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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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