Loop wins out!
I went back to Bears Den again yesterday and cast the 10wt rods I was considering (Winston Boron IIx, Loomis CC GLX, Sage Xi2, Loop Opti Power, and Thomas and Thomas Horizon II). It was pretty clear after about a half-hour of casting that the Loop was the best for my casting style. For some reason, I cast most consistently with that rod, getting great tight loops and really good line speed on just about every cast. Only the Loomis was close in casting performance for me, but the Loomis was much bigger and heavier, which made the Loop an easy choice. All of these rods are very nice, and depending on your casting style and your size, you might like different ones. I'm relatively small (5"7") and not particularly strong, and so I tended to feel more comfortable with the smaller, lighter rods--the Winston and the Loop. The Winston has a very nice, sweet, smooth casting feel to it, but not quite the same power as the other rods. The Loomis and T&T both felt pretty beefy to me and would probably be the best rods for fighting big fish, but both also seemed like they might be tiring to cast and would be better for a bigger caster (the T&T, in particular, felt like it had great lifting power, while the Loomis was a real cannon for distance). The Sage (which is what I initially thought I'd buy) was also quite nice, as all Sage rods are, but I actually found the tip a bit more whippy and I had to be very careful not to overpower or underpower my cast even slightly to get a nice loop. The Sage was somewhere in the middle for power and lightness of feel. Overall, the Loop was impressive because of its unique combination of lightness and real power. It also is a very nicely finished rod, with a really neat reel seat and removable weights at the butt which you can adjust to balance the rod with the reel.
I matched the rod with a Hatch Plus 7 reel (nice simple design--maybe more of a 9 wt than 10 wt reel, but held 230+ yards of 30# backing with a 10 wt line) and ended up with three lines: Rio Clouser for the floater, a Wullf intermediate, and a Rio 400 grain sink tip.
Got a bit of a chance to cast with it in the surf yesterday--rod performed great in fishing conditions. Wind was only moderate yesterday, but the rod just fired line out into the surf. Unfortunately, I have no idea where or how to fish for stripers yet, so my casting was nice, but my fishing no good . . .
Only bummer was that I managed to drop the rod on the gravelly parking lot while removing the reel and got one or two small nicks and scratches in the finish (the rod literally sprung out of my hand as the reel came off--it loads up that easily!) I guess it was gonna get dinged up sooner or later, but I hate to see it happen on the first day!