Unless you will be building the rod in a shop with the close supervision of experienced builders, or are extremely talented and confident of your abilities, I would urge you to consider building your first rod on the cheapest blank you can find. There are a few websites around that specialize in discontinued blanks (D&E Rods) or blem blanks sold by the foot ($4/ft - JJ King). I've built about 20 rods thus far, mostly for myself, and built them all at home after having rented a video and read a Clemens book. My first couple of rods, while not bad - are nowhere near the quality of my later rods. During the learning process I picked up some very inexpensive blem blanks in the $25 to $40 range, two of which are now my favorite rods. So just because its a blem blank doesn't mean its inferior junk.
If you are planning on spending a good chunk of change on t top of the line rod from a premium manufacturer, you are going to have much higher expectations for how you want the finished product to look. Its often difficult to meet those expectations on your very first project.
Good luck to you!