It helps a great deal if your reel is anodized, but I used a regular Pflueger Medalist in the salt water for many years and still use one occasionally
You just have to be diligent about keeping it clean and lubed.
I learned that the hard way of course, but it taught me well about taking care of my gear.
Sierra Trading Post has the SA System II 7/8 on sale. I have 3 of those reels and you wouldn't be disappointed.
A pair of my Medalists with custom drags