Filleting Tip: Cut the Second Filet First

I learned a nice filleting tip many years ago while out on a party boat, where the mate, an accomplished cod cutter, showed me a technique I had never seen before. Have you ever noticed that the first fillet you take off a fish usually comes out better than the second one? This is because there is nothing left to support the spine after the first fillet is removed, and the fish will bend, as the head is still keeping the front of the fish elevated off the cutting board. To resolve this problem, try this trick. Begin filleting the fish as you normally would, cutting along the top fins from head to tail. Once you get down to the spine, stop, leaving the fillet attached to the frame. Now flip the fish over, and fillet the other side. When you go back to get the second fillet, your cut will already be started, and you’ll just need to finish it off. It will take you a little longer to cut the fish, but it will result in better fillets.

Cut down the spine on the first filet, then flip the fish over.

Cut down the spine on the first filet, then flip the fish over.

Now remove the second filet. Flip the fish over again and finish off the first filet.

Now remove the second filet. Flip the fish over again and finish off the first filet.

  1. William Wilson

    Sounds like a good idea but does it work on small fish like Norfolk Spot?

    Reply
  2. Brent

    Yes William, it will work on any sized fish. I was in the seafood business for 16 years and this is how I filleted all my fish…

    Reply
      • lenny

        underside first follow lateral line filet flip over start behind the head fish cutter in ground fish plant and dogfish plant

        Reply
  3. NEWYANKEEWORKSHOP59@YAHOO.COM

    WHAT A GREAT WAY TO FILLET A FISH. DOING IT LIKE THAT YOU CAN HAVE MORE MEAT ON YOUR FILLETS. I AM GLAD IT WAS POSTED SO I COULD READ THIS. THANKS HOWARD E.

    Reply
  4. Zach Anderson

    Great tip! I’m going to share it in my show! 2 Pound Test and A Bare Hook.

    Reply
    • Rob

      We call this the “Jersey Cut.” Works great on all size fish. On big stripers or any fish with big tough scales, I use a sharp Buck knife to make the initial cuts then shift to the filet knife. I always cut the blood line out as well. Proper preparation is the key to a great meal.

      Reply

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