top section to a 30in (0.76m) handle. Overall length is comfortable at 8 feet (2.43m), which I believe is the ideal length for a rod in the 20 – 30lb bracket.


Visible blank wall thickness in the top section is considerable with no skimping on materials apparent. The top section has a high strength spiral core that’s over-woven with fibre-glass/high carbon tape with the carbon fibres running up the blank. The small outside diameter of the blank, combined with the substantial wall thickness results in a compact modern spigot.

Shakespeare Ugly Stik 20/30lb Braid rod spigot
Shakespeare Ugly Stik 20/30lb Braid rod guide Shakespeare Ugly Stik 20/30lb Braid rod tip ring

The upper tip is transparent and typically ‘Ugly Stik’, while thread whipping on the final three intermediates and tip guide are fluorescent to accentuate tip reverberations and bite spotting. Other whippings are black edged with silver. There are 10 Fuji lined guides plus tip ring. The top six guides are single-leg, while the remaining four are standard three-legs. Tip action is very supple, and the single leg guides compliment this attribute rather than dampen it as can happen if bulkier guide patterns are used.

Handle configuration

The fore-grip is 12ins (300mm) of a black EVA which is flat on the upper and lower sides to counter any rod rotating under pressure, and a genuine Fuji screw reel seat is correctly fitted with the threads pointing towards the butt cap. There is no gip immediately behind the reel seat with a 6 ½ in (170mm) length of grippy diamond hatched shrink tube fitted above the butt cap. Overall, the rod is accessorised with consideration and well finished.

Shakespeare Ugly Stik 20/30lb Braid rod reel seat and handle Shakespeare Ugly Stik 20/30lb Braid rod butt

The Shakespeare Ugly Stik 20-30 Braid was first trialled over the course of a wreck outing for pollack and cod. I fished with up to 10ozs of lead and caught cod to 12lb. The rod handles well and was enjoyable to use. Plenty of strength in the lower reaches blends unerringly with that gentle tip to forma lovely sporting rod that’s easily capable of leading big fish to the boat without any need to panic. Even a small pollack achieves a generous bend, but there’s always an undercurrent of lower gutsiness should bigger fish be engaged.

The 20/30 braid is also very much at home when trotting downtide with the boat at anchor. Bite display on the tip is superb. However I would suggest that if you fish venues where more than 1lb of lead is required then you would be better served by a rod with a stiffer tip. Summarising the general action, it would be fair to say that this rod leans more towards a 20lb blank rather than favouring the heavier end of the 20/30lb spectrum.

The Ugly Stik 20-30lb Braid rod lived up to its initial promise. My personal preference would be to have a simple grip behind the reel seat but others will prefer the unadorned make up of butt. RRP is £109.99. Click here for more information.

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