Overall the rod is still in perfectly usable condition. The only parts showing any real signs of wear are the eyes with the corrosion, however this would probably have been prevented to some degree had the rod been washed after use each time. Some corrosion is too be expected though whether cleaned after each session or not.
The rod works well with weights between 2oz up to 5-6oz when bottom fishing. There is not enough sensitivity in the rod to fish properly with weights less than 2oz, you just just don't feel enough connection with your end gear. Weights above 5-6oz and you start to lose the action of the rod and a 12-20lb would handle it better. My reels are loaded with 20lb braid and this seems to be around the upper limit of line strength you would need to use, anymore it it would become a bit overkill for what the rod could handle.
The tip is fairly sensitive for smaller stuff but bend the rod through to the lower half and it starts to lock up. This is brilliant for applying pressure to bigger fish. This combination of sensitive tip, reasonably forgiving top half and stiffer lower half is what i love about the Ugly Stik and is what makes it, in my opinion, a brilliant all-round kayak rod for UK kayak fishing. The more forgiving top half is important when paying a fish close to the kayak when you have the rod at a high angle and the fish is directly below you and trying to dive. The long tip/short butt combination gives a lovely through action when the rod is under pressure. With the joint just above your hand you can judge how much you can bend this rod without risk of breaking it. This means that you can really bend the Ugly Stik and put pressure on a big fish.....
The rod is great for simple feathering/tinselling for mackerel and other bait fish. A 3 oz weight seems to work well on the rod for this, lighter if the fish are close to the surface. The rod handles a string of mackerel well.
Light Bottom Fishing
I have used the rod in the competitions i have fished over the last year. In these competitions i have targeted mini species using fairly light tackle and weights around 1-2oz. Whilst the rod performed reasonably well i could have got away with a lighter rod for the size of fish and it did feel overkill when targeting the mini species. It still caught me plenty of fish though including various Wrasse, small Pollack, Bream, Mackerel, Garfish and more.
Heavier Bottom Fishing
The rod performs really well with weights between 2 and 5-6oz, with a 3 or 4oz weight about perfect for the rod. I really like the rod for drift fishing baits over clean ground for flatfish, gurnards and more. The Ugly Stik has a brilliant combination of sensitive tip and reasonably forgiving top half for detecting the often suttle bites from flatfish and gently playing them to the kayak, but plenty of power lower down incase a bigger fish unexpectedly nails the bait. It would struggle with bite detection in a heavy tide with heavy weights but in most other situations it works well.
I have used it to bottom fish in depths up to 120ft. When drift fishing in water around this depth the rod was put to test by a hard fighting Couch's Bream. It was hooked over rough ground and ran hard towards it once hooked. This is when the stiffer lower half of the rod came into play and you can lock up against the fish to stop them from reaching sanctuary. Once danger has passed the tip does much of the work to play the fish whilst still providing a good fight.
The Ugly Stik is no good for light lure fishing - a dedicated lure fishing rod is much better suited. It has however proven a great rod for heavy lure fishing in deep water, in particular when vertical jigging for Pollack with lures over 1.5oz (42 grams).
When coupled with a 2500 sized reel and 20lb braid the combination is great for battling with hard fighting reef Pollack. That stiffer lower half is great for applying pressure against a fish running back to the reef and rocks but once turned and away from snags the fish can be played with the more forgiving top half of the rod. The Ugly Stik has brought me Pollack, Ballan Wrasse, Cuckoo Wrasse, Cod, Bass, Ling and more fishing this method.
Some of the eyes are showing signs of saltwater use with surface corrosion but nothing that at this point in time is going to lead to broken or cracked eyes. Not too bad considering i have never washed the rod. The rest of the rod is in pretty good condition and is sure to last many more seasons of use, if it doesn't take a journey to Davey Jones locker in the meantime.
The 6-12lb Ugly Stik 7ft 6in rods will continue to be a regular feature on my kayak fishing trips. My 12-20lb Ugly Stiks have taken a back seat and are being reserved for Tope fishing, Conger fishing and big Ray fishing, the 6-12lb rods will be put to use for everything else. At around £50 for one of these rods i would be surprised if you are disappointed....i'm definitely not!