1. Welcome to Taxidermy.net, Guest!
    We have put together a brief tutorial to help you with the site, click here to access it.

Popping scales off

Discussion in 'Fish Taxidermy' started by jason.fairbanks, Mar 6, 2016.

  1. jason.fairbanks

    jason.fairbanks Member

    I have tried expanding into fish taxidermy and its kicking my butt. I cannot skin a fish without popping off scales. I have practiced on panfish to date and I haven't successfully skinned any of the four potential projects. Frustrating to say the least as I learn to handle them with more delicacy. Will soaking in a solution of alcohol and water "toughen" them up enough?
  2. whitetails and fish only

    whitetails and fish only Well-Known Member

    You did't say what species of panfish. If you are doing crappies you are going to have trouble as the scales come off very easily. On the other hand sunfish and perch are much easier to skin without loosing scales.

  3. Gentle is the way, the only way quit being rough with the fish. I skin most crappie without knocking out scales. Just be gentle
  4. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    Ditto with what John says.

    1. Do not bend the skin if possible.

    2. Scrape perpendicular to the scales where possible. If not possible in some area of the skin always scrape from the tail to the head otherwise you can pull scales out of their sockets.

    3. For reallly loose scaled fish like crappies, cut the carcass out in sections before scraping.

    I heavily salt chromish delicate summer lake or sea salmonids before skinning. I also do not soak them long.
  5. jason.fairbanks

    jason.fairbanks Member

    Thanks guys. I have been practicing on bluegill and crappie. It requires a much more delicate hand than I initially realized. More practice!!
  6. JL

    JL Taxidermist for 64 years

    I'll go with Cecil here except that on a chrome trout or salmon I soak them overnight in Denatured Alcohol in a "flat" plastic tray. Then I try not to move them too much as I skin them. I try to do it all in the alcohol tray....even the fleshing. I cut off the head and body fins but try to keep the tail unless it needs a lot of repair from damage done with a landing net. Then I even cut off the tail. Works for me...good luck. JL
  7. jim tucker

    jim tucker Active Member

    A few more learning tips.

    1. Try doing a walleye/saugeye/sauger. They can take a lot of abuse as you are learning.

    2. If you can't get those, work a LM or SM bass. WAY easier to skin than Crappie/sunfish

    3. Have the right tools and be gentle until you know what is where and how to remove it.

    4. This is MOST important IMO. So many focus on PAINTING fish, however it is less important than mounting. The best painter out there cannot make a crappy mount look good. Learn your anatomy.

    5. If you did not already buy these books. To be honest they will teach you everything you need to know to the point where you would want to get next level instruction.

  8. The so called fish skinning knifes sucks, one is made for scraping bot fly eggs from horses and the other is for shucking oysters.

    The best knife I have found for small fish is a grapefruit knife., with a slight rough edge, the edge will cut but its not razor sharp.

    and scissors from James Supply Company, the little gold handle ones. Just cut one tendon at a time when skinning small delicate fish. A piece of heavy glass and windex will also help, do your best to to keep the fish wet with windex and remove the body in three sections, very carefully. the windex will help the fish spin on the glass a and lubricate the skin.
  9. jigginjim

    jigginjim Active Member

    My other thought would be maybe remove the head before skinning. As not be moving the skin around as much to clean out the head. MY 2pennies
  10. den007

    den007 Active Member

    Rub some alum into the skin before you work……..it removes slime and tightens scales. Are you using a good fleshing tool? Let's see a pic. I have 2 sizes…..smaller is usually better. There is a huge difference between "skinning tools" Diehm knife, and fleshing tools. Also cheek cleaners. The good ones are very smalle and are NOT Diehm skinning knives or horse hoof tools (Matt Thompson "innovation."
  11. JL

    JL Taxidermist for 64 years

    Den...I like to give credit where credit is due. Those two tools the "cheeker" and "skinning" were designed by Paul Borkowski from Michigan.They went to Matt Thampson to sell as a business convenience since MT had a catalog and could sell them better. Now if this wrong I would like you to correct me. JL
  12. den007

    den007 Active Member

    I am not disputing your facts. I remember an old, old thread that the skinning tool came up on and somebody mentioned they could buy a similar type tool used on horse hoofs at Farm and Fleet and modify it. As for my "cheeker" tool, I use a double ended, small metallic one sold by Rinehart taxidermy. On larger fish, the Diehm knife is used now and then, but I like Rineharts for smaller fish and getting into tight places. I bought one of the "Matt Thompson" skinning knives and tried it on a few larger fish…….went back to my old standby Diehm knife. I did not see any great advantages to the large, crescent shaped flesher regardless of who its originator is or was.
  13. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    I use a small tool called a junior flesher for fleshing from Dan Chase and unlike the larger dull ones sold by the other supply companies this one has an edge and works much better. Has an orange handle.

    For tough fleshing I use a scalpel.
  14. http://www.shipshewanaharness.com/ecommerce/dynamic/images/lg_eggbotknife.jpg
  15. den007

    den007 Active Member

    Thanks John………that may be the tool I had heard about so long ago. If you look at most fish taxidermy tools……..they are largely borrowed from existing implements. Grapefruit knives, clay modeling tools, etc. You don't need many, but having tools that work for you sure makes things easier and quicker.
  16. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    Shipshewanna is about 20 minutes from the house. Big Amish tourist trap.
  17. pdmd2911

    pdmd2911 Member

    A thick coating of borax will hold scales in place while processing skin.