How to Fillet Crappie With Electric Knife

Filleting crappie with an electric knife is a breeze. You need a flexible electric fillet knife with a 7-inch blade, a non-slip flat surface, and a fine crappie specimen. Use the knife to cut behind the gill plate, and turn the knife toward the tail. With the knife blade parallel to the backbone, cut through meat and bones down to the tail. Follow the same 90-degree angle technique to remove any rib bones and trim the skin for a perfect fillet.

Electric fillet knives (for example Bubba lithium-ion cordless knife) allow you to fillet more than 90 crappies with a single battery charge. It’s faster and easier to use than traditional fillet knives, and you don’t have to put in much effort either.

Tools Required

  • Bubba lithium-ion cordless electric fillet knife. The 7-inch E-flex bubba blade is ideal for crappie due to the blade’s small and thin design.
  • A trash can with a plastic bag and a lid to dispose of the fish leftover after filleting. If you’re on a lake or river, a small bucket can do.
  • A cooler with ice and water to preserve the fillets. Alternatively, use a bucket half filled with water and ice.
  • A cutting board. In the wild, you can use a log, cleaning station, or any flat, non-slip surface.
  • A scaler to remove the scales from the skin. Using this tool is up to you. Filleting crappie with electric knife doesn’t require descaling.
  • An EDC knife, fork, or similar utensil. It will help you hold the filet while removing the skin.
  • A metal-mesh fishing glove for protection.

What Size Fillet Knife Should You Use for Crappie?

Use an electric fillet knife with a 7-inch flexible blade to fillet crappie. This blade size is small and narrow enough to cut through white and black crappie with minimal meat wastage.

Step by Step Instruction for Filleting Crappie with Electric Fillet Knife

Filleting crappie with an electric knife is easy and fast. Follow this method to create delicious fillets with minimal meat wastage.

Step 1: Preparations

If you’re outdoors, make sure the boat is steady. Find a base for your cutting board or non-slip surface. Place the trash container close, and fill the cooler halfway with water and ice. Wear your protective glove, too. Since crappie are usually small, there’s no need to gut them or remove the scales. If you still want to do it, here’s how you can clean crappie with electric fillet knife.

  • Scale crappie by holding the scaler over the tail and rubbing it upward to the head. Repeat as many times as needed. The dull blade spine also works well for this task.
  • For gutting, make a straight cut with a sharp fillet knife from the anus up to the head’s lower section. Remove the entrails and rinse with water.

Step 2: Position the Fish and Hold the Knife

Lay the fresh fish horizontally over the flat surface with the belly towards you. Hold the knife in a hammer grip by wrapping your palm around the handle. Use the index finger to pull the trigger of your electric knife and the thumb on the handle’s spine for more pressure.

Step 3: Cut behind the Gill Plate and Pectoral Fin

Lift the pectoral fin, and use the electric knife to make an incision behind the gill plate. The blade must be at a 45-degree angle, and you must not cut through the backbone. Let go of the trigger once you make contact with it.

Step 4: Making Crappie Fillets

With the blade inside the incision, rotate the blade and hold the knife horizontally at 90 degrees. One side must be over the backbone, and the cutting edge toward the tail. Activate the electric knife and bring it down to the tail using the backbone as a guide.

If the blade shakes the spine or rib cage, stop for a moment. Release the knife and approach the task from a different angle. This is the easiest way to fillet a crappie, black or white crappie of small size.

Turn the crappie over and repeat the process.

Step 5: Take out the Rib Bones

Place the fish fillets over the flat surface with the meat side up. Use the pocket knife or fork to hold the corner of the fillet down. Set the knife parallel to the rib bones, and turn it on to cut the bones out. Angle the blade slightly upward to avoid cutting the meat while cleaning crappie boneless.

By this point, you must also consider the pin bones. Small crappie have soft pin bones that are edible, but some people don’t like to fry the fillets with these bones still in them. If that’s your case, you can easily remove them while removing the rib bones.

Use your index finger to rub the middle section of the fillet and spot the pin bones. Once you know where they are, use the electric fillet knife to scoop the pin bones and rib bones in a single cutting motion.

Step 6: Skinning the Fillet

Use the fork or pocket knife to poke the fillet’s small end and secure it in place. Then, turn on the electric fillet knife to cut between the meat and skin. Rotate the knife at a 90-degree angle, and bring it all the way to the other end to separate the meat from the skin.

Step 7: Keep the Fish Fresh!

Place the fillets in a cooler with water and ice. The head and backbone can be good ingredients for soups and broths, so you may want to freeze them. Lastly, clean up your workspace.

Tips for Avoiding Common Mistakes When Filleting Crappie

Filleting crappie with electric fillet knives is a valuable skill for anglers that deal with heavy workloads. Make sure to put the following tips into practice to go from an average to an efficient angler.

  • Know Your Crappie: Once you fillet crappie using electric knife, take a look at its skeleton. You’ll notice how the rib cage comes out slightly, which is why knives often get stuck in it. The trick here is to fillet the fish while knowing how to cut around the rib cage’s contour.
  • Don’t Waste Anything: Use the leftovers once you are done with the filleting. Some use the heads for soups or broths, which make delicious dishes. Put them in plastic bags and freeze the leftovers.
  • Don’t forget to wear fish cleaning gloves to avoid accidents. The fin spine can poke your fingers, which can lead to infections. Always be aware of fins or spines pricking your hand whether you’re on a crappie fishing, bass fishing or any other fishing excursion.


Do You Have to Scale Crappie?

You don’t have to scale crappie if you use electric fillet knives. The blades and motorized handle pull through scales and skin with ease. Consider scaling crappie only if you prefer eating the fish fillets with skin attached.

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About Tom Hammaker

Tom Hammaker is a freelance copywriter with a specialty in advertorial blog posts. He’s worked with small local business owners and taken on larger projects with clients like Proctor and Gamble. He wrote his first direct marketing piece when he was a jobless teenager back in high school. It was a flyer for a landscaping business he was trying to start. The result? The mailing absolutely BOMBED! When he is not working, he's either out on the water fishing or playing golf. You can find him here on LinkedIn or his personal website

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