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

I'm going to start using more and more cast fins

Discussion in 'Fish Taxidermy' started by Cecil, Jun 2, 2018.

  1. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    on my commercial fish. I'm realizing I am spending a lot of time coating, backing, and repairing poor fins. I'll be up front with my customers of course.

    I guess part of my problem is I'm a perfectionist when it comes to fins and end up doing a lot of remodeling of the rays if the fin is bad, and then end up whiting the fin out and repainting the colors from scratch.

    I thought I skinned out the last musky head and was going to cast the latest one, but the customer would have no part of it. I guess I'm going to have to do some educating and a take it or leave it attitude if they want me to do the fish. The guy thought a cast head was inferior and had poor detail. Huh? I explained to him it was just the opposite if the head is cast when i's fresh. I guess there are some bad casts and painting of those casts out there.

    Just did a steelhead I wished I had used all cast fins. Was a decent mount but would have looked better with cast fins.

    Anyone else moving to cast fins exclusively on skin mounts?
    rwenglish1 likes this.
  2. Monty Python

    Monty Python New Member

    I've always used artificial head and fins on coldwater fish but also charge more for them. I've considered them for warmwater fish and see pros and cons. Once you have a bank of fin molds for most of the common sizes it wouldn't be hard to produce them but you still have the time in attachment and proper blending etc. Also, some fins are more difficult to paint convincingly. Interesting point and looking forward to hearing from others.
    Cecil likes this.

  3. dale65

    dale65 Active Member

    I have done a lot of repainting on fish that the fins are either curled up real bad or all broke up not my fish but other taxidermist most of them I use cast fins and they all look better to me
    Cecil likes this.
  4. byrdman

    byrdman Well-Known Member

    what ever happenned to the Tom Witbeck fin flex from vandykes..... all the newer " latex caulk" stuff is a pita to use if no better stuff comes around may go to fake fins
    Cecil likes this.
  5. 3bears

    3bears Well-Known Member

    I only use fakes when I have to, missing or badly damaged. I also repair just about all damage, unless asked not to. Unless you have amassed a large selection of molds, I can't see it being beneficial. PS I also save the wall side pectoral fin from almost every fish I do, so I have a collection of those waiting if I need.
    Cecil likes this.
  6. Fallenscale

    Fallenscale Member

    I think cast heads and fins are a time saver. Most times looks better. When I started I thought it was all about have the real fish. But time you repair and fill how real is it really. I'm in the casted camp. From the real fish. Not to mention how many more years it will look great hanging on the wall
    Cecil likes this.
  7. JL

    JL Taxidermist for 64 years

    Cecil, I think you're going too deep with the customer's knowledge of how his fish was mounted. I mount the fish my way. If it's a trout or salmon it gets a repro head and the fins also.( Actually I do more repro trout and salmon than skin mounts, and do tell the customer what I'm going to do) I show them the difference between the two and explain how the repro will outlast the skin mount. If they still want the skin mount that's OK but I choose to either use the real fins or some cast fins.If the customer brings me his fish to mount and has seen my past work, it's because he likes what he saw and he trusts my judgement on how to mount the fish. Warm water, fish if the fins need repair I use a cast fin but since they're not as greasy as the cold water fish I use the original ones if they're in good shape.
    I'm the taxidermist....he's the customer, I don't tell you how to do your work, don't tell me how to do mine.
    Cecil and 3bears like this.
  8. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    I thought about doing that but was afraid I may get a customer that was not happy about that.
  9. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    I've always used DougP's method of backing with clear plastic & contact cement because I think it looks better/cleaner than any other fin backing method & lasts as long as artificial fins. Plus, it gives a great foundation for quick, easy repairs. I certainly can see the benefit of molding some sets of commonly used species that are in great condition for re-use with future, similarly sized fins. But, this late in your career Cecil I don't see you getting there before you retire - lol! Seriously though, I don't see it as much of a time-saver in the whole realm of things, but to each his/her own. Some remove and re-attach their fins later and I also don't see that as a time saver either. I think it's more of a quality thing as with some species the shrinkage is quite noticeable to the educated eye. On the other hand some species like bluegill and plastic backing with translucency will probably look better using the real fins. Customers won't be able to tell the difference either way unless you point it out. And if you can do it about as fast as your current method then why not go for it?
  10. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    I always clip the backside pecs on wall mounts unless they show (like salmon or trout and some other species) and no customer has ever complained Cecil. I use to card them for future fish and have used them. And in a pinch you can use them/modified sometimes to create other fins. But, it's almost always other fins or the tails that need to be replaced so I just buy fin sets now. Or should I say my customer's buy fin sets now ;)
  11. Frank E. Kotula

    Frank E. Kotula master, judge, instructor

    LOL Ive been on the band wagon for 18 years welcome aboard
  12. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    Marty doubt I'll ever retire from fish taxidermy. I'll just cut back if anything.
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2018
    FishArt likes this.
  13. 3bears

    3bears Well-Known Member

    Cecil, if you are like me in any way, you'll probably retire 10 months to a year after you die.
    FishArt and Cecil like this.
  14. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    Taxidermy is like the line in the song Hotel California: "You can check out but you can never leave." :rolleyes:
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2018
    jemmick, Steven Klee, FishArt and 3 others like this.
  15. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    My wife told me the other day that if we can swing it I can retire as long as I don't just sit around and watch tv and actually DO some stuff around here. I have a few more things I want to do in the fish taxidermy/replica arena. And that will take a couple of years. But, make no mistake, I would have absolutely no problem walking away from fish permanently! ;) It would give me some time to do all the things I've wanted to tinker with, artwork, teach, etc., and that may actually include some crossovers into fish taxidermy, but it will be a much different approach to it without customers per se'...
  16. Sotired

    Sotired Active Member

    When I retired, I (like a dope) dumped all of my molds on my wifes insistence, due to a move. As a result, I never had anything for myself, and I'm still kicking myself for it!!! I don't miss dealing with customers, although I don't remember ever having that many problems. I just miss doing the art!

  17. Mudbat

    Mudbat Well-Known Member

    I use cast heads and fins and I tell my customers that’s what I’m doing. Unless they have to have the real fins. I explain the pros and cons to each. Fins are not expensive and the guy I get a lot of mine from does a amazing job. Saves sooooooo much time
  18. JL

    JL Taxidermist for 64 years

    Should have made a cast of the wife, they're easier to live with. And you can repaint as necessary.
  19. fishmaster

    fishmaster Well-Known Member

    As you look at those 50 fish hanging from your rafters drying, ponder the idea of having to cast, lay up, grind, trim, attach and blend that many fins for an audience who doesn't know the difference or can see the difference or is willing to pay more for the difference. Coldwater fish.... sure.. Warmwater..... not so much.
    Cecil, Jimmy Lawrence and 3bears like this.
  20. Perca

    Perca Well-Known Member

    Cecil likes this.