Tackle Critic

Ugly Stik Tiger vs Tiger Elite – Worth the Upgrade?

Ugly Stik Tiger vs Tiger Elite Rods

The rod manufacturer, Ugly Stik, has built a reputation for making the toughest and most durable rods in the fishing industry. For big game saltwater fishing, it’s hard to beat the Ugly Stik Tiger and Tiger Elite rods.

Ugly Stik’s Tiger series is an amazing value for the money. These rods have just as much performance as poles that cost over $300.

You can use these rods for any big-game fish species. They’re strong enough to fight tuna, sharks, salmon, halibut, and large freshwater fish such as catfish.

If you’re looking into the Tiger series, there’s a good chance you’re trying to figure out the differences between the regular Tiger pole and the upgraded Tiger Elite model.

Ugly Stik does a poor job outlining the differences between their rod models, and there aren’t many resources online.

That’s why we made this guide, to help anglers compare the Ugly Stik Tiger vs Ugly Stik Tiger Elite. We’ll help you choose the best rod for your specific needs.

Ugly Stik Tiger vs Tiger Elite – what are the differences?

SpecificationsTigerTiger Elite
Lengths6’6” or 7’6’6”, 6’9”, or 7’
Rod PowerML to MHM to H
2-piece options?YesNo
# of Guides8 to 96 to 7
Weight11.5 to 15.5 oz9.9 to 10.4 oz

Looking at the table above, it is easy to see there are many differences between the rods. Both rods have a 7-year warranty, but that’s about where the specification similarities end.

There are more rod length options for the Tiger Elite model. However, the Elite series doesn’t have any two-piece rod designs.

The standard Tiger rod is also heavier than the Elite, which may be an important consideration, depending on where you usually fish.

Now, we’ll discuss the most important differences between the rods and discuss certain qualities that you might be looking for.

The most important differences

Rod Material: The blanks on the Tiger and Tiger Elite rods are both made from graphite. However, the graphite construction process is different for the Tiger Elite.

As the newest Tiger generation, the Elite rod features “higher graphite content” than the standard Tiger pole. This design change reduced the overall weight while also significantly increasing the sensitivity.

If you’re planning on jigging with this pole, the added sensitivity can help you feel the difference between fish strikes and snags. It also takes less effort to jig and cast with the lighter Tiger Elite Elite pole.

Take Away: The Tiger and Tiger Elite poles are both made from graphite materials, but the Elite’s construction process makes it lighter and more sensitive than previous generations. Anglers who jig and cast will benefit from this enhanced performance.

Durability: Although the Tiger Elite has an upgraded graphite blank, both rods have the same amount of strength and durability. Ugly Tech construction and Ugly Tuff guides are used on both rods, which significantly improve backbone power.

The Ugly Tuff guides feature one-piece designs and are made from heavy-duty stainless steel. 

Every Ugly Stik rod we’ve tested has had excellent guides. They improve casting distance and, most importantly, have more than enough strength to fight big offshore fish.

It has actually become an internet challenge to see how much effort it takes to break an Ugly Stik rod. You can literally attach yourself to the Tiger pole and hang yourself off the end of a boat without it breaking.

Take Away: Nothing beats Ugly Stik’s strength and durability. Both the Tiger and Tiger Elite models are perfectly capable of battling the largest saltwater fish.

Weight: One crucial difference between these two models is the weight. The standard Tiger rod weighs significantly more than the Tiger Elite.

As we discussed earlier, this makes the Tiger Elite pole better for jigging and casting.

Kayak anglers would also benefit from this lighter design. We don’t expect many readers are planning to take on a big bluefin from a kayak, but some of you are crazy enough to try.

Take Away: The Ugly Stik Tiger Elite is lighter than the standard Tiger rod.

Sensitivity: With a re-designed blank, the Tiger Elite is far more sensitive than the Tiger pole. 

We love Ugly Stik rods because they have the power to fight a horse but still have a very sensitive tip that can detect bites well.

You also get more feedback through the Tiger Elite’s upgraded handle design. Ugly Stik added a diamond shrink tube over the classic EVA handles, which improves dexterity and transfers of vibrations.

However, the standard Tiger rod already has a good balance between sensitivity and strength. Whichever model you choose, we can all but guarantee you’ll enjoy the rod.

Take Away: Ugly Stik’s Tiger Elite pole is significantly more sensitive than the standard model. While both rods have a soft tip, the backbone is stronger than the rod you currently use.

Ugly Stik Tiger rod review

4.7 Stars | 314 Angler Reviews

Ugly Stik Tiger fishing rod

We can’t get enough of the Ugly Stik Tiger rod. After replacing our expensive high-end poles with this series, we have nothing but positive remarks to give.

If you take care of Ugly Stik rods, they’ll last you a lifetime of use. And if somehow you manage to break one (good luck!), the manufacturer offers a 7-year warranty, replacing your rod free of charge.

The Ugly Stik Tiger is stronger and offers better performance than pricey “name-brand” rods. While it’s designed for live bait fishing, you can use this pole for fishing in all conditions.

Reel Pairing

If you’re searching for a reel to pair with the Tiger or Tiger Elite, we suggest trying out the Penn Squall II 30. Even though this is a versatile rod that can be used with many different reels, this combo balances well and has a ton of power.


  • Extremely strong backbone
  • Comfortable EVA Grips
  • 7-year warranty

Ugly Stik Tiger Elite rod review

4.4 Stars | 145 Angler Reviews

Ugly Stik Tiger Elite fishing rod

When we first got the Ugly Stik Tiger Elite, we didn’t think there was any way Ugly Stik could improve the original performance.

But, the added sensitivity and reduced weight make the Tige Elite an exceptional rod for casting, jigging, and kayak fishing.

From jigging for tuna to casting northern pike, the Tiger elite does it all. This model gives you a better idea of what’s happening underwater, helping you feel the difference between obstacles and fish strikes.


  • Re-designed graphite blank
  • Lightweight and sensitive design
  • Extremely strong backbone
  • 7-year warranty


To conclude, both models are exceptional saltwater fishing rods. The Ugly Stik Elite has more sensitivity and reduced weight.

However, not all anglers will benefit from these enhancements. If you’re looking to save money, the base-model Tiger rod has more than enough capabilities for most people.

The rods only have a price difference of $20, which isn’t much considering other comparable rods costs hundreds of dollars more.

Take your pick, and let us know what you think about the Tiger series! We love receiving feedback through our contact menu.

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