How to Fillet a Trout with Electric Knife

Filleting trout with an electric fillet knife is easy and fast.

Once you trap your catch, you must identify the blade length you’ll need depending on fish size. Wear protective gloves, prepare a container to keep your catch fresh, and get a sharp electric knife to start filleting. Place the trout over a flat, non-slip surface and make an incision behind the gill plate. Slide the blade towards the tail to make a filet, and remove the rib bones. Lastly, insert the blade between meat and skin to produce a perfectly skinless trout filet.

Electric fillet knives are an optimal tool to fillet fish. Compared to manual knives, you don’t have to put in much effort and the activity takes much less time. Plus, it’s the fastest tool to clean trout right after catching them, which helps preserve the meat as fresh as possible. If you leave the trout unattended for a prolonged time, the internal organs will decompose quickly.

Tools Required

  • Bubba Lithium-Ion Cordless Electric Fillet Knife with a 7-inch blade.
  • A trash can or bucket with a plastic bag and a lid. These items allow you to dispose of the leftovers and keep flies away.
  • A cooler or bucket with water and ice. You will use these tools to preserve your rainbow trout, brown trout, sea trout, etc.
  • A flat, non-slip surface like a cutting board, log, or cleaning station.
  • A scaler (circumstantial). Some people prefer their speckled trout fillets cooked with skin. Use the scaler to remove the scales if that’s the case. The dull spine of a blade also works.
  • Pliers to remove bones.
  • A protective metal-mesh glove (optional). Wear a glove on your non-dominant hand to hold the fish and fillets while trimming or skinning.
  • A small EDC knife or fork (optional). It will help you secure the filets while removing the skin.

The tools labeled optional might be necessary if you’re filleting fish with electric knife for the first time.

What Size Fillet Knife Should You Use for Trout?

A 7-inch electric fillet knife is ideal for filleting and skinning trout. If the trout is of considerable size, consider using the 9-inch blade instead. Make sure to use the Bubba E-Flex blade for extra flexibility. It will come in handy while cutting meat close to the backbone and removing the skin.

Filleting a Speckled Trout with an Electric Fillet Knife – Step-by-step Guide

Follow the next steps to learn how to fillet a trout with electric knife. This method works with most trout specimens.

Step 1: Preparations

Find a non-slip flat surface to place the trout. You can use a cutting board at home and a log or cleaning station outside. Fill the cooler or bucket with water halfway and put ice in it. Wear your protection glove before engaging in any activity. Scaling isn’t necessary with an electric fillet knife, but you can do it if you don’t want to skin the fillet. Here’s how.

Grab the scaler firmly and place it close to the tail of your trout. Then, use it to rub the skin upward to the head. Repeat as many times as needed. Rinse the trout to ensure there are no more scales left.

Step 2: Cleaning the Trout

This filleting method doesn’t require you to gut the trout. However, here’s how you can start cleaning rainbow trout, lake trout, or other trout specimens if you prefer.

  1. Use the tip of the knife to make an incision from the anus toward the head, stopping right before hitting the jawline. Make sure to avoid cutting past the V-shaped section below the jaw.
  2. Put your finger inside the mouth of the trout, and expand the V-shaped section by pushing down. There should be some flesh connections around the V area, which you can slice with the knife. Then, break the V-shaped section free by gripping it with your hand and pulling down. Take out the gills and the trout’s entrails.
  3. Open the abdominal cavity with your hands, and take out the innards. Pour water and rinse to finish cleaning the trout.
  4. Look for the darkened red sac within the trout, which is a blood vein. Slice the membrane holding it to remove it.
  5. Rinse the trout thoroughly.
  6. Cut out the trout head and fins.

Step 2: Trout Positioning and Knife Grip

Place the fish over a flat non-slip surface with the belly facing you. Hold the knife in a hammer-like grip by wrapping your hand around the handle. Use the index finger to activate the knife, and put your thumb on the handle’s spine for more pressure.

Step 3: Make an Incision behind the Gill and Pectoral Fin

Place the blade at the top of where gill plate was, at 45 degrees with the cutting edge toward the head. Activate the electric knife, and bring the blade down to the fin. Stop when you make contact with the backbone.

