Go to your local tackle dealers. Take a look at the Grauvell range, these long continental style rods with f/s reels seem to be gaining popularity over here. I am thinking about getting a K2 Metal series or a new century 16 footer. the reels i am looking at are the Daiwa Emblem 5500, Shimano Biomaster, Grauvell Tuareg and Shakespeare Powerplay FD7000. Although these bits of kit are not cheap i think they are satisfying to use, and apparenlty also can add yards onto your casting. I hope this helps you , but in all honesty i am as keen to hear others responces as you are mate.
if your just starting out you will find the best rod and reel combo
is the one in your hand!
dont worry to much about spending loads of cash, if somthing is classed as a sea reel it probly works, if somthing is classed as a beachcaster it probly works
and you will still catch fish! its not the tackle its the man behind it!
my best combo is a abu 6500 c3 and a penn bass powergraph
not eveyones tast but its genraly the "rod in my hand" so therfore my favorite!
if your starting out go for one of the cheapy combos! get some fishing
in and upgrade as you work out what is right for you!
then you will know exactly what you wont and be confident in spending some cash! and you can always youse the combo as a second rod or have it as a guest rod and get one of your mates out the pub and on the beach!