A number of years ago I decided to go conventional also.
My choice at the time was the then available 10 ft, Ben Dooer Surf System rod from St. Croix.
I topped this rod with a Penn 310 and have had great success with it over the years on the Delaware and Maryland beaches.
This fall, I bought a 9ft. Tica conventional and installed an Ambassadeur 6500C3 bait caster.
This has turned out to be a super combo in many respects including landing 10-12 # Blues in a recent surf blitz.
I.M.O. Tica rods are as good/ better than St. Croix's at 1/3 the price and of course, the Ambassadeur reels speak for themselves.