Re: rookie needs some help
I'm fairly new as well, so take my advice for what it's worth....
I have an Elkhorn 4wt 9' that I love. It's a great rod for the money. At the risk of sounding cliche, everyone is different. How much you like a rod depends on so many different things, including casting style, type of casts in your repetoire, size of the water you're fishing, type/size of fish, type/size of flies, fly line, wind, etc... I think you're doing the right thing by going for a less expensive rod. This will help you figure out what you like before you spend the big bucks. I'm interested to see what other recommendations you get.