Most of us have preferences when it comes to fly reels and I find it fascinating as to the what, why, etc drives our choices. I know for instance that the fine reel comparisons that FlyfishAmerica used to feature aren't on the web any longer so no help there.
They did and in depth comparison looking at total drag available, start up inertia, minimum drag, drag design, cost and much more. I also was reading a bit, and if you prefer a results based comparison, here's one from the IGFA which shows that these are the tops when it comes to World Records. (1. Abel 2. Tibor 3. Tie between Ross and Orvis 5. Fin-nor 6. Tie between Lamson and Loop 8. Tie between Redington and Sage.) Of course that would be tilted a bit toward the heavier duty reels since records are involved.
So for discussion purposes let's divide reels into three categories or under 4 weight, 5-6 weight and 7-12 weight. My choices are in part based on value in the heavy weight category as a Tibor and Bauer have many similiarites but the Bauer is a better valued reel in my estimation and it rates lighter for nearly identical capacity. So Bauer is my first choice now that Old Florida is no longer turnign out their once superb reels. In that mid category, value still counts and the SA Sytem Two has a nice drag, very smooth, great capacity and will not break your bank. For the lightweight category I have a bit of two worlds a P-1 from Waterworks, a pricey little delight and a Simple Click Pawl in a their dimunative smallest size from RimFly.
I do favor cork, drawbar drags as do many fishing the salt and will change to other drags as needed for fresh (the fish just are not as hot) and as I go lighter with my outfit.
What's your delight in each category and what was the primary factors driving your decision?