There are a lot of great baitcasters on the market. And while Shimano, Abu, Daiwa and Lew’s are all top performers, there are also some great house-brand reels emerging from Bass Pro and Cabela’s. Of course, most house-brand reels are OEM designs from top-name reel manufacturers that are simply rebranded by the retailer. ‘Course, this can work in the angler’s favor—big bang, less buck. And as far as performance goes, many of these reels offer some pretty impressive features.
Case in point, Cabela’s new Verano BC, which is either a Daiwa, Okuma or Cabela’s own design. Regardless of the actual design origin, it’s a champ.
I had the chance to test the reel for a few days this past fall on Lower Niagara smallies, where it proved easy to control and smooth. No complaints. But it wasn’t until the same model reel was pulled out of Captain Frank Campbell’s rod locker for fishing big king salmon that the testing really began.
I was blown away by the reel’s performance when fighting kings up to 30 pounds in the wicked current just downstream from Niagara Falls. Again, the Verano is a low-profile baitcaster designed for bass fishing, not salmon. But the drag was smooth, smooth and the hand crank remained rigid under the force of big fish.
And if it can do that on fresh-run kings, it’s going to kick serious butt on green fish, whether deep cranking magnum-size baits or winching fish out of the salad.
The price tag? $149.99.
For that, you get a 6.9-ounce baitcaster with aluminum frame and sideplates, ported-aluminum spool for maximum strength and minimal weight, multidisc drag system and seven-point centrifugal cast-control with internal adjustment for optimized casts and hooksets.
The Verano also includes 11 bearings (10 ball bearings + 1 roller bearing), machined-aluminum handle with EVA knobs and lightweight zirconium line-guide inserts. Line capacity: 12/130 (mono). Available in 5.4:1 and 7.3:1 gear ratios for right- and left-handed anglers.
Want champagne baitcasting on a beer budget? The Verano bubbles pretty good.