Re: Reel advice
The sage 1800 is a good reel, but here's what I generally think of reels on sale that are otherwise out of your price rang: While you may get the reel at a once offered discount price, the spools will most likely not be discounted, and will probably come close to the sale price of the reel. This means that if you want that to be a primary reel, and you plan on eventually buying multiple spools, you will be paying for that reel full price multiple times over in the end.
PERSONALLY, I am more confortable buying a full price reel inside my budget and knowing that multiple spools will later be in my budget as well.
And YES, $400 can absolutely get you a great bass setup. I would look at some of the TFO or Echo rods. The Echo Ion reels might be nice matches as well. If you aren't looking to go pro, you can skimp a little on the line (some might disagree). I would say get a line around $30-45. Just pick up some spools of 16lb and 12lb tippet to make leaders and tippet. Nothing fancy needed for bass, that's the great part about them.