Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Trial of the Soft Clam

The Soft Clam in size 6

I have a handful of favorite flies that work pretty well most of the time. San Juan worms, trouser worms, carp carrots and soft hackles all do the trick in the waters I fish. So I got to thinking about a staple in the carp's diet that they eat in all the bottom types in the river, be it a rocky bottom or sandy bottom. That particular food is the freshwater clam. With that in mind I decided to tie a fly that combined elements of my favorites into one that imitates the fresh water clam. Hence the "Soft Clam" was born. I tied this fly in the headstand configuration to have the chenille tail ride up so it might look more like a clam's siphon gently waving in the current. I have no idea if a clam fly has been tied in this fashion before so if anyone has seen such a pattern please tell me. In the past I have tried clam patterns with little success so I wasn't quite sure how this one would do. So naturally I had to try it out.

Saturday 7/21/12

The forecast was for west winds of 7 mph but that was wrong. The sun was high and the river was glass on the flats. You would think that clear, still water would be ideal conditions for carping but in all actuality it is quite tough. I had numerous fish spook from just the slightest plop of the fly on the surface. Especially the biggest ones I casted to. Very frustrating. If anyone has a tip or two for very soft presentations of weighted flies for up to 40 foot casts please do tell. The fish seemed super wary and I had no luck sneaking in close. I did catch a few fish though and I used the soft clam for most of the day.

I caught this typical 10 lb. Columbia carp early in the day.

This was the biggest on the day. My scale said 7.2 kg. Hmm.

There were some of these guys around too.

So far the Soft Clam was successful on the cobble and gravel flats. I just wondered what it would do in different conditions.


Sunday 7/22/12

The trial of the Soft Clam continued on some sandy flats a little closer to home on Sunday. It was clear with a west wind of 5 mph which increased to about 15 by the end of the day. I was lucky that this flat was loaded with fish since my time was short. Surface ripple and a little cloudiness in the water allowed me to sneak up on carp. The soft clam got ate left and right. I caught several carp between 8 and 15 to include this mirror.

Mirror carp look so cool.

Another typical guy.

It was the end of the day, the wind was strong and I still hadn't caught a true fatty the whole weekend. A true fatty carp to me is a carp over 20 pounds. So I decided to pack it in and head for home. On my way to shore dozens of carp cruised through the whitecaps. None appeared to be true fatties so I walked on. While I was walking along the shoreline I saw a big black shape about 40 feet from shore. Could this be what I was looking for? So waded out cautiously until I could better make out what the shape was. When I got within about 20 feet I could see a tail the size of sycamore leaf. I maneuvered behind the fish through the waves until I was a rod length away. The soft clam settled near where the head was and big carp's body bowed concave in the direction of the fly. When the hook bit the carp shot straight up head first out of the water and then bolted through the waves like a missile snapping the tippet off while accelerating. I didn't even slow her down. I reeled in the rest of my line and waded out happy to have had a good weekend of carping.


  1. Love it. Let me know if you need additional field testers.

    1. Thanks man. I definitely think the fly could use some aadtional field testing.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Get ahold of Gregg. He worked up several sweet variations of the soft clam after the fly swap based on one of the flies. Dude is a fly picasso. I was going to try and get some for my trip out there but totally forgot.

    1. Great. It seems like I saw something like it somewhere withe chenille tail and different body material and hackle. Was that the one from the swap?

  4. Cool story and I love the pictures! McTage is too kind. I have however developed some soft clam, if that is what the carp perceive them as, imitations after a question posed by John M about the effectiveness of the SJW and it's red clam like foot. Here in SW Idaho we have freshwater mussels and one 15" trout a boy of mine caught and had to keep had 4 of them in it. I also believe nearly every Snake R. carp that noses down has a chance at them. So I tied variations on themes. I have poor access except to ponds and even there it can be limited so they have got no real tries with my "clams" but always carry them. Email me at if you'd like and I can share pictures.


  5. Sick fly and great blog-- keep us updated on further fly testing


  6. Thanks Brian! I have since found out that the design is not entirely original but my variation has been effective. Gregg (the author of the previous comment) tied an earlier version that he kindly shared information with me about it after seeing this post. John Montana of Carp on the Fly has also tried a version of this fly after seeing this post and slayed the carp with it. It could become one of my go-to patterns.

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