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I mostly fish 1-3 1/2oz swimbaits, pencils, and metal. I am looking for an affordable setup for next season. I am thinking a 8' or 9' rod and maybe a shimano or daiwa reel. Does anyone have any suggestions, I am looking to keep my budget under $250 for both.
 

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Sluggerocchi. welcome.
affordable setup for next season.
Theres probably a thousand threads on this alone. And everyone likes something different.
For throwing pencils you need a softer tip.
Assuming you want a spinning outfit.
Lets narrow it down a bit.
8 to 9 foot. rod. 1 to 3 1/2 oz - the reel needs to be balanced with the rod. I would say something less than 20 ounce category. Maybe a baitrunner 3500 at 19.8 0z. If your not looking to get it wet and you want it versatile enough for light boat duty and dead sticking with. That set up is 200 bucks.
The tica dolphin surf rod series arent too bad for short cash. ~ 100.
The tsunami trophies are ok too. $ 50 to $ 75. These are better than the low end shimano or penn rods.

The Bass pro offshore Ocean Master surf rod is about $120 or so and gets good reviews.
But its like everything else. What do you like and what are you comfortable with?
For a $100 extra you can upgrade to Gloomis, lamiglas or St. Croix.

Reels --- I like to go as light as possible (not a piece of chit) if Im making a lot of casts. But my favorite reel besides the Van staal is the penn 704Z series that are discontinued.
You might still be able to grab one on ebay for less than 100. But its heavier... fits better with 10 or 11 foot rods. 24 ounces i think.

There are dozens of good quaility reels to choose from and everyone likes something different.
 

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The new Abu Cardinal series spinners are pretty nice and go for under 150 clams. I've been beating on the 870 for the past year and am very happy with it, especially for jigging the rivers. If you're going to be dunking it in sandy waves it may not be the best choice though, then I'd look at the 704 for a 9 to 10' rod.
There are a lot of choices in rods, the Tsunamis seem to be pretty popular. Stay away from anything in Walmart or Kmart.
 

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From the surf I use 10'ers. A reel I recommend, and only because it is reliable, is the Penn 650ssm.
Now the rods are many, something by Tica, or a St. Croix Triumph rod are all decent.
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