Originally Posted by biggie_robs
St. Croix Legend Elite.
Islander or Bauer reel.
Worth looking into.
Haven't cast the Legend Elite myself, but based on its reputation that's where I'd start looking in your price range. I'd also try the TFO BVK and the Orvis Access.
The Islander and Bauer are Ferrari reels at Ferrari prices. If your looking for a tough Jeep that can go almost anywhere, have a look at the Orvis Hydros reel instead. (Unlike kc8qvo above, I think the even less expensive Access reel might be a good choice too, especially if you prefer a mid-arbor with more backing capacity, but the Hydros probably has a better drag system if you're going to give it a lot of hard use.)