BLUEWATER MAG: Halco Laser Pro 190 XDD
Halco’s famous Laser Pro diving minnow range just got even better with the release of a new and improved deep-diving bib, the Laser Pro 190 XDD model. In the bluewater 190 size, this depth-probing mid to high-speed trolling lure is a deadly weapon for tuna and many gamefish species.
REVIEWED BY BLUEWATER MAG’S MATT GROSS
For almost six decades the Australian Halco Lure company has been synonymous with quality temptations for everything from bream to bluewater speedsters. These days they’re also a strong force on the international market, competing head to head and often beating industry giants like Rapala with a reputation for quality and continual refinement.
One of the first things that many long time anglers would note is how the quality of Halco’s paint and hardware has continued to improve, matching any international offering. The choice of Laser Pro colours extends to 31 different variations, all of which are proven winners, although the “White/Redhead” combination ranks up near the top for me.
The Laser Pro 190 is a 185mm minnow-style diving lure, making it an excellent mimic of any oceanic baitfish, including slimy mackerel, sardines and flying fish. This lure is an outstanding choice for subsurface predators, including tuna, wahoo, large mackerel, dolphinfish, yellowtail kingfish and many others. However, with its fixed hooks, it is not a lure designed for billfish.
This size Laser Pro comes armed with two Mustad 4/0 XXX-strength treble hooks, plus split rings that are 70% stronger than standard, a ‘Bulletproof’ polycarbonate bib, and hook anchoring and towing points that are built in as integral parts of the lure body. For use on heavier tackle, you can swap out the trebles for in-line single hooks. Lure designer Ben Patrick spent a lot of time and care perfecting the balance of these lures, giving them reliable swimming actions and towing speeds that far exceed competitors. In fact, his tests had this lure running up to 13 knots in calm conditions. However, as with the other bib options in the Laser Pro 190 series, Ben recommends a trolling speed of between 6 and 9 knots, making it perfect to slot in with a spread of skirted lures.
Ben also offered a golden insight, revealing that one of the critical considerations when attaching a leader to any bibbed lure is to keep the connection small and neat. While a short length of single strand wire with a small loop is ideal when chasing wahoo, mackerel and other toothy critters, if attaching heavy mono or cable to the tow-point ring, ensure you keep it tight to a crimp or use a slim knot. The turbulence created by something chunky like a Flemish eye loop or a snap-swivel sitting directly above the bib can destabilise the lure, significantly reducing its speed potential.
I have to say, my first impression of the new Laser Pro 190 XDD was that little had changed, with the exception of a new round bib. I would normally associate such a bib with a slow-moving freshwater lures, where the action required is a broad side to side wobble. This just goes to show how wrong first impressions can be! Once I put the new Laser Pro XDD out behind my boat I was incredibly surprised to find that its action was actually very tight. This is exactly the type of offshore baitfish shimmy that I have admired and found especially successful in this lure’s more shallow-running brothers.
Although listed with a six-metre diving depth, Halco’s tests with a 20kg leader found the lure to be capable of dives to at least seven metres. Heavier and lengthy leaders add more water drag and this reduce diving depth.
As those who bother with all the hassle of towing natural baits on a down rigger can attest, there are some very real benefits from trolling deep. This lure makes it easy when the fish are a kettle defers and at seven metres you are probing another segment of the water column. If you can position your lure down at the depth of the bait schools, the predators feeding on them are sure to end up with a mouthful of your hooks. This new Laser Pro has already accounted for tuna up to 96kg.
If you like to cast large stickbaits and poppers to surface-feeding fish, there’s no reason you can’t also cast these large Laser Pro minnows. With a tailwind they cast like a bullet, and their built-in action gets them rattling like grandma’s old Datsun on the retrieve.
The Halco Laser Pro 190 XDD really surprised me. Its action was far from what I’d expected considering the new bib. Positioning it beneath the prop wash will give you access to a very productive though rarely tapped strike zone. This is a great lure that will put a smile on any angler’s face – and put a feed on the table.