Razorshells have the edge

Most species of fish take razors, especially flatties, bass, cod, whiting and pouting. Used in cocktail form they add another dimension to a plain worm bait. Boat anglers in the north-east swear by razors that have been allowed to go ‘off’ as a bait for cod, whiting and flatfish.

Where to look

Razors are found in the same inter-tidal areas as black lugworm and often appear among tube worms. They live in burrows up to 45cm deep but you can sometimes see the tip of the shell sticking out of the burrow. Vibrations cause razors to burrow down with great speed, sending up a spurt of water as they go. So if you can’t see them, keep a look out for the key-hole shaped entrance to their burrows and spots on the sand where they have spurted water. Collecting them after a storm is easy. Just pick the dislodged razors off the beach at the high-tide mark where they are eventually cast up by the sea. A winter gale that coincides with a low spring tide is perfect and some large catches of cod and flounder often accompany such storms — especially from venues along the south coast of England.

Pulling them out If you can see a razor sticking up, grip the top of the shell until the fleshy foot of the razor – which grips the sides of the burrow like a rawlplug -releases its grip.

In darkness, razors come right out of their burrows and you can pick them from the sand in their hundreds. Salt One method of coaxing them out is to sprinkle household salt at the entrance to the burrow. It doesn’t always work but usually the razor emerges and you can pluck it out. The method seems to work best when the sand is dry.

Digging At other times razors need to be dug with a lugworm spade or fork. This is best done at low tide – as the sand dries their burrows become more apparent. Simply follow the line of the burrow until you reach the razor.

Spear In some areas anglers collect razors with a small barbed spear. This is a most efficient way of gathering the bigger specimens.

Presentation

Remove the razor from its shell by prising apart the two halves. Be careful not to splinter the shell in your hand or else the razor will live up to its name and may cut you. Small razors of about 3in are preferred for shore fishing as they fit a size 1 hook perfectly and can be threaded singly or in twos or threes on to the hook and snood like worms.

Large adult squat razors of 5-6in – which resemble the old cut-throat razor – live deep in the sand. They are hard to dig up and often too big and yellowy for anything other than bass. However, you can cut them into small pill-shaped pieces and use them to tip lugworms.

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