Re: First rod advice
Get something you'll like and use. And you will use it, especially once you get used to the way it shines in the sunlight, and knowing you did this yourself!!
My first was a StCroix, bought all the parts separate, took my time, followed instructions (at least the ones I wanted to follow!), and had a ball. OK ... panic happened only a few times. That's when you walk away till your heart rate returns to normal ... then start again! NOTHING you put on is forever. You can change anything and everything however many times you feel the need to. All these many years later, I still use that rod, and love it! Have built scores since then, but always fall back to what I learned on that one.