Where and when I grew up I never saw any of the custom built reels, it was a Pflueger environment you could say. I made a tremendous leap to an exotic in 1978 when I bought my Hardy Featherweight. Since I caught so many trout using that reel I'd have to say it's a favorite. I also have a Princess I got in the late 80's for a six weight cane rod that I like a lot.
Featherweight and my 1979 Far & Fine #5
I still have one CFO reel that has seen some use but the Hardy reels are the go to for trout on small streams here.