As anyone who knows anything about saltwater salmon trolling knows, Radiant Lures has been putting out hootchies since Noah trailed them off the back end of his tubby wooden boat. And they've been selling like salmon steaks since then.

Jack James has been Mr. Radiant, along with Fred Packford, since 1969 when they started tying Cowichan Bay coho bucktails. In 1975 it was time to move onto new products and the Radiant Hootchy was born. They struck a deal with the huge Mustad (fish hooks and many other things) company of Norway to make plastic skirts in the Philippines factory.

From an initial 12 colours, the line of squid-resembling lures has grown to seven different sizes from one inch Plankton squirts to eight inch Ditch Diggers and more than 200 colour combinations.

And that’s not all. Radiant has come up with a whole line of products from its Victoria digs, including: hooks, swivels, bead chains, snaps, Devil's Tail spoons (in 25 colours), trout flies, ultra-violet tubing, Hootchy Heads, herring jigs, Gun Barrels, double squirt skirts, Nose Rings, S1am Dunks (for steelhead, salmon and trout), lead ball molds (also used by cannon enthusiasts in the States to make, what else, cannon balls) and the venerable favourite of spin casters: the Wedding Band on which is adorned some trout candy - a worm.

Radiant products are distributed world wide including the U.S., Sweden, Australia, Mexico and into the tuna and sailfish market of the Caribbean and Pacific Ocean waters. Sailfish are so smart they will not bite anything with a line coming out of it. So, Radiant hootchies are trailed from kites so the only thing in the water is the lure. And, not seeing the line, the sailfish is on the line.

In 2006 two of Radiant's best sellers were the humble 75 lb bead chain and, in hootchies, the Apple Pie (green with stars and yellow stripes) which took the north coast commercial fleet by storm and should be remembered in Victoria for next summer. Another two winners this past summer were the ultra-violet bite guards that lure fish in the deep, and the J-79 hootchy that took the biggest salmon in Winter Harbour, a 60-pound spring.

The Gun Barrel is a small container you run behind a flasher (use the same leader length to your lure). Jack made the point that the reason WD 40 (actually started up in Victoria in the 1950s!) is used by some anglers to drench lures with is because the basis of the water repelling product was originally fish liver oil. Segue to 2006: you go to the pharmacy, pick up some cod liver oil pills and stuff a few in the Gun Barrel. As they dissolve, the oil seeps out and around the artificial lure you are trailing behind and, again, the fish is on the line.

Jack has some other interesting comments: in the 1970s two different colours of squid used to spawn in the Hall's Boat House area. One was white and ultra violet and the Sawluctus Island spawners were olive, but not ultra-violet and that is the basis of the success of the J-79 hootchy. Jack goes on to say that at depth - as deep at 300 feet – you should fish a Glow Below hootchy on one side and a white hootchy (doesn't glow) on the other. Whichever side gets the first bite tells you whether the deep baitfish are glow or not - switch both lures to the first bite colour.

Two other suggestions for Juan de Fuca fisheries are, again, the J-79, a squirt in Oak Bay, of course, and a new glow spoon that will be on the market soon. Its glow properties are so prominent they will glow, not for a few minutes but, all night long, and thus, if you can't catch a fish, you can hang one beside your bedroom light switch to find it in the dark.

Try also the six inch needlefish squirts, particularly the blue and glow combination and the black and white (commonly called the Cop Car) because to a fish, the contrast between the colours makes the silhouette slimmer and represents a baitfish lateral line.


D. C. Reid





Last modified December 26, 2012