worth the $$
Spend the money on a really good rod and reel, it is well worth the money, it will mean the difference between a great day fishing or a lousy day fishing. Sage, Orvis or Thomas&Thomas rods and Tibor, Billy Pate reels. You'll dish out a wad of cash but you'll never regret it. A good rod will make the difference between a good cast and a great cast, and when you accidently hook that huge tarpon, your odds are greatly increased with good equipment.
At the very least get Redington rods and reels, Temple Forks rods a really decent, Scientific Anglers reels system 2 reels are really good but you have take VERY good care of them. Rinse, disassemble and clean everything immediately after you use them. Let the backing and line dry before storing.
No, I don't work for a tackle manufacturer.