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Modified Half Cast Method for Panfish with photos

Discussion in 'Fish Taxidermy' started by Cecil, Nov 19, 2007.

  1. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    This is my modified version of the half cast method of mounting fish using Tom Sexton Fish Filler (WASCO) and a plaster impression of the fish. It's quick, it's easy, no glue needed, no sewing or stapling of the back seam, no need to carve a body or order a mannikin, and best of all the results are anatomically correct. Using this method I can't imagine ever trying to find a mannikin that will fit this category of fish; that varies tremendously in anatomy from season to season, or from one body of water to another. And there is no test fitting needed, which can put stress on a crappie skin.


    Plaster impression made of fish before skinning. Simply poured plaster on a piece of garbage bag or newspaper once it is thick enough to provide the required depth and laid the unskinned fish in it to the midline. Let the plaster set up and remove and rinse the fish and skin out. Be aware the show side faces down.


    The next day or several hours later the skinned out fish skin is laid into its original postion with fins lined up etc. Note the white clay where the tail meets the body. The clay takes longer to set and one can use it to create a smooth tail to body transition.


    Using Tom Sexton Fish Filler the body is partially filled and a piece of precut plywood is put into position at approximately the center of the body to be covered with more filler. It's important the filler has the consistency of wet play dough.


    Fish is overfilled with the fish filler and the excess is pushed out the back seam. This is very important to prevent air bubbles or depressions.


    Fish almost completely filled with a plastic spatula in view. This tool can be used over and over again for mixing the filler with water by simply flexing off the filler once it sets. Same goes for a gallon plastic ice cream bucket that I use to mix the filler.

    Note one step is not show! Once the filler starts to firm up I remove the fish from the filler, turn the fish over, and prop it into the postion I want with paper towels underneath the body. This gives a curve to the body if you wish. You can even do reverse curves with this method very easily. I wet the fins with spray bottle of water periodically, and wait for the filler to become hard which is within 20 minutes or so. Also if you want an open mouth fish it's important you pack paper toweling into the mouth of the fish before the filler sets up.


    The filler has set up and after predrilling a hole into the back of the fish and plywood block, a piece of furrowing stripping is screwed into the back of the fish with a drywall screw for hanging.


    The fish all carded and hanging up to dry.
  2. DanB

    DanB New Member

    Do you reuse your plaster impressions of the fish for similiar sized fish.

  3. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    No. I know people that do, but for me it's easier to make a new one than to store the plaster impressions and try and hunt down the right size. I also feel I owe it to the customer to use the mold impression of his fish. I usually bust up the mold impression when I'm done with it and discard it.
  4. Becky P

    Becky P One must believe the glass is half full.

    Thank you Cecil!
  5. jkidd

    jkidd New Member

    Cecil, this is exactly how I do all my panfish. I have tried pre made forms and carving forms, but for a smaller fish this is the easiest, quickest, and most accurate way I have tried. Thanks for posting this for others to see.
  6. Sikk

    Sikk Member

    Cecil, thanks for all you share.. Pardon my ignorance, but what kind of plaster are you using? And do you add the plaster to the water? If so what ratios? How large a fish can you do using this technique? thanks again, paul
  7. Kerby Ross

    Kerby Ross KSU - Class of '83; U.S. Army - Infantry (83-92)


    Does the plaster HEAT up and damage the skin....or do you pull the fish before the plaster gets too hot? And do you coat the fish (wax, etc..) before the plaster?


  8. Ive done this method as well. Ive never had it heat up enough to do damage. I pull the fish as soon as it sets but before the real heat kicks in.

    Great set of photo tutorials Cecil!
  9. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    I use quick setting dental plaster available from a local building supply store for about $25.00 per 100 lb. bag. But any plaster should work. I would definitely try and find it locally as shipping plaster would be a killer.

    Yes, always add plaster to water never water to the plaster. I don't go by ratios. I just add plaster and mix until I get the right consistency. Many times I wait for it to thicken up enough so it doesn't run all over the table. I've done crappies over 3 lbs. with this method. Did a 20 inch 3 1/4 lb. crappie with this method not long ago. It gets tricky with larger fish but can definitely be done. On the larger fish the filler can break on you after it sets if you're not careful. If that happens either run some superglue where the filler broker and hold into place until it sets up or postion the fish with paper toweling under the break and let the skin set up. Once the skin sets up you're fin and can put some filler into the crack.
  10. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member


    Believe it or not the Dental plaster sets up BEFORE it gets warm. However a little heat shouldn't hurt a heavily scales fish like panfish. And no need whatsoever to use apply anything to the fish for making the plaster impression. The fish pops right out. I would even rinse the fish slime off if need be and pat dry the fish with paper towel before molding.
  11. ArtistPete

    ArtistPete Member

    Thanks Cecil--very nice of you to take the time to demonstrate that method--I'm gonna give 'er a try this winter on some bluegills.
  12. Great info Cecil. Thanks for sharing.
  13. Cecil just wondering if you could do stringer mounts with this method or would weight be a factor with the filler
  14. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    Sure do! All the time! The filler is heavy when it's wet but you'd be surprised how much lighter it becomes when it dries out.

  15. Becky P

    Becky P One must believe the glass is half full.

    Beautiful crappie Cecil.
  16. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    Thanks Becky. What bugs me is the photo for some reason makes the pec fins really stick out as bright yellow. Not the case in real life.
  17. rnviper3

    rnviper3 New Member

    i have done several small fish this way. thank you Cecil for the long talks we had walking me threw it a couple years ago.
  18. Becky P

    Becky P One must believe the glass is half full.

    It's not bad on my monitor, the top one might be a tad bright, but not bad. Of course everyone's monotors will look a bit different. Like my mom's, hers is WAY too dark, I have to fix it.
  19. Thanks cecil for the knowledge i have a lot of panfish to do and will use this method for sure
  20. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    If you have any questions feel free to contact me.