Re: What do I really need in a fly reel?
The "real" Ross Reels like the very fine Evolution LT are not to be confused with the Ross Worldwide low-end imported products. I don't have one but we have a few older Ross reels and they are very solid, quality reels. We also have some old Lamsons, pre Waterworks acquisition of the brand name that are very serviceable if not elegant. And, as others have said, Allen Trout II's are good looking and highly regarded.
There are plenty of very serviceable Korean made reels under assorted brand names like Redington and Albright that get the job done. There is just no reason to settle for fundamental design flaws when there is such a proliferation of reels out there. If we were talking about saltwater flats reels then we are down to a much smaller assortment of reels but for a 5-weight trout rod, I am more concerned about tuned balance and aesthetics and have pretty much settled on the reasonably priced Hardy Ultralite DD's and Nautilus FWX's though I am going to experiment on another maker soon.