Welcome Maine-iac. Love the handle...
As you can see in my profile, I am new here too. I have a subscription my brother in law got me for Christmas to Fly Rod & Reel. I like the articles... (except for having Turd Turner named fly-fisherman of the year for 01)
Don't know much about the one you have though, sorry.
For your casting problem, I had the same thing with the rod my grandfather gave me to start. It went away when I got a new full-flex Orvis rod (5 rating). Now I have a lot more control over my casts, don't get those snags and I have been able to figure out how to get the fly more than 5 yards away from me.