Shakespeare Fishing Rod Review: A High-Quality Product?

Fishing rod bended at the dock

A while back a fishing buddy of mine suggested I write a Shakespeare fishing rod review. Being a Shakespeare tackle fan, that suggestion found fertile ground as I'm a firm believer that their rods are underrated.

Shakespeare fishing tackle has been around for a good long time. I started using their tackle back in the early 80s and most of it still works just fine today.

Now, even back then I remember some guys looking down their noses at my Shakespeare gear and me just not getting their prejudice.

Granted, their tackle has always occupied the lower end of the pricing and feature scales. However, that's not enough reason to write stuff off that works and works well, to my mind at least.

That got me thinking about Shakespeare in general and asking myself who they really are.

Shakespeare Fishing Rod Review: The Big Picture

William Shakespeare, yep you read right, founded his company in 1897 in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Now, if my rudimentary math serves me correctly, that puts 122 years of hard-won industry experience under Shakespeare's belt. That in itself has to say something about Shakespeare fishing tackle.

Even though Shakespeare has a bunch of noteworthy achievements to its credit, it wasn't an easy journey by any means. Yet they prevailed and are still producing good quality, albeit cheaper, fishing tackle today.

So, realistically, how do Shakespeare fishing rods compare with other industry players and do they deliver acceptable levels of quality and feature?

How We'll Structure Our Shakespeare Fishing Rod Review

Man looks at the camera holding his fishing rod and a fish

Image via: Flickr

To keep this Shakespeare fishing rod review fair we will compare three representative Shakespeare products against three similar competitor products.

The three pairs of products will represent some of the most popular fishing niches and will be compared in order based on the following points.

  • Application
  • Hardware
  • Build quality
  • Special features

Please note that individual points may be omitted if they are not applicable to the specific product in review.

Our Shakespeare Rod Selection

Three fishing rod bended in the barrier

Image via: Flickr

Here goes with our selection of Shakespeare rods. The categories chosen for the Shakespeare fishing rod review are combos, mid-length spinning, and mid-length baitcasting rods.

Shakespeare Catch More Fish Spinning Fishing Combo

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Shakespeare Catch More Fish Spinning Fishing Combo

Image via: Amazon

The Shakespeare Catch More Fish Spin Fishing Combo is an interesting package. Designed for inshore saltwater spinning, the combo consists of a rod, a pre-loaded reel, and a really useful accessory pack.

The rod is a 7-foot, 2-piece pole with a medium action and 10 to 25-pound line rating. The reel is a 35 size, aluminum spool spinning reel pre-loaded with 145 yards of Stren 10 pound mono.

The goodie bag included with this combo is a pleasant surprise. Included are terminal tackle and Berkley Gulp® bait selections, all presented in a handy mini tackle box.

The tackle selection includes:

  • Three pre-tied leaders with hooks and barrel swivels
  • One pre-tied popping cork with hook and leader
  • Four 3/0 wide gap inshore hooks
  • Two jig heads
  • Five barrel swivels
  • Two egg sinkers
  • Four split shots
  • Five fluorescent beads
  • One rigging guide

The Berkley Gulp® soft bait selection includes:

  • Three, three-inch shrimp — new penny color
  • Three, two-inch peeler crab — natural color

Combo Hardware

There is very little information available on the hardware specifics for the Catch More Fish combo.

In all likelihood, the rod and reel used are generic variants of Shakespeare's standard models. It is clear though that the rod features cork butt and fore grip material and is fitted with a seamless reel seat.

Combo build quality

The overall build quality of this little combo is in line with its intended purpose and modest price point.

Special features

Apart from the accessories included in the package, the Catch More Fish combo has no advertised special features.

Summary and customer reviews

When you decide to buy combo packages like this one, you need to have realistic expectations.

This combo costs less than many of Shakespeare's standard product line rods or reels on their own. It would be unreasonable to expect to get a boutique product at that price point.

That said, the combo's quality is borne out by the positive reviews of this great little combo.

I reckon, if it's not pushed beyond its limits, the Catch More Fish combo will represent good value for money.

UglyStik® GX2 seven-foot, one-piece spinning rod

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UglyStik GX2 Spinning Rod

Image via: Amazon

UglyStik® rods have built a solid reputation among anglers worldwide for being super tough, reliable, and well priced. The new generation GX2 UglyStik® rods feature several technical and cosmetic upgrades which enhance their already impressive heritage.

The UglyStik® GX2 spinning rod we are looking at here is a seven-foot, one-piece rod with a medium-heavy action.

