September 23, 2008

'Darth Clam', aka, the Roughfisher Foam Clam (RFC)

I've been told my naming of the roughfisher foam clam is generic and lackluster, not deserving of the pattern's awesome power. Anything with the word or connotation of "death" will sell this fly, I'm told. So why not rename the fly with a slightly less generic name like the 'Darth Clam'. Yes, Star Wars analogies have been played and overplayed till they no longer hold much stock. However, this pattern has thus far proved it is worthy of holding the rank of 'Darth', and it quite the adversary to unsuspecting fish. I realize I don't have to share my secrets of this pattern and the uncovering of the missing link in big fish diets. But like I mentioned in a post from a few months back,

"[my] journey is to shed light, and not to master."

First we start by assembling the required materials: size 6 salt hooks, 6/0 UNI thread, 6mm gunmetal beads, furry foam, chenille, and a lighter.

Start by debarbing the hooks and threading the 4mm beads on to the shank. Some of the gapes may need to be opened slightly to accommodate the bead along the hook bend.

Next, cut out a small foam rectangle, approximately the size of your thumbnail. Fold foam in half on the short axis and trim the corners back. This will make tying in the foam a lot easier.

An easy way to thread the chenille through the foam is to stick an inch long piece of chenille through a hook eye. In this case I used a size 2 Mustad 34007 hook.

Insert the hook point through the middle of the foam and pull through.

Pull the hook along the bend and shank and up to the eye. Pull the eye of the hook through the hole in the foam, making sure to hold on to one piece of the chenille.

The chenille should now be threaded through the hole in the middle of the foam. Remove the hook from the chenille.

Take a beaded hook and thread the foam rectangle on to the hook shank through the hole in the middle. Place the hook in the vise and thread the tag end of the chenille through the gunmetal bead on the hook shank.

Tie in the thread on to the hook shank approximately a third of the way back. Tie in the chenille and do a couple of half hitches to secure the chenille.

Grab one end of the foam and tie in to the hook shank where the chenille was tied in. Carefully twist the foam that was tied in, so that it is on the bottom of the hook shank.

Grab the other end of the foam and pull taut over the gunmetal bead. Tie in securely to the hook shank, forming the clam body. Tie in a couple of half hitches to secure the body.

Build up a tapered "head" on the clam.

Whip finish, cut off, and coat the thread wraps with head cement. Burn the end of the chenille with the lighter. Be careful not to get too gung ho with the lighter, or you'll end up with a ball of burnt and melted hydrocarbons.

A newly tied Darth Clam fly pattern

I tied up a few different variations to experiment with. The Clam Before The Storm pattern was tied with lighter colored furry foam and colored in with marker. I tied a couple flies in tan and colored some with brown sharpie marker. I'll compare the success of these variations with my original foam clam pattern.

I also wanted to experiment with trying to recreate a mussel's foot protruding from the edge of the valves. A material like marabou would be nice and breathable underwater and would probably more likely resemble a natural foot than most synthetic materials. The durability of marabou is not as superior as many synthetic textiles, however, and I faced another problem; how to tie it in to the pattern and making appear lifelike. One of my attempts involved antron yarn, the other involved dubbing.

Both variations may work; it's even possible that the marker colored clam may more effectively resemble a real clam foot. However, is the foot even relevant to the pattern? Obviously fish were taking the original version, without the foot, quite willingly. Would they even notice? Tying the pattern without any of the foot variations is quite simple and a fairly quick tie. The extra time and effort may not even be necessary. Luckily all of you blokes out there won't have to spend your precious time out on the water trying to find out. The roughfisher will do it for you.

Will the antron foot on the Darth Clam pattern be the Achilles heel for mollusk-eating fish? Likely not, but this is the roughfisher's version of an emerger pattern. A brownliner's version of the BWO fly pattern evolution, if you will. Anyone for tennis?



  1. "Darth" Clam works perfect - just enough evil and carnage. Vader's Lightsaber was red - and hot pink is close enough ...

    I heartily approve.

  2. Love that fly - thanks for the step by step photos. I'm going to hit that up asap.