Go to your local tackle shop and feel a combo. If you have a friend who has experience bring him/her along for advice. Think medium power/action and a decent drag ( about 15# is more than enough )
Bait start in mid march / consider the load of the sinker and bait when calculating the rod rating - maybe 2-4 oz
Plugs start in mid april / maybe 1- 3 oz
9-10ft rod is good.
Braided line at 30#, leaders are mono for starters.