I first bought a Shakespeare WondeRod, but soon after upgraded to an Orvis Fullflex A Green Mountain 7-1/2' combo with an Orvis-marked Martin 67N.
Ended up handing the Fullflex combo down to my nephew, who put it to good use in CO.
Bought a few graphite rods in the 80s/90s, Powell Silver Creek 4-wt, Sage RPLX7 for the salt, and Fisher Sterling 5/6 combo.
September Russian River dolly - all alone, by 2-pm had caught 24 rainbows and dollies all this size - one every 3rd cast - and was fished out.
Had to kick salmon carcasses out of the way to step in, and the black slate bottom was pink with salmon eggs.
The Fisher made every Alaska trip. The combo has 2 handles, makes an 8'10" progressive 5-wt, and a 6'9" para 6-wt, which was my hill country warmwater rod.
I got jaded catching fish after fish on over-qualified rods with disc drags, wondering why I was harassing the fish and not enjoying it.
When I hooked up my first 20" rainbow in high flows on vintage cane and click pawl - and went oh, crap, what am I going to do now - I remembered why we do this in the first place.
You could also buy vintage blue-collar cane and excellent prewar click-pawl reels for half the cost of new graphite and disc drag.
For us using right-hand-wind, there was half a century of fantastic reels made just for us.
I bought this 1917 St. George for $500, fished it 4 years, and sold it for $1050, the exact cost of my T160 kayak.
You may note on FFR, I have a reputation repairing vintage reels and, especially converting postwar JW Youngs to LHW.
I've had other reels burn a hole in my pocket.
My Bougle MkIV cost $230 on harrissportsmail closeout (s/n 043), sold it after years of fishing for $625.
Similar with a beautiful c. 2000 L/E 3" St. George.
Ted Godfrey Westminster $450 new, later sold it for $750 after three price increases by Mr. Godfrey.
Went through a whole Martin collection - fly shops were selling out their OS inventory when ebay was young.
But my bread-and-butter reels were JW Young, both pre- and post-war.