Do I need to consider maintenance in the choice? WOuld a spinning rod that is sealed be best for low maintenance?
You mean reel that is sealed - Even a sealed reel needs maintenance. (van staal makes an optional kit for maintanace. Out of budget range.)
First is the reel likely to get wet?
Is extreme distance casting a necessity?
Are you experienced with a multiplier type casting reel? (conventional)
If the answer to these questions are no I would advise somebody just getting started to purchase a shimano baitrunner reel for bait fishing. If you need a stick there are dozens to choose from as far as quality, but just for bait make sure its rated for medium heavy to heavy and can handle up to 8 ounces of weight and bait.
Stay away from the Wally world specials as the guides are inferior for braided lines.
Remember its productive water, terminal tackle and presentation that catches the fish.