How Do You Fillet A Catfish ?Guide For Filleting A Catfish

how do you fillet a catfish

There are many people who do not know the importance of filleting fishes. If you see, the fishes that come from water at instant usually contain bacteria on them. So it is very important to fillet those fishes if you want to make them a part of your lunch and dinner. Now the question is, how do you fillet a catfish? 

All in all, a fish is only able to eat if you scale it properly. Nonetheless, an entire fish can give us an indication of how clean it is. Thus, it will be easier for you to clean your catfish. One thing you must consider is to fillet a catfish is to acquire a sharp fillet knife. Otherwise, most of your time will go by struggling with a blunt knife. 

To start off with a catfish filleting, you must know all the important steps. Especially the newbies who are doing it for the first time, shall gain a fundamental on these steps. For this reason, I have accumulated some easy steps on cleaning and filleting catfishes.

Skinning and Cleaning a catfish

how to clean a catfish step by step

While skinning a catfish, you must make some shallow slanted cuts at the back of your fish’s gill. And you will find two s on each side of your fish. Then take your knife onto the head and cut from there along with the spine, and end to its tail. 

Next, you slice down your fish’s skin and take the knife to the centre, i.e. fish’s belly. Do not forget to make some vertical slits on both sides of your fish’s tail. 

Now take pliers and clamp on the below skin of your fish’s gills. Also, peel your fish’s skin by taking it to the tail. Be certain of peeling it in one fluid motion and remove the innards. To do so, you need to twist your fish’s head off from its gill. Again, remove its fins and tail.

Use your hands to pull out all the entrails and your knife to slit the fish’s stomach. And then wash the entire fish with cold water 

For cutting fillets, cut your fish’s spine and keep cutting until you reach its ribs. Then you poke your knife into the stomach of the fish and cut the tail as well. Again, cut back by taking your knife in the front in order to make fillets. Onwards, remember to remove the fillet on the other side too.

This is all you can try as a basic guide for cleaning your catfish and making fillets. Still we are going to show you the significant steps from root which can be applied without requiring no time at all. So let us go through them without making any further delay.

How to clean a catfish step by step

Cleaning and filleting catfishes are nowhere different from each other. Still,I am going to show you some essential traits that refer to cleaning and filleting catfishes in their own way. For now, let us have a look at some steps on how to clean a catfish.

Step 1: Prepare your knife

First thing first, you have to use an electric fillet knife. And make sure your knife has a lot of power and a lot of torque. Or a big long nine inch blade can really help to clean fishes effectively. So let us see the steps of the cleaning process. 

Step 2: Go through the spine

Take a channel catfish and pull out of the cooler and make your first cut right behind the pectoral fin. Then cut it down to the middle spine. It would be better if you spine right to the end of your fish’s tail. That does not mean you have to cover your fish through the tail. 

Afterwards, you will get your first coat. When you find so, run your knife blade all the way down its side, cut to those ribs by following your fish’s spine.

Step 3: Cut the ribs out

catfish knife

Now, take your knife blade and cut the meat right off the skin. Then pull it off over a clean fillet and cut the ribs out.

So the ribs are out and you will get a nice catfish filet just like you get at the restaurant before. 

Flip your catfish over and do the other side in the same way. Remember to pay attention to this whole side of your catfish’s skin where you will see a little bit of meat on its left and right. Whenever you fillet a catfish, some big

an old strip of red color will be visible to you. However, these red greasy strips are not good to eat, so just remove them.

Step 4: Tilt your knife

In order to eliminate the process, tilt your knife blade up a little bit and cut the meat. Now your fish’s skin is almost fine, so just eliminate it from cleaning, especially that red meat. Hence you can simply do sawing to your fillet. 

Next, put your fish in a bowl where there is no red meat. Afterwards, clean both sides of your catfish in the exact same way.

Whenever you pull the meat off the skin, make sure to pull it really tight to the skin. As a result, you can see that red meat and then you will understand why you should lift the meat up a little bit on the first cut.

Step 5: Take the ribs out

Now take the meat off the skin and you see a kind of dark red meat on the outside of that fish. Well, it makes the fish have a really strong taste. 

Whenever you lift up on the knife, you will be able to eliminate cutting that off. But if you do not lift so, make an additional cut and pull that red meat. Again, cut the ribbon down and you will find some ribs.

Just put them down in a bucket and work with another nice fillet. Put it too in your bowl of water fish.

