How to Fillet a Fish 

filleting a fish

Catching fish and not knowing how to fillet a fish isn’t a pleasant situation to be in. When we don’t know how to cut fish fillets on our own, we have to spend some extra dollars to get them done by the anglers. No doubt they do their jobs flawlessly, but why spend extra when we can fillet a fish being at home in our kitchens? 

We will tell you a simple step-by-step method for how to fillet fish at home like a pro fish filleter. Before you know how to cut a fish, you should know how to clean a fish. Because for butchering fish, first, you will need to clean fish. And we have already sorted that for you by presenting the five easiest steps for cleaning fish,

  • Bleeding fish: Bleed a freshly caught fish by cutting the dense artery near the gills with a sharp knife. Place the knife near that artery and cut it while placing the knife away from you. 
  • Scaling fish: Scale the fish by using a fish scaling tool. Scrap off the scales by sliding the scaler in the opposite direction of the scales. However, if you don’t want a mess in your kitchen, you can also ask the fishmonger to do it for you. 
  • Gutting fish: Now, gut the fish by making a small cut in the fish’s belly from the gills to the anus. Using your fingers or a spoon, remove all the entrails inside the fish. 
  • Cutting fins: Cut all the fins (dorsal, anal, pelvic, and pectoral fins) with scissors. You can also cut the tail if you want; otherwise, you can remove it while filleting fish. 

Now, rinse the cleaned fish with running water and wash off any blood or sticky scales left on it. And now, we can move forward to our main task, which is fish filleting. 

How to Filet a Fish? 

For perfect fish flays, what matters the most is how do you fillet a fish? And for that, we bring you the best method. You will need a few supplies for filleting a fish, including a sharp filleting knife, a cutting board, kitchen tweezers or fish pliers, and a chef’s knife (optional). 

Filleting fish includes only three steps which are,

  1. Cutting up fish fillets
  2. Deboning fish fillets
  3. Skinning (optional) 

Here is how to butcher a fish and make amazing fillets with these three easy steps within a few minutes,

how to cut a fish fillet

How to Cut Fish Fillets?

Follow these steps for cutting fish fillets in a flash,

  • Wash and Dry the FIsh: Wash and dry the fish before filleting it and place it on a cutting board while keeping the top of the fish facing you. 
  • Cut Behind the Gills: Take a sharp filleting or chef’s knife and cut right behind the fish gills halfway to the backbone. 
  • Make an Incision: Place your other hand firmly on the fish and make a shallow incision starting from that cut. Make sure the cut is as near to the spinal cord as possible. 
  • Cut Along the Rib Bones: Keep the knife parallel to the fish and start sliding the razor-sharp tip from the head to the tail while passing through the dorsal fin point. Slide the knife exactly by the bones to ensure minimum meat waste and stop cutting when you reach near the tail. 
  • Separate the Fillet: Now open the fish with this cut and fillet the fish using the entire knife blade while using the backbones as a guide for cutting. And separate the whole fillet this way. 
  • Cut Second Fillet: Make a cut near the gills on the other side using the same way and now slide under the bones to achieve another fillet. You can also flip the fish and fillet using the same method on the other side as well. 
  • Remove Belly Fat and Dorsal Fin: Now remove small dorsal fin bones and belly fats by cutting them from the bottom of each fillet.

See? Here, you have two freshly cut fish fillets. Click here to watch a similar video of filleting fish

YouTube video

How to Debone Fish? 

  • Use a Deboning Tool: Start by holding a kitchen tweezer, fish pliers, or a deboning knife to debone the fillets. 
  • Feel the Bones: Using your fingertip, identify the bones you feel inside the fillets. 
  • Remove Them with the Tweezers: Pluck and remove these bones one by one while holding the fillet with your other hand to keep it in place. Make sure not to remove fish meat while removing bones. 
  • Ensure There Are No Bones: Keep finding and removing bones with the same technique. And when you think you are done, again try feeling any bones that might be left on the thickest part of the meat. 

Deboning is a very important step in fish filleting because no one wants to have a bite of a fish fillet with a bone hiding inside it. Watch this video to know the exact method of deboning fish.

salmon fish fillet

How to Skin Fish Fillets? 

Skinning fish is an optional step, and you can keep the skin on if you prefer cooking fish with skin. And if you want to skin fish fillet, follow the process step by step,

  • For skinning fillet fish, lay the fillet on the cutting board with the skin facing the top. 
  • Use a flexible, sharp, and best fillet knife.
  • Slide the fillet knife starting from one corner to another. 
  • Keep stretching the skin in the opposite direction with your other hand while ensuring the thickness of the skin is as thin as possible. 
  • After removing the skin, cut it into small fillets with the size according to your liking. 


Q1: How to fillet every fish? 

The filleting technique for most fish is the same, and you can undoubtedly use the above filleting method to fillet every fish. 

Q2: What does filet mean? 

A filet is a boneless piece of fleshy and juicy meat of any animal. This meat belongs to the area near the ribs and chests of animals. 

Q3: What is fish fillet? 

A fish fillet is a slice of boneless meat achieved from both sides of fish ribs. In fish, we have to remove more bones than other animals, and the meat near the gills is the juiciest part of fish fillets.


Filleting a fish at home will no more be a problem because now you know how to fillet a fish. You can now fillet anytime and season your filleted fish with your favorite fish flay recipe seasonings. Or, if you are not planning to cook them instantly, you can keep them in the freezer in a ziplock bag for up to 2-3 months and enjoy them later.

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