If you want to spend the money, I think the Sage ZXL is a great rod. You can still find them, but they new rods are becoming scarce. The 4wt is the best of the ZXL's, and I can cast Clouser minnows with it almost as easily as a #20 BWO. Whether a 4wt will cover your friend's fishing needs is something I don't know. The ZXL 5wt is fine, and casts with more authority. My wife uses both, but prefers the 4wt. Another good rod premium would be a Winston BIIIX. While I have not cast one, it's widely reported to be very easy to cast and fish with, both in close and further out.
My wife began fly fishing with a St. Croix Avid, and one of my Diamondback Aeroflex 5wt's. She did better with the faster Diamondback, but her casting improved instantly with a 5wt ZXL. I bought one for myself, and suggested that she try it. She didn't want to break my $675 rod (
), so resisted for about two weeks. She also balked at the idea of spending another $675 for a ZXL of her own, but after a few false casts, she smiled from ear to ear and told me to order another.