The rod features a pretty wide 8 to 20-pound line rating. The blank action is rated medium heavy action and will cast a 0.25 to 0.63-ounce lure.

These specifications make the UglyStik® GX2 spinning rod ideal for both inshore and offshore spinning. It would also make a great pier or bank rod where short casts are the order of the day.

Rod hardware

The UglyStik® legacy of quality is evident in the GX2 spinning rod. Standard fittings include Shakespeare's proprietary Ugly Tech™ blank construction and six Ugly Tuff™ one-piece, stainless steel guides.

The rod handle is Shakespeare's E pattern and the butt and foregrip are wrapped with EVA grip material. A graphite, low profile seamless reel seat rounds off the rod's hardware.

Rod build quality

The Gen2 GX2 rods continue the Shakespear quality tradition with excellent fittings, binding, and rod finishes. The rods have also been lightened and have improved ergonomics and balance.

In addition, the GX2 rods sport a new matt black finish with attractive red and silver binding. The finishing touch is an UglyStik® logo embossed into the EVA wrapping on the butt.

Rod special features

The UglyStik® GX2 spinning rod features a hook keeper on the fore-end binding and the well known Shakespeare Clear Tip®.

Summary and customer reviews

The tried and trusted UglyStik® legacy of affordable quality and functionality is well evident in all facets of the rod. The upgrades found on the GX2 rods, while not revolutionary, are thoughtful and enhance the rods overall appeal and efficiency.

Not surprisingly, customer reviews for the rod are overwhelmingly positive with 72 percent of reviewers awarding the rod 5.0 out of 5.0 stars. The average rating for the rod is a respectable 4.3 out of 5.0 stars.

In summary, the UglyStik® GX2 spinning rod is a solid, safe choice which will deliver many years of good service.

UglyStik® GX2 seven-foot, two-piece baitcasting rod

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UglyStik GX2 Casting Rod

Image via: Amazon

Our last Shakespeare entry in the Shakespeare fishing rod review is a seven-foot, medium action baitcasting pole.

Also an UglyStik® GX2 rod family member, this rod differs from its spinning sibling in being of slightly lighter, two-piece construction.

This rod has an equally wide 8 to 20-pound line rating as the spinning version. The blank is of medium rating and has a similar 0.25 to 0.63-ounce cast weight range.

Again, these specifications position the GX2 casting rod well for inshore, offshore, and pier fishing applications.

Rod hardware

There is very little deviation between the GX2 spinning and baitcasting rods in terms of hardware. The GX2 casting rod features the same Ugly Tech™ blank construction with eight Ugly Tuff™ stainless steel guides.

The GX2 baitcaster features a C handle pattern with EVA wrapping. The rod's reel seat is a graphite low profile type with a baitcasting pistol grip.

Rod build quality and special features

Again, the GX2 baitcasting rod shares the same build quality and special feature profile as the spinning rod.

Summary and customer reviews

The UglyStik® GX2 feature set, overall quality, and functionality are standard across the entire product line.

Amazon customer ratings for the rod are similarly positive with 4.3 out of 5 stars and I believe buyers can consider it with an equal degree of confidence.

What the Competition Has in the Water

man holding fishing rod to fish in the sea

Image via: Flickr

To get a fair indication of how Shakespeare rods fare in our Shakespeare fishing rod review, let's compare similar competitor products.

Sougayilang Unicorn Travel Fishing Rod Reel Combo

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Sougayilang Unicorn baitcasting Travel Fishing Rod Reel Combos with AAA Portuguese Cork handle-4PC Protable Travel Fishing Pole

Image via: Amazon

The Sougayilang Unicorn combo offers a good set of features to anyone looking for a handy inshore travel or start-up kit. The rod is a four-piece model paired with a spinning reel, a tackle selection and line all presented in a carry bag.

The tackle selection includes:

  • Three hard-bodied lures
  • Three soft paddle-tail lures
  • Two jig heads
  • Two brass bullet sinkers
  • Five snap swivels
  • Five fluorescent beads
  • One 110 yard spool of 33-pound braid line

Overall a handy selection, although I have an issue with including braid line in a kit like this. As far as I'm concerned mono would have been a better choice.

Combo Hardware

The rod included in this combo is a split-butt, four-piece pole fitted with Zirconium insert guides. The upper butt section and the foregrip feature cork wrapping while the lower butt is EVA bound. The reel seat is a graphite seamless type.

The reel is advertised as having 13 + 1 ball bearings and a 40-pound multi-disc carbon drag.

The frame material is graphite with an aluminum spool and CNC machined handle. The frame and rotor also feature individual seals to prevent water from getting into the reel.

