I have only been fishing for a few years, however I feel head long into the hobby and did a heck of a lot of research before I bought my first good rod. I tested multiple brands but for me it was Orvis who took the cake. I picked the Clearwater II 905-4 Mid 7.5. Its a 9' 4 piece 5wt rod and it casts like a gem. It is a very reasonable price so you could get a Orvis Battenkill Bar stock reel to go with it. They compliment each other very well. I use it in the Smokies and it never lets me down. I also have caught a couple 3lb large mouth bass on it as well and it performs great.