HI Guys, just a few cents from me:
I met Adhek Amertha of Bali, last year. He's a well-known charter operator there, for mega GT bashing. Pak Adhek's GT poppers are now world famous. He swears by only two reels: the Saltiga and Stella. He's literally wrecked the others, including Safari and my favourite Spinfishers.
Reels for mere mortals (us!):
For extreme river fishing (jungle, rocks, timber, hard-headed mahseer!), I think the workhorses would be the Spinfishers (US made only), PennSlammers/Liveliners (yes, US only), Daiwa BG (Japan or Thailand), Finnow Ahab (#8 to #20, US only). They are heavy, and are thus suited more for bait-fishing. They are bullet-proof machines. The Ahab's drag is super smooth, even though it's only a piece of cork!
For casting lures: My favs are Daiwa Caldia Kix, Shimano Twinpower, Stradic, Technium. These reels lighter, drags are smooth and strong. You can cast lures all day. The Kix is especially light, and has survived three years of jungle river trips.
I normally go for mid-range or higher. You cant tell when that fish-of-a-lifetime's gonna take your lure, so your tackle better be up to it!
Still, I've had a few that went beyond their price tag: Sedona, Sahara, and Banax GT. I used a Banax GT 5000 on scores of mekong cats, testing my tackle to the limits. The angler lost...I needed Thai massage after that torrid weekend!
The old Sedona did very well too. I hooked a large spotted ray and played it for an hour (on 6-lb line, arrgh!). The reel 'sang' for all that time, as if nothing happened. It has my deep respect!
Hope this helps!