Step 6: Flip your fish

If you are new to cleaning a catfish knife, you make that first cut behind the pectoral fan down into the main spine. Then cut the fish laterally all the way down to the tail but not all the way through. After doing so, flip your fish over and cut the meat off the skin. Lastly, take the ribs out at ease and you are done. 

The best way to fillet a catfish

best fillet knife for catfish

Now and then, we got a fine abstract on how to clean a catfish step by step. Next, we are going to figure out the best way to fillet a catfish. Hopefully, this technique can make your filleting job easier than before.

Step 1: Straighten the body of fish

As mentioned before, you must prepare your knife first to make fillets precisely. Anyways, try to put your fish on ice before you start to clean it. But if your fish’s flesh is soft, your job of filleting will be easier than before. So take your fish, straighten up its body and hold it with one of your hands.

Or you can grip your fish by placing your forefinger and thumb behind your fish’s pectoral fins.

Step 2: Lay your fish

In this step, you are to keep your catfish’s head on your hand’s palm and lay the entire fish simply. However, laying your fish on the other side of a flat surface will be much better. You will get this surface at your ribcage’s end.

Now, use your right hand and try to angle it with your knife. Make sure to angle your knife in a parallel towards the ribcage. Then cut your fish keeping an angle into the backbone of your fish.

Step 3: Cut along the backbone

As you have reached your fish’s backbone, turn your electric knife’s blade in a parallel position towards the backbone. Then you need to cut the backbone of your fish up to its tail precisely. Once you reach the tail, stop cutting right there and use your knife blade to flip your fish.

Moreover, you will have to remove the meat from your fish’s skin through the knife. Thus, you get a boneless fillet to put over a fryer or griller 

Step 4: Remove the fins

Some people do not like to eat backbone in fishes. If you are one of them, just cut off the backbone behind its ribcage and remove all its fins. Nevertheless, catfishes are not so hard to clean as they already come from freshwater.

How to fillet a catfish with a knife

how to fillet a catfish with a knife

As we have already discussed about the cleaning process of catfish fillets, now it’s time to know how to cut them. Although the below steps are no different than before, you can still find some differences in them.

Step 1: Make a small incision

Go to the gill plate and pectoral fin of your fish and make a little incision starting from the downside. While doing one side, do not forget to make the incision from the other side too. Accordingly, go ahead of your fish and cut on its spine too. 

Step 2: Turn your fish upside down

It would be better if you slide your knife in and ease the knife when you reach the backbone. Or you can turn your fish upside down where your knife will space up towards your fish’s spine.

All being well, you will start to get down to the adipose fin and slide your knife in an easy position. Therefore, your knife pops out by a ventral fin and eases the whole fin. 

Step 3: Peel off your fish’s skin

Now peel off your catfish’s skin over a rib cage and make your knife go right to those ribs. However, you do not have to worry about its skin, but if it still bothers you, slide your knife in order to ease it in a convenient way. Henceforth, your catfish’s skin will get separated from its body. Thus, you get a skinless fillet.

Step 4: Store on a freezer

Nonetheless, you must repeat the same step on the other side of your catfish. Once you are done with the entire process, keep your fish in a freezer or a ziploc bag for a long time. Remember to squeeze out all the air from your ziploc bag and close it off after keeping your fish securely.

How to cut catfish fillets

how to cut catfish fillets

In order to cut catfish fillets, you can also try some easy techniques other than the prior techniques. So let us not make any delay and see what those significant steps are.

Step 1: Check the flavour

For filleting a catfish, you will need a sharp knife as always. Besides, you must see if your catfish comes with several flavors or not. Well, you can see the flavors visible on your catfish’s skin. So ideally there will be no need to remove the skin from your catfish.

Many folks like to leave the skin on their fish. If you are one of them then do not forget to remove its slime as well. 

Step 2: Scrape the skin

As you have removed the slime from your fish’s skin, now it’s time to scrape the skin. Make sure you are scraping your fish’s skin in such a way that no slime is left on the skin.

Step 3: Wash the slime off

When you are done scraping your fish’s entire skin, remember to wash its slime off perfectly. For this reason, a dollar knife can come out to be a great handy. Just use it by sliding your knife towards your fish back and forth. 

Step 4: Cut along the backbone

Since we have washed off the slime, it is now time to cut along our catfish’s backbone. By cutting your fish’s backbone you can make a precise cutting if you go towards your fish’s tail fin. 

