Re: Drag style, material and rating factors?
It's time I joined in this thread, I'm actually pretty simple when it comes to reels. Over time I've learned what works and once I found these things I stuck with them.
Light = CFO & Hardy spring and pawl reels. These have been the most reliable because I know exactly what to expect. There are no corks, gears or other parts that can malfunction so they are favorites. I also use an old Cortland LTD Graphite #60 that has a mechanical disc drag on light rods sometimes.
Heavy = I've went through a bunch of reels looking for the 'just right' one for salmon fishing. I bought a Hardy Cascapedia 8/9 made in England that has been the best drag I ever used. There are a couple Orvis Odyssey reels (cork draw types and now a Vortex 11/12 that will be tested this season. The odyssey reels are good so I suspect the Vortex will be good.
I did buy a Tibor Billy Pate Marlin to use here but found that there are 'no parts available' for this reel any more. The reel was discontinued 6 years ago and they do not have any replacement parts for them. This was enough to convince me to stick with my Orvis and Hardy reels. Whether we talk about my 1978 Hardy Featherweight or the 1998 Orvis Odyssey IV, both of these companies have provided any part that I have ever needed. Although you may not consider availability of parts a factor when buying a reel, if you happen to keep that reel for a few decades it's nice to know that you can fix it when the time comes.
My advice for anyone who wants their reels to remain in tip top condition is as follows. Treat your reels like they were expensive; I can buy a new sewing machine for less money than a fly reel and a sewing machine seems to have a lot more moving parts. Although a fly reel is fairly simple by design they are quite expensive when compared to some other items you may consider buying. Don't beat a reel around in a boat whether it is a guides boat or your own. Don't get in the habit of dunking them into rivers or tossing them onto the ground just for the sake of taking a fish picture. Treat the reels like they cost between 200 - 800 dollars and whatever brand they are they will give you long and trouble free service. If you take care of a good reel they retain (in some cases) their original sale value even after 10 or more years but if you beat the snot out of them they aren't worth much....................