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How to Dig Razor Clams
Proper digging improves your efficiency, minimizes the breaking of clams and cut fingers.

Using a clam shovel...

First look for a "clam show". What is a clam show? That's where a clam has withdrawn it's neck or started to dig leaving a hole or dimple in the sand. There are three major kind of "shows" to look for:


  1. dimple: a depression in the sand
  2. doughnut: which has raised sides
  3. keyhole: which is usually in drier sand areas and is shaped like an "hour-glass" or is a hole with very distinct sides.

Always look for the larger sized hole shown here next to a quarter. This is a good indication that the clam will be larger, but not always.

Clams will also show at the edge of the surf line when you pound the beach with a shovel handle or your foot. They may squirt sand and water out of the hole where they are located. You need to be quick when digging in the surf as razor clams dig quite fast in the soft fluid sand.

How to Dig With a Clam Shovel

1. Place the shovel blade 4 to 6 inches seaward of the clam show. The handle of the shovel should be pointed toward the sand dunes.

2. Use your body weight to push the shovel blade straight into the sand while you drop to one knee. In hard sand, gently rock the shovel handle from side to side for ease of entry.

It is very important to keep the blade as vertical as possible to keep from breaking the clam shell.

3. Pull the handle back just enough to break the suction in the sand, still keeping the blade as straight as possible. The sand will crack as shown.

4. Remove sand by lifting the shovel upward and forward. Repeat this 2 to 3 times.

5. Succeeding scoops of sand expose the clam enough to reach down with your hand and grasp it's shell. Razor clams move rapidly downward but not horizontally. Make sure you keep the first 15 clams and .

How to Use the "Clam Tube"

1. Facing the ocean, check impression of tube in sand, then center the tube over the" clam show."

2. Slant the top of the tube slightly toward the sand dunes. Work the tube in carefully with a rocking or twisting motion.

3. Work the tube down 6" to 10" below the surface. Place thumb over air vent, pull up using your leg muscles (keeping your back straight will avoid muscle strain!). Do this one to three times.

4. Check each core that you bring up. The clam may be concealed within. If the clam does not come up with the tube, reach into the hole for it. Remember to keep the first 15 clams and avoid wasting any.


Clam Digging Gear: It is lawful to use hand or hand operated shovel and to employ a cylindrical can or tube. Each digger must have a separate container, but may share a digging device. Openings of cylindrical cans or tubes for razor clam digging must be either circular or elliptical. If circular, minimum dimensions: is four inches, if elliptical 4" long by 3" wide - outside diameter.

"This is a reproduction of a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife document and is not the official document or regulations of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. The accuracy of the reproduction cannot be guaranteed by WDFW."