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Product Review: 12' Ugly Stick Big Water

I didn't think I would find a name-brand product for Surf Fishing that I did not like. Maybe that was a bit naïve, and I shouldn't have set the bar so high. Especially when it comes to products that I have heard a few people use and have good things to say about it at the time, but here we are. This week's review is on the Shakespear® 12' Ugly Stick Big Water surf rod. BLUF: It felt ok, but I was not too fond of the rod.

On my quest to cast over the bar, I searched for a 12' rod that would help me in that endeavor. One of my significant stipulations, though, was I didn't want to spend a crazy amount of money to get there. It felt like an uphill battle with so many rods out there and price ranges, and I was dreading it.

My friend Jeremiah had purchased a 12' Ugly Stick Big Water, and I liked its look. The tip, with its see-through color, gave a fantastic visual indicator for bite detection. I watched him launch his cast out each time and was able to get it right where the Pompano were hanging out on the back edge of the bar. Now, imagine, if you will, that your friend is rocking out getting excellent fish, he limits out on Pompano on that one pole, and you can't reach where he is fishing. It's like being a T-Rex trying to do push-ups!

Jeremiah rocking out a limit with his 12' Ugly Stick Big Water

I should have asked him if I could cast it a couple of times and see what it felt like and if I liked it (I did that the next time with his Okuma Longitude, beyond thankful to you for that, J!). I know he would have let me and would have encouraged me to do so (the dude is incredible and one hell of an angler!), but in my quest to catch up with him in range, I went to good old WalMart® and picked one up for about $75. Not a horrible price considering all of the options available on the market today.

I put my Penn Conflict 2 5000 reel on and headed to the surf to try out my new bait launcher. Have you ever had a day where you imagined how it would go only to be let down painfully? That was my first cast. I loaded it up with a 4 OZ weight and went to cast it. Stepped forward and………(pause for effect)…… no different on distance than my other rods. WHAT IN THE ACTUAL $%^& ?!

My imagination was brought back to reality very quickly. It's ok, I told myself, try again. I did, and this time I did get a little further. Now we are getting somewhere. I put a Casting Cannon on it next to get a little more out of the distance and control. Sure enough, just a bit more distance but not over the bar. Ok, I can live with that distance and kept fishing.

I didn't have to wait long to test out how it handled in a fight. The tip started doing its dance that something was about to take the bait, and it was fun to see. That see-through tip was moving quickly, and it only added to the adrenaline rush building to catch the fish. It finally bowed over, and the fight commenced. It was very one-sided as I dragged in a 12" Southern Kingfish (AKA: Whiting). The rod held up well through the rest of the day as I continued to bring in several more whiting. It held up well against just about everything I put it up against but still felt odd compared to my other rods.

PRO/CON this rod:


Good length

Tip color for bite detection

Foam grips are comfortable

The reel seat is a reasonable distance from the base, and the grip is comfortable

Guides are adequate size for the line to flow through


Too much like a noodle action for my preference

I didn't feel right on the cast compared to my other rods (9',11')

The paint/finish seemed to chip very easily

As you can see, all of the CON's are in a personal preference category. It is a nice rod, and I thought it would be the one to bring me to the promised land of long casting; however, it did not. My biggest complaint is the noodle-like action of the rod. The listed heavy action was something I was expecting was just not there for me.

Do I think that you need to avoid this rod? ABSOLUTELY NOT! There are quite a few people that swear by their Ugly Stick Big Water. This rod, however, is not for me. I recommend that if this is a rod you're considering getting, find someone who has one and try it out. It's one thing to practice cast to get a feel in the store, and it's an entirely different thing to do it with a weight hanging off of the end of the line. Those few extra ounces make a considerable difference 10' behind you waiting to be cast out!

Thank you for stopping by and reading this review. I know I'm leaving this open for you to decide on this rod. However, that is what I believe my articles should be: ONE OPINION for consideration. I will never judge someone by the gear they have, and I truly hope that anyone reading this would be the same way. If you have something you'd like me to write about or look into, please drop me a comment or an email at, and I will see what I can do! Until next time, go forth and do good things.

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