Re: Introductory Rod for a beginner..
I'd just look into a starter outfit at your local sporting goods store. Temple fork outfitters makes a decent one, as does St. Croix. Redington also makes decent starter kits, and they even come with Rio line. I have a couple cheapo Pfleuger 5 weight rods that actually cast very well considering they were like $40 a piece. They don't always cast in a perfectly straight line, but I can get out a good 60-70ft cast with relatively little effort, and I've landed hundreds of fish on them (even hooked an angry summer steelhead on one). The build quality isn't great, mostly plastic and stainless steel guides, but the action is nice. My dad has a couple "Yellowstone" cheapo's too, and they are much stiffer and more challenging to cast (actually, quite difficult). The blank is visibly thicker considering they are the same weight, so make sure and give them a good waggle and make sure they have some give to them.
You'd probably want a 5/6 weight for the most versatility. A 6 weight is probably the smallest you want to go for a largemouth or carp. Look for something with a medium-fast action.