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Thread: Filleting Techniques

  1. #1

    Default Filleting Techniques

    I have used many different types of fillet knives including electric ones. Long bendable fillet knives work best for me.

    I have seen people cut salmon into three sections, cut along the back and fillet down to the belly. I have seen people start at the gills, cut down to the backbone and then straight to the tail. Personally, I cut at the gill but not deep enough to puncture the rib cage. Then I fillet down to the tail. This leaves you with a nice fillet and with no rib cage. There is a trace amount of meat left on the bones but this way it much more presentable and easier to work with when the meat is being prepared.

  2. #2
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    Default Filleting on a bank

    I've seen those techniques work slick on a table but they're hard (at least for me) when you're trying to fillet the fish without a table. I like to bleed and fillet my fish as quickly as possible and because there's rarely a table nearby, I usually end up filleting right on the bank. I try really hard to keep the meat clean while I'm filleting because I'm somewhat anal-retentive about not using a bunch of water to rinse the fillet off after I'm done (strips away a lot of the natural oils and can do bad things to the texture of the fillet). This is the technique I use when I don't have a table handy:

    1) gut the fish and clean away the kidney (dark red stuff along the spine); 2) cut off the head (including pectoral fins); 3) ring the tail by slicing all around the base down to the bone but don't remove it; 4) from the internal side, slice down both sides of the spine, breaking all the small bones along the way, and continue the cut around the anal fin down to your tail ring, then deepen the cuts down to the skin but not through it - the fish should now lay flat on the ground; 5) remove the rib bones by carefully starting a slice underneath them and then laying the off-hand on top of the ribs while the knife-hand continues to slice the ribs away (you should be able to see your knife blade through the membrane covering the ribs) - once you've cut the ribs halfway away from the fillet you should be able to pull them the rest of the way off from there; 6) cut away the belly meat along with the pelvic fins; 7) start peeling the fillets away from the skin by working your fingers between the meat and the skin near the spine (at the biggest "corner" of the fillet"); 8) once you have the corner of the fillet peeled away, grab the corner with both hands, plant the heel of your boot on the newly exposed skin to pin it down, and then pull the fillet the rest of the way off.

    This method takes a little practice but is well worth it because you essentially use the skin as the barrier between the fillet and the ground you're working on - the dirt stays on the skin you leave behind and the clean fillet goes with you. Running a wet hand over the fillet should easily wipe off any little bits of sand or grass that may have gotten on there while you were working. Because doing it this way requires a number of smallish cuts rather than a few big cuts, I've found that the best knives aren't fillet knives but something that's smaller and a little broader, like a folding Buck knife.

    Hope this helps someone sometime...

  3. #3
    Member slimm's Avatar
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    Default fillet

    a small piece of artifical turf about 12'' x 24'' will keep it out of the dirt, and the fish wont slide around on it.
    its easy to roll up and pack with you and easy to clean..
    it is also easy on knives if you make a slip.

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    Lightbulb

    I head the fish, cutting just behind the top of the gills, diagonally down, removing the pectoral fins. Gut, but leave the kidney in place. I fillet with an electric knife, remove the bellies, and the ribs, in that order. Done correctly, one can see light through the remaining carcass, the bellies are separated for smoking or, as we use them for grilling, and the resulting fillet is beautiful—smooth with no ragged edges or saw marks and well-shaped.

    One evening a couple years back, the kids came off the beach with 97 headed and gutted reds. Once here at the house, we set up a slime line: one of the girls flipped me a fish, I filleted, handed it off to a guy who cut the bellies off and handed it to another who removed the ribs. We did the 97 fish in sixty-five minutes

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    Lightbulb

    I head the fish, cutting just behind the top of the gills, diagonally down, removing the pectoral fins. Gut, but leave the kidney in place. I fillet with an electric knife, remove the bellies, and the ribs, in that order. Done correctly, one can see light through the remaining carcass, the bellies are separated for smoking or, as we use them for grilling, and the resulting fillet is beautiful—smooth with no ragged edges or saw marks and well-shaped.

    One evening a couple years back, the kids came off the beach with 97 headed and gutted reds. Once here at the house, we set up a slime line: one of the girls flipped me a fish, I filleted, handed it off to a guy who cut the bellies off and handed it to another who removed the ribs. We did the 97 fish in sixty-five minutes

  6. #6

    Default

    I like steaking them out, the tend to cook more evenly but I also like to filet them as well. WG's method is the same way I do it but like akpryde said, fileting them on a bank can be tough sometimes!

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    Smile

    Here's a link to a tutorial with pics for how I do those on my boat.

    http://www.piscatorialpursuits.com/r...ter/fillet.htm

    As Slimm mentioned, you'll see what I cut on Good tip Slimm!

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    Lightbulb

    Yes, steaks do cook better than do fillets because steaks are all the same thickness. But it is possible to "steak" a fillet.