Step 4: Filleting the Fish

Turn the blade the other way. It should lay parallel to the backbone, with the cutting edge now facing toward the tail at a 90-degree angle. Activate the knife and slide the blade to fillet the fish while using the backbone as a guide. Flip your trout to the other side over the table and repeat steps three and four.

Step 5: Remove the Rib Bones

Move the leftovers to the side or toss them into the trash can to leave room for the fillets. Grab a fixed blade fillet knife or fork and place it on the top corner of the fillet to hold it in place. Then, hold the knife parallel to the rib bones and then slice the rib section. While slicing, pull the blade slightly up into the bones to prevent cutting into the meat.

Run your finger over the fillet to look for any stray pin bones. If you find any, pull them out with your finger, pliers, or the tip of the knife.

Step 6: Remove the Skin

Put the fillet over the flat surface with the skin side down. Place the blade slightly above the tail, right about 1/2 inches from it. Hold the tail firmly with your protected hand, EDC knife, or fork. Start the knife at an angle, with the blade slicing between the skin and meat. Bring the knife blade to the other end to produce a perfect fillet.

Step 7: Preserve the Fish Fillet

The fillet is now ready to go into the cooler or bucket with ice and cold water. Wash it, and freeze it or cook it to make delicious fish filets!

Tips for Avoiding Common Mistakes When Filleting Trout

Filleting trout with electric fillet knife is easy, but it takes practice to master. However, we can address a few of the common mistakes most anglers make while filleting trout. Follow the below tips for filleting sea trout, lake trout, or any similarly-sized fish.

  • Consider the trout size. The ideal blade length to fillet trout heavily depends on its size. One of the reasons why I recommend the Bubba cordless fillet knives is that it comes with multiple blades of different sizes and rigidity, allowing you to fillet trout of different sizes.
  • Always use a sharp knife. Sharpened electric fillet knives make prepping trout easier and safer. The blade will practically do the job for you, and you only have to guide it. A sharp blade also reduces meat wastage by making smooth and cleaner cuts.
  • Be ready to waste some meat initially. Wasting meat is almost inevitable while learning to fillet a trout with electric fillet knife. Take your time and don’t rush it. If you want to save as much meat as possible, start from the top. Make an incision from the head to the tail of the trout. Then, work your way down to the belly slowly, using the backbone as a guide.
  • Make the most of the leftovers. The meat is the most delicious part of the fish, but other parts like the head are also excellent recipe ingredients. For instance, you can use it to make stews. Trout heads and bones also make for a tasty broth to complement soups.
  • Wear gloves to protect your hands and make sure to use the safety features of your electric fillet knife. It will help you avoid getting poked by stray bones or spines.
  • Turn on the blade lock when you stop or take a break. Also, turn off the device or unplug the cord after use if you have a corded knife at home. If you’re on an excursion on a boat, make sure to bring a cloth for easy cleanup if blood spills.


Is it necessary to gut the trout before filleting it?

You don’t need to gut or clean trout before filleting it. Multiple methods allow you to fillet fish while carefully avoiding the internal organs.

How to fillet trout without gutting it?

Use the electric fillet knife to make an incision behind the gill plate into the backbone. Turn the blade, and slide it along the backbone toward the tail. Trim the rib cage, and remove the meat from the skin by slicing from the tail upward.

Can you fillet trout without scaling it?

As opposed to salmon or northern pike that you can cook with scales, common methods to fillet trout require you to scale the fish first. Alternatively, you can also get rid of the scales when you remove the skin.

Do you have to skin fish before filleting it?

You don’t have to skin the fish before filleting it. It’s possible to make a fish fillet and remove the skin as the final step if you want to. Alternatively, leaving the skin on the fillet provides a crispy texture and added flavor after frying it.

Is it necessary to remove pin bones out of trout?

The pin bones in trout are soft and edible, but some people prefer to remove them. You may remove as many pin bones as possible to avoid any unexpected situations when you eat the fish filets.

Is it possible to fillet frozen trout?

Yes, you can fillet frozen trout only after defrosting it. Don’t try filleting it while frozen or you will damage the blade.

How much meat do you get from each fish filet?

If your trout is three pounds, you could likely get two pounds of meat without heads, bones, and innards.

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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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