Re: Best bang for the buck.
I'll get out on a limb and give exacts.
Sage is having specials across the internet. Just bought a 9' 8wt Vantage and it is great. I have a 9' 8# BVK but now prefer the Vantage (might watch for a BVK on classifieds soon) not a "fast" but still can handle distance. $180-200ish.
TFO's are fast, seems so may now pray at the "fast" alter. However issues arise, you casting skill has to be better and short casts suffer (if you redfish short cast accuracy & presentation can be a deal breaker). Used the Vantage on the coast the other day in 15mph winds. It gave up no distance to my BVK but was able to hit tigher pockets in the grass.
Best line you can afford, don't scrimp here, buy a cheaper reel rather than "saving" here. Often this is where "kits" really cheapen up. I suggest the SA Bonefish or Orvis Saltwater both are superbe. $80ish
Reel, IHMO way too much time is spent focused on these. Having said this the Lamson line-up has some good values, Guru at $225ish or even the Konic (some good sales on these out there) is a credible reel.
However back again to Sage which is specialling off the 2000 series for well below $200. Good reel at the price point. IMHO avoid "house" brand reels.
If you add this up you got money to possibly upgrade rod, buy an extra spool with line, lots of flies......................