    First trim the angled cut behind the head with a cut perpendicular to the length of the fillet. Next, come down the fillet twice the thickness of the desired steak, proceeding thusly until you come to the end of the rib section, after which the remaining piece is more or less the same thickness and boneless. Next, remove the pinbones from the cut pieces of fillet. Then butterfly each piece, cutting down to but not through the skin.

    When folded in, skin-to-skin, you will have a perfect, boneless steak cut from a fillet.

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    I'm a dipper and live "near" the Kenai. I rip a gill and toss in a cooler. I filet when I get back to the house on the dedicated filet plywood on saw ponies. A sheet rock screw from the bottom side makes a nice spike to slam the head on to keep the fish from slip-sliding away. Surgery forceps are handy for pulling side bones.

    Heads, tails, guts stay attached and go into a plastic trash can, then back to the river.

    If it's got ribs - it ain't a filet!


  10. #10

    Default

    I generally do it a little different. first I do rip a gill and let it bleed out. I use a board or a table. If try to bring one to where I fish if possible

    Then I cut straight down behind the gill plate untiL I touch the backbone. Then turning the knife flat against the backbone I cut the whole filet off, ribs and all until I almost reach the tail where I stop. Then I flip the filet over end to end so that the meat is up and the filet is flat on the board and still attached at the tail. Then I take my knife and keeping it flat between the meat and the skin I cut the whole skin off. Now I have a skinless filet with the ribs still attached.

    For all the above, I like a stiff, very sharp, extra long knife.

    Then with a more classic filet knife I slip the blade just under the ribs and skin them off as well.

    This is a very fast, efficient way to get great fillets. The heads, guts, and backbone and skin are all still connected they are tossed. Well some of the guts usually come loose in the process but not many.

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    Member fishNphysician's Avatar
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    Default

    Here's a link to the web version of a fillet method that I had published in Salmon Trout Steelheader last year:

    http://www.ifish.net/forum/showflat....&page=0#514620
    "Let every angler who loves to fish think what it would mean to him to find the fish were gone."
    http://www.piscatorialpursuits.com/uploads/UP12710.jpg
    The KeenEye MD

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    Default Thanks Doc...

    In the past I have used the same method as Bob Ball...for the most part pretty happy with it, just have to pick out the little bones.

    I'll have to give this a try, portions are cut and keeps the bones out. Wife should be happy!

  13. #13
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    Default from the STS article...

    This technique really shines on a BIG fish like a king:

    Here's the what it looks like BEFORE we get started:

    ...........

    fillet 00 - BEFORE 33# king 600.jpg




    These are the preparatory cuts:

    ..........

    fillet 02 - lateral and cross cuts 575.jpg
    Last edited by fishNphysician; 06-05-2006 at 22:25.
    "Let every angler who loves to fish think what it would mean to him to find the fish were gone."
    http://www.piscatorialpursuits.com/uploads/UP12710.jpg
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  14. #14
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    Default

    Now we start taking the pieces off the carcass like this:

    ..........

    fillet 03 - proper knife angle 575.jpg

    fillet 07 - more than halfway there 575.jpg
    "Let every angler who loves to fish think what it would mean to him to find the fish were gone."
    http://www.piscatorialpursuits.com/uploads/UP12710.jpg
    The KeenEye MD

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    Default

    One side done.

    ..........

    fillet 10 - one side finished 575.jpg





    Second side done

    ..........

    fillet 12 - second side finished 575.jpg
    "Let every angler who loves to fish think what it would mean to him to find the fish were gone."
    http://www.piscatorialpursuits.com/uploads/UP12710.jpg
    The KeenEye MD

  16. #16
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    Default

    Here's the featherweight carccass AFTER it's finished!

    ..........

    fillet 13 - AFTER side view 600.jpg

    fillet 14 - AFTER belly view 600.jpg
    "Let every angler who loves to fish think what it would mean to him to find the fish were gone."
    http://www.piscatorialpursuits.com/uploads/UP12710.jpg
    The KeenEye MD

  17. #17

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    MD,
    Cool!! I usually end up cutting across my fillets in a similiar fashion anyway. Your way looks allot easier and cleaner. I'll give it a shot tommorrow!

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    Default

    Now that's what I call a well thought out illustrated lesson, THANKS!

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    Lightbulb

    A good way to use the thick-and-thin chunk below would be to butterfly it. Turn the piece over skin side down, slice down to but not through the skin, and fold it skin-to-skin — it'll be a perfect little steak, the same thickness throughout.
    Last edited by Marcus; 03-13-2007 at 08:13.

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    Thumbs up filet

    Wow, very impressive photo-demo. I usually do my fish by cutting a gill arch or two to bleed the fish immediately. Then filet very similar to Bob at Piscatorial pursuits, but I may have to try that method you have shown. My wife always complains about uneven filet thickness.

    Thanks for sharing

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