I fish primarily up in WNC and have a 7.5 ft 3wt for the small streams and a 9ft 5wt. I had the 9ft 5wt and used it primarily for about 2 years. You should be fine with that. There are however two different types of fishing that might call for different rods. If you're fishing up in the tight mtn streams a short and lighter rod is more practical and fun. However, because you want to fish in a pond to, again I would say stick with a 9ft 5wt. I would highly recommend going to a fly shop and let them fit you in your budget. Also check out "Carolinas on the Fly" forum. Tons of good local info that will be very applicable to you.