Fish the Leader

Fly Fishing Tips & Resources



Filleting a fish is no big deal to a professional fisherman or someone who is always fishing. Even the chefs who are excellent at filleting a fish, just like the fishermen, had to learn this skill over time.

There are millions of people who don’t know how to even start the process or are too squeamish to try. But why would they when they can just go to the grocery store and buy fillets? Those fish are often frozen, shipped from somewhere else, colored or it may not even be the right fish that the sign says they are!

Well, everyone should try the freshest fish possible by catching the fish and filleting them themselves. You won’t get any better than that! It can be fun to get out there and be one with nature sometimes.

Maybe you are going to a cabin where fishing is an option and you could impress your significant other or even your friends with your filleting skills.

If you don’t want to go fishing, go get a fish from the store and you can still learn at home, because you never know what situation you will find yourself in, right? The more knowledge, the better.

PS. Need to know the best fishing rods?

So here are the steps for filleting a small fish…

1. Make sure your fillet knife is very sharp. You don’t want to be sawing away on your fish and getting nowhere. Preferably you should be wearing gloves because the fish can be pretty slippery and you don’t want to cut yourself.

Fish Gloves

2. Life the pectoral fin (the fin on the side of the body) and cut down in a slightly diagonal pattern toward the tail, right behind the gill. Your knife will stop at the spine.

Cutting Fish

3. With the tip of your knife, place it on the spine where you were cutting and turn it toward the tail. Cut along the spine to the tail and then push the knife through to the other side and continue all the way through past the tail.

Spine Cut

4. Go back to the head and start cutting halfway through the fish in the same path that you were cutting along the spine, partially lifting the fillet as you cut.

Lifting Fillet

5. Keep going all the way through as you hold the fillet, out to the other side. Removing the belly meat is optional, which is located just below the head.

6. You can choose to cut the fillet meat away from the skin or you can leave it on, since it should come off easily after it’s cooked. Some people cook with the skin on and make it crisp and they love to eat it. It has healthy oils in it, but you can’t eat all fish skins. Fish like tuna have skins that are too tough to eat.

7. Repeat the same process all over again on the other side of the fish.

Red Fillet

And what is the best part about fishing, filleting and cooking your own fish? If you already have the bait and rods, it’s free! If you buy a whole fish at the store, it’ll be cheaper than buying the fillets also. The only thing left to figure out is what spices you will use to cook that delicious fish!

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