I am totally new to fishing and after months of deciding and debating on the best rod and reel combo for a starter I finally got myself an UglyStik paired with the Okuma Epixor-65 mainly for Surf fishing.
I may not be as experienced as the others here .... but I am very satisfied with its performance in our surf conditions. Casts well, gets the distance and above all takes a beating being handed out by a newbie.
BTW, I did read somewhere that Okuma customer service is top-notch and many people abroad on other forums did go on record saying that their defective reels were replaced in record time. I'm not sure how we can manage that from India ... but just to let you know.
Here's one piece of advice given to Maruthu on another forum when he was trying to help me choose a rod and reel. I guess it pretty much helped me make up my mind
Take my advice...
I'm the head of the outdoors department at The Sports Authority in Paramus, NJ. I don't care where you buy it, but if I were you i would buy an okuma epixor 65 ($70) and match it with a 10" Ugly Stik. ($60). Being that your friend isn't a very experienced fisherman, i would reccomend the ugly stik because it can take a beating. The reason i wouldn't go with a Shimano baitrunner is because it has the baitrunner mode which will confuse the hell outta your friend. Also, stay away from all penn SSm series reels because they are made in China. The Okuma is made in China, but it is a lot less $$ and is as durable and strong as the Penn. Plus it has 10BB vs. the Penn which has 5. Also, don't spool up with 25lb mono; that's too heavy. Go with 20lb. Ande or Berkley big game and then use either 50lb. or 80lb. leader depending on the bait you are using. If using bunker use 80lb. (you will catch a lot of bluefish, which cut thinner line). If using clams or worms, use the 50lb. Also, you don't need flourocarbon, but it helps. Take my advice; i do this for a living and have a lot of insider info on products.