If you really mean "top notch", then look at the Shimano Stradic reels on up. Otherwise, for a good bang/buck ratio, I vote for the Shimano Symetre.
I like St Croix rods as well, and use two different Premiers. a 5'6" UL and 6'6" L. All though if I were really thinking "top notch", I'd be looking at the St Croix Avid or Legend series. G Loomis would also be on the table.
Looking at the low end of "top notch" you'd be out about $200 for a Symetre/Premier combination. High end - over a grand for a Shimano Stella/Loomis GLX reel/rod outfit.
My personal outfit that I use for light bass/panfish, is the St Croix Premier 6'6" Light, 2 piece (for travel) combined with either a Symetre 2500 reel for bass, or a Symetre 500 reel for panfish. I've caught 8 lb carp on that setup. as well as was casting small Clouser flies (less than 1/32 oz) on 2 lb line to White Bass. In absolutely no way do I feel like I need
more. Want, on the other hand, has me lusting after a Stradic/Avid combo