Doug... There's a lot of info here and everyone has a personal preference. And there are newer stuff coming out on a regular basis. Here's my suggestion. Build a couple of spread sheets. One with reel and one with rods. On your next trip, rent your gear, and ask the passengers what there go to outfit is (most guys will have at least two with them). Then ask if you can borrow it for few hours and pull on some fish. Definitely tell them what you are up to. See how you like it and make plenty of notes and a point scale... (like the chicks you rate or something of that nature). BTW then buy a round of something to thank them for letting you touch there stuff. Once you have one or two or maybe three. then do you price comparison, reliability, etc.