Across the wide array of fishing rods, Shakespeare's Ugly Stik (*Est. $40 with reel) stands out as one of the most popular models for almost 30 years. The Ugly Stik comes up in almost every professional review, and also receives the most comments from users who consistently praise it as one of the best fishing rods on the market, especially in this price range. Field and Stream lists it as one of the strongest rods available and conducted a survey in which readers voted it their number one gear item. Users on Hunting and Fishing Gear Review, Amazon.com and Cabelas.com all give the Ugly Stik high ratings. The reviews all agree that while the Ugly Stik may not have the best components or lightest materials, its versatility and low cost make it a top pick for all skill levels. It features a graphite core surrounded by fiberglass, which means it's a little heavier than an all-graphite rod, but overall is stronger and will last longer. This construction, combined with its low price, makes the Ugly Stik one of the most dependable and usable rods available.
For cheap, durable rods, Field and Stream Magazine also recommends the Berkley Lightning Rod (*Est. $35), saying it offers the same level of strength and usefulness at a low price. The Lightning Rod has received some more attention lately due to the recent upgrade to titanium-footed guides, which decrease weight while reducing wear. Unlike the Ugly Stik, the Lightning rod is made entirely of graphite, making it lightweight and sensitive, but not as durable.
Another Berkley spinning rod, the Berkley Cherrywood (*Est. $25) is recommended by MyFishing-Guide.com as best suited for beginners. It is a graphite composition rod with chromium guides and cork grips. One reviewer at BassPro.com bought it because he wanted "a little cheap piece of trash to bump around with," but was won over by its quality construction, finding it "sensitive yet powerful."
One more rod from Berkley that is quite unique is the Berkley Glowstik (*Est. $35). This E-glass fiberglass fishing rod features a built-in LED light system that charges the rod and lets it glow in the dark for hours. Reviewers at Cabela's found this rod especially useful for catching catfish and other fish that bite best at nighttime. The Glowstik is a two-piece rod.
Outdoor Life names Cabela's Whuppin' Stick (*est. $25) as their pick, praising it as a perfect fishing rod for novices and kids. The Whuppin' Stick, however, is completely fiberglass, making it strong, but overall heavier and less sensitive. Furthermore, it is made up of two pieces, which, while allowing for easier transport, also takes away from the rod's sensitivity, a major drawback for many anglers.