Combo build quality

From what I can see and have read in reviews, the combo's rod and reel build quality seem quite good.

The rod ferrules are solid, the binding and finish are flawless and the overall presentation speaks of attention to detail.

Combo Special features

The neat, zip-up canvas bag the combo is presented in is a really great feature.

Summary and customer reviews

Overall this combo appears to be a worthy competitor in our Shakespeare fishing rod review. It offers a good balance of features and accessories coupled with acceptable quality and pricing.

The Amazon customer reviews average out at 3.5 out of 5.0 stars with 42 percent of reviewers awarding a full 5.0-star rating.

Although the combo appears to offer good quality, I don't agree with the choice of line and it would have been a nice touch to pre-spool the reel. I'm also very skeptical regarding the claimed 40-pound drag rating of the reel, but we'll leave it at that.

Cadence Spinning Rod

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Cadence Spinning Rod,CR5-30 Ton Carbon Casting and Ultralight Fishing Rod,Fuji Reel Seat,Durable Stainless Steel Heat Dissipation Ring Line Guides with SiC Inserts,Strongest and Sensitive Action Rods

Image via: Amazon

Our second competitor rod is a seven-foot, one-piece pole from British manufacturer Cadence.

Featuring a medium-heavy action, this rod is rated for 10 to 20-pound line and will cast 0.38 to 1.0 ounces. These numbers place the rod well for use in offshore, inshore, and short-cast pier angling applications.

The rods medium heavy fast action make it perfect for muscling heavy fish up out of deep water. This rod is a feature-rich and affordably priced contender in our Shakespeare fishing rod review.

Rod hardware

The Cadence spinning rod features a Fuji reel seat, stainless steel guides with SIC inserts and a combination of cork and EVA grip material.

Rod build quality

True to the Cadence's high quality, the rod is based on a 30 ton, opposed-lay pattern graphite blank topped off by high-class binding and finishes.

The ergonomics and balance of the rod have also earned high acclaim among anglers from many fishing disciplines.

Rod special features

A special carbon veil finish greatly enhances the durability of the rod.

Summary and customer reviews

Cadence has done very well in establishing themselves as a force to reckoned with in fishing tackle circles. And it certainly shows in this case with Amazon reviewers awarding an average rating of 4.6 out of 5.0 stars.

Even considering my fondness for Shakespeare tackle, I must say the Cadence spinning rod is an outstanding bit of gear.

Berkley Cherrywood HD baitcasting rod

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Berkley Cherrywood HD Casting Rod

Image via: Amazon

The Berkley Cherrywood HD baitcasting rod is a seven-foot, one-piece pole. This baby is rated for 8 to 17-pound line on a medium action blank and will cast 0.25 to 0.75 ounces.

Much like most of our review rods, the Berkley HD is a bit of a jack of all trades. It should be equally at home in most light to medium in and offshore applications as well as pier angling.

Rod hardware

The Berkley HD is built on a composite blank and is topped with their proprietary SS304 stainless steel insert guides.

The reel seat is a graphite, pistol grip type with stainless steel hood. Grip material on both foregrip and butt is cork.

Rod build quality

The overall quality of the HD baitcasting rod is top drawer with excellent attention to detail in fit and finish.

Rod special features

One of the really outstanding features of Berkley's HD baitcasting rod is it's blank through butt construction. This technique sees the rod blank running from the tip to the butt lending the rod unparalleled rigidity and strength.

Summary and customer reviews

At the risk of sounding like a total traitor, I must say that the Berkley HD baitcaster sorely tests my Shakespeare loyalties.

And it's not just me, over two hundred Amazon reviewers give the HD a 4.0 out of 5.0-star rating. And 64 percent of them rate the rod at a full 5.0 stars.

So, there you have it. Our last runner in the Shakespeare fishing rod review is a solid, good quality stalwart.

Shakespeare Fishing Rod Review: the Verdict

Man sitting at the dock with his fishing rod on his hand and another one beside him

Image via: Flickr

All jokes aside, this has been a tough one. I am, and always will be, an unashamed Shakespeare fan. And not because of baseless loyalties or preconceptions.

I believe in the brand because I've just had and seen too many reasons to do so and nowhere near enough not to.

The question at hand in the Shakespeare Fishing Rod Review is, are Shakespeare rods quality products.

If my opinions are ignored completely the answer is still a resounding yes! Again, not because of biases but because the facts speak for themselves — loudly and soundly.

Thanks for taking the time to read this Shakespeare Fishing Rod Review. If you have any Shakespeare tackle experiences you'd like to share, please comment below.


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