Personally, I don't like braided line. It has no stretch, so it takes some serious getting used to when setting the hook. The upside is that it is more sensitive than flouro or mono. It also is harder on rods and reels than mono or flouro, and quite honestly I cant stand the way it sounds when fighting a fish. I use flouro on most of my rods, I only use mono for baits that I am constantly moving, like crankbaits, spinnerbaits, jerk baits, topwater, etc. Jigs and soft plastics(which I throw 75% of the time) are thrown on flouro. It sinks, which is nice considering the baits I fish with it do too. Also flouro has less stretch than mono, but more than braid. Another plus is that most flouro is thinner than same test mono. I fish 10 pound Seagar InvisX on all of my spinning rods. It is the same diameter as most 6 lb monos. As far as rods go, I like a longer rod. It picks up more line on hooksets, which is very helpful when fishing deep water or if you have to make a long hookset. It also helps with longer casts. In my younger days a 6'6" rod was long to me, now my shortest rod I fish is 6'6", most are 6'8" to 7'6". One reason rods have trended longer is the weight of the materials used has gotten less. I can pick up a 7 foot rod with newer technology that weighs less than a 6 foot rod of older technology. As far as good tips that help:
1. Downsizing your bait if nothing is hitting.
2. A lighter more sensitive rod will help you catch more fish. People that don't fish them will swear it makes no difference, but I have seen it too many times, if you let someone fish a newer technology rod over say, an Ugly Stick, they can't believe the difference.
3. Use natural colors on soft plastics and jigs. On soft plastics, if I can't catch fish on watermelon or green pumpkin, something is wrong. Browns and greens are my favorite jig colors as well.
4. Find wind blown banks when its windy. It sucks to handle the boat, but baitfish get washed into shore, and fish will follow.
5. When all else fails, throw a grub.