Go for the 990rplxi which he already knows he really likes, and many of us can attest to being a great, sweet rod.
Buy an inexpensive orvis battenkill 10/11 reel for $135 to get through this year, and ask for a better (and specific!) reel for christmas.
I've even got a spare 10/11 spool that i'll mail for free if he wants it.
The 10/11 battenkill served me for years until it flew off the top of my truck with my 990rpl - yeah, i know, i actually always used to clamp it in the windshield wipers until i was ready to break it down, but not this time!
My only criticism of the battenkill is that in a crashing surf it gets sand in the little gear inside and can lock up on you at the moment a fish is trying to head for portugal - you furiously try dunking it in the water and forcing the rim to move, until the inevitable breakoff - this didn't happen a lot, but it does happen.
The sweetness and satisfaction of the rod, however, should override this temporary concern until a new reel fits into the budget, and if you're not standing in a crashing surf, it may never be a problem.