Welcome to the board!
I'm north of you in Atchison, KS. The fishing is similar here. Let's hear it for bass and bluegills!
I'm close to buying one of Cabela's rods--probably a Three Forks, given my limited budget. There's a general consensus on the various fly fishing web boards i follow that Cabela's rods are a good value for the money.
I understand they use the pond at the KC store for test casts, though get that secondhand. It's worth asking about before you pay any cash. by the way, the folks in the flyshop have always been extremely helpful and courteous. I've found a good way to learn flyfishing is to browse the place (fun in itself) and eavesdrop as they work with other customers, particularly beginners or people who are branching out. With the volume of business, there's inevitably a customer like that in the place, and the explanations and recommendations are a goldmine.