Re: upgrading my 4wt reel, Lamson Konic or Cortland Retro?
You may also want to check out the Allen Trout. I use the Allen Trout I on my 2/3 and 4wt rods and it's a great balance. As a reel with more modern styling it doesn't have the traditional looks of the Cortland Retro (which is a great looking reel), but it performs very well and is highly recommended by many people on the forum (myself included). The warranty and customer service from Allen are both great, and most importantly, it's on sale right now so will bring you in well under your price point. And as far as leaning toward the Lamson due to the sealed drag, I've fished the Allen Trout II in saltwater for weeks on end and not had any problems with the inner workings from salt build-up or anything. The reel has seen quite a bit of abuse but stays smooth and functions well. Just another option to make your choice more difficult (but the price right now is hard to beat!).
Working out a way to convince my university to allow me to hold my TA office hours on the nearby creek...