Re: Rod and reel for starting out
There are lots of choices but one reel you could start out with is this one at $99.
TFO makes several rod in your price range. They are not made in the USA but are quality rods with good actions and an awesome warranty. I use one all the time.
Like I said there are a gozillion choices out there but I believe you would enjoy this one. Others will have great advice as well.