This is a hard one. I'd want to stay cheap on budget too but I don't know of any newer budget spinning reels that would hold up.
The Penn Battle and Fierce are good reels but I've seen some become loose when abused on some pretty heavy stuff with the drags locked up. Heavy, like a whole salad bar of kelp with rocks attached. Then they are given away or sold dirt cheap to somebody who would take them. (Whistling looking up) lol
Them old Daiwas are tanks. All metal construction except the drag knob up front, anti reverse lever, and handle knob.
There is a learning curve casting conventionals so I see why people shy away from them.
Wow, not many people know about the gearing on the old Penn conventionals. That Penn 60 long beach main gear was also used in the 65, 150, 85, 285, squidders, 99 silver beach, 250, 259, 110, and more that I probably don't know about. The difference in speed are the different pinion gears that were used in tandem.
The jigmaster 500 main gear was also used in the 112H.
What? Is the old Penn conventional reel fiend showing? Lol