Choosing a Fishing Rod
To choose a fishing rod you'll first want to consider the fish you are targeting. If you are targeting trout, pan fish or other small fish species, you'll want a small fishing rod in the 5 to 6 foot range. The rob should also be thinner in diameter and be somewhat flexible so you can feel when these smaller fish are biting. You'll obviously want a longer and thicker diameter rod if you are fishing for catfish, salmon or other larger fish.
Choosing a Reel
An ideal reel will properly fit your rod. You won't want a large reel on a tiny rod or a small reel on a larger rod. The reel should feel pretty balanced on the rod. You'll feel more comfortable and have a better experience with the right rod and reel combination.
For more helpful fishing how to information check out these links:
How to Choose a Lure for Trout Fishing
How to Set Up a Fishing Pole
Rod and Reel Maintenance
Fishing Gear Buying Guide