My advice: look at the Galvan T-6 and T-8. Galvan has a big west coast following but does little marketing so (from what I'm told) has not made much of a splash elsewhere. After using reels from Okuma, Orvis, Teton, Ross, Lamson, etc. I have shuttled all of my mid-sized stuff for Galvans (note: my big tarpon reel is still a venerable Billy Pate). Attractive, great fit and finish, wonderfully strong sealed drag systems and they're a family owned outfit that stands behind their gear. A smidge heavier than some models but not enough to matter. If you're on a budget you can find them used on Flea Bay or on Craigslist from time to time.
I split my time between light spin tackle and fly so I'm not as seasoned as some committed long-rodders, but in my experience the Galvans will perform on par with "elite" reels sporting out-to-lunch price tags. Tip: if you choose the T-6, call Galvan and order the larger (more comfortable) T-8 handle. Oh, and if you chase bones consider Micron or braid backing to stretch the spool's capacity a bit. Enjoy.