Reviewed by: CAPT. MIKE SCHOONVELD    

         Ugly Stik rods were around for more than a decade before they hired William “Refrigerator” Perry as their spokesmodel. If you don’t know who the “Fridge” was you aren’t an NFL fan. He still holds the record for being the largest player (335 pounds) to score a touchdown in a Super Bowl.

            The most memorable advertisement I remember showed him wearing his Bears uniform and doubling over an Ugly Stik rod. He probably sold more of these nearly indestructible “sticks” than any ad before or since. But Ugly Stik users love their rods for more than just being tough. They’ve always blended strength with fishability.

            I got an Ugly Tuff spinning rod and reel combo from Ugly Stik to test out too late for much walleye fishing last summer, so I took it along on a cisco fishing trip on Grand Traverse Bay in the fall. It performed perfectly. I had the “30″ size reel – the smallest of the Ugly Tuff models – paired with a 6-foot, two-piece rod.  This reel is rated for 6 to 15 pound line and really, though the rod is listed as medium, it tends more towards medium light. I’m certain you could bend the rod over like Refrigerator Perry with 15-pound line.

I spooled it up with 10-pound braid.  On my cisco fishing trip, the fish we were catching were hooked 120 feet or more below the surface. Fishing extra-deep with many small reel makes extra work just because of the amount of cranking it takes to reel in the fish. At almost 30 inches per turn of the handle on the reel on this combo, the ciscoes came to the top without an unduly amount of reeling. 

            That won’t be needed when I fish the Detroit and St. Claire Rivers in the next few weeks, but the smooth front drag will be, I hope.  I probably won’t be jigging more than 30 feet deep, but when one of those big females latches on in the current, the cushion of the rod and the drag slipping at critical times, especially with braided line will be crucial. 

            If you are looking for a terrific, moderately priced rod and reel combo for fishing the walleye run this year (or jigging and casting anywhere else) this Ugly Tough combo will fill the bill. Plan on using it again next year and the next. Ugly Stik rod and reels don’t wear out and won’t let you down, even if you abuse it like Refrigerator Perry did. 

            Widely available at both retail and online outlets, you can see all the specs and a list of retailers near you at

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