1) Take a look at the Okuma SLV
. It is highly regarded as one of the best bang-for-buck reels out there. But you may want to do whatever it takes to "treat yourself" to one of the high-end jobs for your first gig. A couple decades from now, it might look good on the wall... or it might be a nice hand-me-down. Something to think about if you can squeeze the budget (pack a lunch, do without that beer, etc).
2) Weight-forward line can cast as well or better than dual taper provided that you have a good understanding of the physics involved. In short, you need to have mass focused near the tip of the fly rod so that you can properly load the rod with the energy required to cast the line. Dual taper used to be the only real good way to do this but, now, there is plenty of well-designed weight-forward lines that work as well or better. I recommend Scientific Anglers Headstart
. Basically, you just strip in the line until you feel the "bump", which is your signal to recast. This bump optimizes the positioning of the oversized head for recasting.
Unfortunately, the fly rod manufacturers are forced to cater down to the lowest common denominator - distance. If Rod X casts further than Rod Y, then Rod X will get the sale. This really sucks. To answer this, what most manufacturers have done is to simply rebadge all of their rods down a category (e.g. - the former 6 weight becomes a 5 weight, a 5 weight is now a 4 weight). This reduces flex for the rated line and allows a caster to achieve more distance at the expense of usability. The problem here is that beginners don't really get to feel the rod loading and unloading (you will hear the "broom stick" term, a lot). The Headstart line is a half size heavier to help emphasize loading and unloading. I believe that Rio also makes a line like this.
If you opt to go with a different line, then you might want to consider going a step higher in rated weight (i.e. - a 6wt line on your 5wt). You will learn the required physics a lot better this way. I'm new to the gig this year and I was having a hard time until I did this.