fish cleaning table full of crappie

How to filet crappie like a pro [TWO different ways!]

Crappie are fun to catch and an incredible-tasting freshwater fish. Many fisherman try to filet crappie, only to be frustrated (especially on the smaller ones), as they typically do not have as large of a filet as a largemouth bass or striped bass, for example.

In this article, I’m going to show you step-by-step how to filet a crappie. I’m going to show you two different ways on the same fish.

black crappie being held

Below are two different ways to clean crappie like a pro!

How To Clean Crappie Step-By-Step

Time needed: 3 minutes.

How to Filet crappie (2 ways)

  1. Cut down backbone with filet knife

    Make an incision at the head, turn the knife and follow the bones of the spine with the tip of the knife. Cut all the way down past the tail.

    how to clean crappie step 1

  2. Cut the underside of the crappie.

    Make another incision, this time from the bottom of the fish between tail and anal fin. Run the tip of your filet knife all the way to the pelvic fin.

    cleaning crappie step 2

  3. Filet meat away from the spine.

    Working again from the top of the fish, pull the meat away from the spine, as you use the knife to get meat away from the rib bones.

    crappie method 1 step 3

  4. Once you have exposed the ribs, you can insert your filet knife at the back of the ribcage and cut through it, cutting toward the head. Once you finish cutting at the head, cut the filet off right at the gil.

    crappie method 1 step 4

  5. Remove skin from back of filet.

    Cut down into meat at the tail, holding the end of the tail against the cutting board. Begin cutting between meat and skin, cutting away from you. As you cut, you can move the tail back and forth, which will move the knife further down the filet, until it exits at the other end of the filet.

    crappie method 1 step 5

  6. Cut out the ribcage.

    Once you have removed the skin, cut out the ribcage from the filet. Done!

    crappie method 1 step 6

  7. Do other side of fish (second method)

    Now that you’ve fileted one side of the fish, let’s do the other side, but in a slightly different manner. This time, instead of cutting through the ribcage, cut the filet off the fish right at the top of it.

    crappie method 2 step 1

  8. Remove skin and compare two filets.

    Once you have cut the filet off the fish near the top of the ribcage, it will look like you left a lot of meat on the fish. However, once you remove the skin as you did before and lay them side by side, you will see they are nearly identical. The only difference is that you didn’t have to cut through the ribcage (dulling your knife) and then remove it.

    crappie method 2 step 2




And there you have TWO different ways to filet crappie, both producing identical filets.

These methods works for grouper, striped bass, and many other types of fish. Of course, it helps to have a bigger knife if you get a bigger fish.




Crappie cleaning instructional video

If you’d like to see and instructional video on how to clean crappie, click below!

Learn two easy ways to filet a crappie!





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