I recently had someone reach out to say they were looking to get a new reel for their spouse’s beginner combo. While the specific reel question was more unique, I’m asked all of the time what would be a good upgrade when someone is ready to move on from their $99 starter combo. The short answer is, that if budget doesn’t allow for for a whole new combo, there IS a logical order of upgrade. If you have $100, upgrade your line. If you have $200-$250, upgrade your rod. If you have $350, upgrade rod and line. Only when you get past this budget does it really make sense to go for a new reel. And once you reach the $400 mark, don’t chuck your beginner combo. No. Instead, keep it as a back up, a different weight, or gift it to a friend or loved one you’d like to lure into the pastime. Oh, and one more thing before we dig in to some detail—all rod blanks have slightly different casting characteristics, so do yourself a favor and get somewhere you can cast any of rod you might be considering!