Re: Best reel
There are a few very fine sealed drag salt water reels but Hatch, Nautilus NV, Tibor Signature and Hardy Fortuna X cost significantly more than the poster hopes to spend. However, I agree with the above posts that point out that Abel, Tibor and Islander reels are beloved by salts for good reason; their performance is beyond reproach and they are easily user maintainable.
I like to point out that we lost a Space Shuttle once due to a faulty (very costly) "O" ring...a sealed drag that fails is done, a draw-bar reel that becomes contaminated gets taken apart, rinsed out, put back together and is back in service right away. I do not intend to denigrate in any way the above high quality and innovative sealed drag reels and I have fished several of them with great results. Beware though of large sized trout reels being marketed as salt water reels, rarely is the design transferable.