When you say your limit is $140, is that just for the rod and reel?
Redington and Cabelas are good places to start, though I'm always a bit anti-megahugestores so I wouldn't get the Cabelas rod even though there stuff is great quality. I highly recommend you look at a St Croix setup. Cortland also has some great entry level setups.
For panfish and bass, I'd get a 9 ft 6 wt rod. That will still make the panfish fun, but have enough backbone to cast larger bass flies.
My passion for catching fish is eclipsed only by the fish's passion not to be caught.