Since Penn Fishing Reels was bought out a few years back, we knew there would be some changes made in their rods, reels, and rod and reel combo packages, like the 440SSg. Pure Fishing is now their owner, and they also own Shakespeare, the maker of Ugly Sticks. As a result, the “new” 440SSg combo is a Penn reel matched up with an Ugly Stick rod. You can find my full review of the rig at but here’s the basic low-down on the package.

The 440SSg is exactly what you expect from a gold/black Penn spinner: a graphite body, smooth operation and a smooth drag, and good longevity. An improvement over the old SS series is the elimination of kick-back, thanks to an infinite anti-reverse system. The reel goes for between $80 and $90.

The Ugly Stick is no different then those of years past – virtually indestructible, but a clunky, noodle-like all-glass rod with mediocre sensitivity and a slow action. A 6′6″ that’s matched with the Penn in the package deal costs around $50. So your total cost if you buy these two individually is $130 to $140. The package cost is $130. Hmmm…

The bottom line is that this reel out-classes the rod, IMHO. There’s little to no savings in going for the package deal and you’ll be able to find a higher level of rod (albeit at a higher cost) if you choose one on your own. Still, you’ll want to consider the combo if you’re looking for a tough rig you can hand off to a kid or an amature, without worrying they’ll snap off a tip or break it somehow, simply because that Ugly Stick is so darn invincible. That’s what I did – my daughter Mollie deserves quality gear and can handle a good spinner, but since any 12 year-old can be expected to break something now and again, it’s a perfect match… here’s the proof:

Mollie takes first fish, with the Penn/Ugly stick combo.

Mollie takes first fish, with the Penn/Ugly stick combo.