There's nothing more vexing than fishing equipment that simply isn't up to snuff. Such equipment is almost guaranteed to break when you need it most when you've got a champion fish on the line. It is not uncommon to get "adequate" equipment when you first start out, but somewhere down the line, you'll want to get some real, grown-up gear that you can rely upon. But where to start?
For starters, there are a few things you'll be replacing on a regular schedule, anyhow. Line, for instance, should be changed every year or two. In fact, most experts recommend changing out all your leaders and nylon rigs every year, since their integrity is so very important. Metal leads are good for several years, but should be replaced at the very first sign of wear. As you have the finances to do so, consider replacing cheaper "consumables" with better quality replacements. The same is true of flies and lures, though most people collect these over a lifetime, anyhow.
Better quality fishing equipment doesn't always mean "more expensive," but it's often the case. As with most other commodities or goods, there will be a mid- to high-priced unit that is of the highest possible quality but, without all the bells and whistles of a "luxury" item. In short, that's what you're looking for. A bunch of extras are just more stuff that can go wrong in the future.
Due to the globalization boom of the late 20th century, many in the UK have grown accustomed to inexpensive imports, including fishing equipment. While imported goods from other European countries were once assumed to be of high-quality, imports from both the EU and the rest of the world are now suspected. This is very often the case with many cheap consumer goods from the developing world. Always check the country of origin to give you an idea as to the build quality of any item, but don't stop there.
You can learn a lot about the quality of fishing equipment by just giving it a feel. Items that are lacking in basic materials will feel, "cheap." Perhaps the composite alloy finish on a reel is merely an overlay covering up base metal the difference will be apparent. Just because a rod looks as if it could be made of high-density carbon fibres, doesn't mean the one you found for 10 quid is even going to stand up to normal use. Knock off goods can be either too heavy or too light.
Also, look for long-standing brand names. Check to see if there's a warranty ? this is especially important with rods and reels. The best manufacturers stand behind their products for many years at a time. It's sometimes good to give up some of your ideal features to get a sturdy product that does all the basics, well.