I have used at least one of my two Ugly Stik 6-12lb 7ft 6in Kayak Rods on practically every kayak fishing session over the last year. They have been used with both multiplier and fixed spool reels, and used for various fishing methods including simple feathering, drift fishing, fishing at anchor, light bottom fishing with weights less than 2oz, heavier bottom fishing with weights up to 6oz, lure fishing and more. I have not washed them once or performed any sort of maintenance on them. The following photos show a comparison between the new condition and the condition of one of my Ugly Stiks after one year of use. I have selected the rod that is in worse condition of the two.
Starting at the butt end..... There is some wear on the x-rap shrink tube where it has been rolling around in a rod holder but nothing significant to worry about. The rubber butt cap is still attached to the rod and in fine condition.
The reel seat is where we start to see signs of use in and around saltwater. There is some light corrosion on the reel retainers but mostly it is clogged up with fish scales and muck! The screw up reel seat is still in good working order although would benefit from a clean and oil as it is getting a bit stiffer to twist the rotating collar.
The EVA foam handle is holding up well although a bit mucky...
The ground carbon joint is still in fine order with no obvious signs of wear.
Most of the eyes are showing signs of surface corrosion. This is not helped by the salt deposits that are on most of the eyes! As i mentioned previously, i have not washed these rods. I expect most of the corrosion would be prevented if the rod was washed or wiped down after each trip. The corrosion on my second rod is not quite so bad. Despite corrosion showing on the eyes, the inner guide i still smooth and not affecting the line/braid running through it. I assume the action of the line against the inner part of the eye keeps them clean and polished and therefore less likely to suffer from corrosion.
The 'Tuff' eyes have been tough and i haven't broken or cracked any of them yet, despite the rods being thrown around without too much care. The overall finish of the rod shows little sign of any scratching or flaking, with no chipping of the varnish around the eyes...just a fine splattering of mackerel scales!
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 a 6500 sized multiplier reel and 2500 or 3000 sized fixed spool reel. I use a multiplier for heavier bottom fishing when either drifting baits or at anchor, and a fixed spool for lighter bottom fishing and heavier lure fishing. These combinations seem to work well. Either type of reel works well with the rod for simple feathering. At 7ft 6in it is a good length for getting the line around the bow from the seated position of a kayak. I have to reach forwards a little bit to do this on my RTM Tempo at nearly 15ft, but not a problem on the RTM Abaco at 14ft.
I have used the Ugly Stik 6-12lb for a variety of fishing methods. It is a great rod for simple feathering, drift fishing baits on the bottom, fishing at anchor on the bottom and vertical lure fishing with lures above 1.5oz.
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.
At the heavier end of the spectrum, i managed to hook a Tope when fishing with hokkais back in the summer on this rod. It was put through its paces but handled the fish well and brought a 20lb Tope to the kayak without too much trouble. i can see bigger Tope over 40lb causing a bit more hassle but if you have the space to play the fish then I'm sure it could handle a bigger fish.
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.
I love this rod! As an all-round kayak rod for targeting 90% of the species you will encounter when kayak fishing in the UK, i reckon you will be hard pushed to find a better rod for around the £50 mark. It struggles with the light stuff below 1-2oz (look for a dedicated lure rod), and it's out of its comfort zone with weights over 6oz (look at the 12-20lb Ugly Stik), but for everything in between it becomes a fantastic rod with a really nice action and capable of handling bigger fish but still provides sport with smaller stuff.
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!
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