Re: What do I really need in a fly reel?
My experience with Ross is limited to the Evolution LT so I can't directly comment on the Flystart's durability. What I can say is that I'm nearly certain the Lamson's up to a point all use the same drag system. If memory serves me, the larger game drags were slightly different and the newest Lamsons may also differ. The drag on the on the Lamsons that I fished performed flawlessly for trout and Lake Run Steelhead. FWIW, the Evolution LT is a fine reel in its own right.
If you have concerns or reservations about it now, it's best to take the time and get what you want.
As another option, the Galvan Rush 4 or 5 are just a little above your price range of the Guru but I'm confident you won't have reservations or problems with the drag in a Galvan.
~*~Leave only your footprints~*~