Mean Gene, Welcome to the wonderful world of rod building. My 1st rod, a 5wt is spinning away behind me as I type this. I cannot offer any expert advice but I can tell you what I went with.
Check out the articles
on the rod rack section of the site. Actually the site is pretty slim at the moment but there are several rod projects in progress. I went with a hook and hackle blank as a way to save cash, figuring I might make a few mistakes on the first rod. Everything went pretty smoothly and I'll probably go with a St. Croix ultra ledgend for the 7wt I'm building next. I got some advice from a couple of shops in the area here and feel I should give them my future business. I have bought other items from Hook and Hackle
in the past and they have been good to deal with and delivered as advertised, maybe something to check out. Someone else on this board said you should probably build the rod you want to own in the end. That's sound advice.