Great question and you will get as many answers as there are stars in the sky but the first question you should ask is what type and size rivers are you fishing, what are the average size of the fish you will be catching, how much do I want to spend and do I want to use a bait casting or spinning set up? On most of the rivers I fish from fall through early spring my basic set up is a 10'6" Cabela's Fish Eagle II it is rated as medium action and 8-14lb line. I match it with an ancient Penn Spinfisher Z. I have 2 identical set ups one spooled with 20 lb power pro the other with 30 lb power pro (mostly for spring and fall kings and high water fishing for late spring natives). I can easily throw 1/4-1/2 oz. jig/float combos with the 20 and from 3/8-3/4 oz jig/float combos with the 30. However, when it's freezing I use my old Mitchell 300's spooled with 15 lb. mono since it doesn't freeze to the spool but it does cut down on the length of drift I am able to effectively control since it sinks. But as spring greenery begins to bloom and the rivers drop I start running out of casting room so I commonly go to rods as short as 7' just to fit the conditions I face. As for bobber stops I've beenl using the same spool of 30 lb. dacron for more years than I can remember. Carefully tie a 9 turn Uni-knot so it seats evenly and leave about 1/2 inch tag on each end so you can tighten it when necessary and it slides through my guides easily.