I've certainly used a variety of cheaper rods & reels over the years, and some I recall that were a very good value.
Bought two Shimano FX spinning rods for two of my sons, with reels, but don't recall that the reels were Shimano. They may have been, but don't remember. I paid $20 for each outfit, and we caught a lot of fish with them. I liked them enough that they were my primary bass rods for a lot of years for lighter lures.
I also have several of the Daiwa Beefstick rods, bought primarily for surf fishing when we vacationed on the coast. I usually supplied the fishing gear for family who went along, and those rods are tanks. I never had to worry about them getting broken. Fiberglass and heavy, under $30, and still use them. I have them from 8' to 12'. I also used them for tossing large wood lures for Striped Bass.
The last cheap, but great purchase rod I've made was a 7' Shakespeare Micro Series Fly Rod. The retail price was $20, not marked down. The length and price are the main reason I bought it. It's rated for 4/5 weight line, so I added a cheap DT 4F line, and had a reel, a Cortland Rimfly, which are not expensive reels when they were still being made. I may have $50-$60 in the whole setup, and it's been a fun little outfit to pester the panfish around here with, even more than a couple of custom fly rods I have.
My bass rods are mostly BPS Extreme, older rods now, and some in the Woo Daves series. $100 rods so not really high end, but for me have been a good buy. They're probably 20 years old now.