Re: What is important to you when buying gear?
Here are my three main points.
Long term performance - I want a reel that will perform the same now that it did when I first used it. I have saltwater reels that have been going strong for over 10 years.
Maintenance - I prefer reels that require some service other than rinsing them out after a long day fishing to make them last. If something goes wrong with them, I know that I have to take personal responsibility. I have seen some issues with some maintenance free reels.
Service - I also understand that I may have to send the reel in to the manufacturer for service. It's great to know that a bearing or any other part could be replaced even though the model has been discontinued.
Like others, I do not have a lot of disposable income, but I prefer top of the line equipment. If that means that I have to put in a few extra shifts at the second job or sell some other toys on eBay, I will do that. It is nice to know that I am buying what I want.