Step 5: Work on the belly

In the middle of your entire process, you will get to see some contaminants in the belly of your catfish. Not only that, you will hardly find any trouble while working on your catfish. To make your step proceed in a convenient way, leave your fish’s belly and start cutting right from its head.

Step 6: Go around your ribcage

Undoubtedly, you will reach to your fish’s rib cage, cut around it and take your knife towards the bones. Accordingly, bring your knife around your ribcage and break to the tail’s end of your fish. Anyways, do not forget to make the precision-cutting along with the backbone of your fish.

As a result, a fine boneless fillet will be on your hands. If your fillet is actually ready, remember to wash it with some clean water.

Step 7: Remove the dark mussel

Well, dark mussels in catfish are better to be removed. Similarly, you will see some dark mussels in your catfish which you are to remove at that time. All on all, you must keep a thin layer under the skin of your catfish.

Therefore, you will get two boneless fish with a nice cleaning.

Can you fillet a catfish in 15 seconds?

The answer is yes. You can actually fillet a catfish within 15 seconds only if you go through the main steps. Anyways, we are not going to include the steps of cleaning a knife or catfish with ice. Make sure you do these tasks prior to filleting a catfish.

Firstly, keep your catfish laid straight on a table where the pectoral fins and gill plate would be easy to catch. Then make an incision from the downside of your fish and you are to do that on both sides of your fish.

As you have made the incision properly, cut on its spine in order to reach the backbone. Afterwards, turn your fish upside down and space up your knife to get down towards the adipose fin. Hence, your knife will pop out and you need to peel the skin of your fish as well.

Now you have got a skinless fillet. So what remains at last is to store your catfish in a freezer or a ziploc bag. Without making any further delay, just keep your catfish in any one of these places simply.

As said before, your first task in this process is cleaning catfish fillet and catfish knife. Only then it will be possible to finish filleting within 15 seconds.

Frequently Asked Questions

#1. What is the best fillet knife for catfish?

Some amazing fillet knives for catfish are-

Made In Fishing Knife Set: Best Set Ever
Toadfish Stowaway Folding Fillet Knife: Best Compact
Plussino Fishing Fillet Knife Set: Best Value
KastKing Filet Knife Set: Best for Large Fishes
Bubba Li-Ion Electric Fillet Knife: Best Electric
Shun Gokujo Fillet Knife Set: Best Japanese Knife
Zwilling Four Star Filleting Knife: Best German Steel 
Wüsthof Classic Fish Fillet Knife: Best Overall

#2. Which knife is best for filleting fish?

There are a number of knives that are best for filleting fish. They are-

Wusthof Classic Ikon
KastKing Fillet Knife
Rapala Electric Knife
Bubba Tapered Flex
Morakniv Fishing Comfort
Kershaw Fillet Knife
Bubba Electric Fillet Knife
Rapala Fish Fillet Superflex
Dexter Russell Fillet Knife

3. Can you use a electric fillet knife on a catfish?

Well, an electric fillet knife provides precision-cutting of catfishes especially. Besides, a fillet catfish electric knife is equipped with gearing and motor. As a result, anyone can cut through meat in a click. Moreover, electric fillet knives are a great substitute to prepare large quantities of catfishes very quickly.

#4. How do you fillet a small catfish?

To fillet a small catfish, clean it first with some ice. Then straighten the body of the fish and use one of your hands to angle your fillet knife. And from the backbone of the fish, turn on your knife blade and start cutting up to its tail. Similarly, you can use your knife to cut the meat of your fish from its skin.

Well, catfishes come from clean water, so they are not very hard to fillet with an electric knife.


As the best consumed dinners, filleted fishes always stand first. Maximum folks rely on catfishes for their daily consumption. On that note, they have to work on filleting catfishes to have a better and clean dish. Before that, you must acquire those traits on how do you fillet a catfish. 

Hopefully the above guide could help you enough on how you can clean a catfish too. Thus, you will be able to clean your fish as well as fillet it accurately. Just make sure you do not miss any significant steps that play a great role in filleting and cleaning catfishes. Consequently, you will not find any complications while getting a clean and tidy fish.

Overall, the above steps will leave no stone unturned in pro

About Travis K. Foster

Hi, this is Travis K. Foster speaking, a passionate and expert cook. This blog is to introduce you to the best kitchen gadgets. Here I inform you how I find out the best tools for my kitchen. And I review all products after good research to help you to get the best options with more kitchen tips. Stay on, Have fun! Learn more...

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