How to Fillet a Crappie with an Electric Knife?

Kristian Ole



You asked and we heard! Here is the detailed guide on how to fillet a crappie with an electric knife. Crappie is one of the best fish you’ll ever taste. The best thing about this fish is that it can be caught all around the year. You can catch it through angling as well as ice fishing.

There’s nothing better than enjoying fresh fish that you caught yourself. However, catching the fish is just a small part of the whole story. In fact, with the best fish finder for crappie, catching the fish is the easiest part.

You still have to clean the fish before you can prepare it for eating. And, you may already know that cleaning a crappie is not that easy.

It takes quite a lot of effort and time to make fillets out of the bunch. Obviously, not everyone is well-versed with the techniques used to clean the fish.

So, let’s talk about how to fillet a crappie with an electric knife.

First, let us tell you why an electric knife is great…

With an electric knife, you can fillet an entire bucket of crappies very quickly. In fact, an electric knife takes about half the time as compared to a traditional one.

The process of using both a conventional knife and an electric knife is very similar. However, if you are using a regular knife, it will be quite tedious to make those precise cuts and prepare the fillet.

So, thanks to an electric knife, you will be saving both your time but also your strength and energy.

According to stats released by the Sport Fishing Institute, about 48 million freshwater fish are caught every year. However, nearly two million pounds of fish go to waste. This is because not everyone knows how to fillet a crappie with an electric knife.

So, without further ado, let’s discuss how to fillet a crappie with an electric knife.

How to Fillet a Crappie with an Electric Knife?

You can make a fish fillet with skin and without it as well. So, make sure that you have decided how you want your fillet before you get started.


The following is the list of the tools you will need to fillet a crappie with an electric knife:

  1. Electric Fillet Knife
  2. Cutting Board
  3. Gloves
  4. Ice (to keep the fish fresh)

Steps to Clean the Fish & Preparing to Fillet

  • Prepare the Fish

The first step is to prepare the fish. You can prepare by setting up your cutting area first. You will need a cutting area as well as a bucket full of water. Make sure that the water is cold as it will help to clean the dirt and blood from the fish.

It is a good idea to have some basic knowledge about the bones in the fish. Otherwise, you could end up cutting it in the wrong way and some of the bones will end up on your plate.

After you open the fish, remove all the innards. You can throw them in the cold water to clean them.

  • Choose the Tool

The next step is to choose the tool you will be using. You must have the right tool for filleting. Choosing the best electric fillet knife will make your process easier.

Steps to Fillet Crappie with an Electric Knife

Once the fish is clean and you have the electric knife ready, it is time to start. You can follow the following steps to start filleting.

  1. Placing the Fish the Right Way

Place the fish on the cutting board horizontally. Make sure that the fish head is facing the left side if you are right-handed. If you are left-handed, you would want the fish’s head to be pointing towards your right.

This makes it easier to glide through the fish, instead of having to turn it every time. If you don’t have a cutting board, you can also use another level surface – even the edge of your fishing boat.

  1. Cutting the Head of the Fish

Now that the fish is placed correctly, it is time to start cutting. The sharp side of the electric knife should be pointing towards the head of the fish. Apply pressure gently and cut in behind the pectoral fin of the fish. The pectoral fins of the crappie are located just behind the gills.

  1. Steps to Fillet without Removing Skin

If you plan to fillet with skin, you can follow these guidelines.

  1. Remove the scales of the crappie before you start the actual cutting.
  2. Once you have removed the scales of the fish, slip the knife horizontally to cut through the fish. It is essential that you keep the backbone intact because it will help you use it as a guide while you are cutting.
  3. You can easily remove the rib cage of the crappie with the pointed part of your knife.
  4. The fillet is ready.

4. Steps to Fillet by Removing Skin

If you plan to have a skinless fillet, then you can follow these steps.

  1. Apply gentle pressure on the crappie with your palm. You can move the knife until it is close enough to the tail of the fish. Make sure that you do not cut through the tail.
  2. After you have made the cut, you can flip it open.
  3. Next, you have to remove the ribs of the fish. Make sure that you apply light pressure with your knife below the attached rib cage. This will be easy as you have not cut through the tail of the fish.
  4. Next, fill the areas of the fillet where the bones are. This will help you make sure that there are no pin bones left. In case there are, now is the right time to remove them.
  5. After the fillet is bone-free it is time to slip it into the cold-water bucket.
  6. Repeat all of the above steps on the side.
  7. Your skinless fillet is ready.

How to Fillet a Crappie with an Electric Knife? – Tried & Tested Tips

We have also made a list of a few tips that will help you fillet your crappie without any worries.

You must get a grip on the electric knife before you worry about saving the meat. Once you are comfortable with your knife, everything else will come naturally. It is quite easy to make fillet when you have control over the movement of your knife. Therefore, don’t think that you will be an expert at filleting the moment you start using the knife.

As a beginner, you will have some unequal fillets or there might be lesser meat in the fish. The electric knife moves quite fast so you will struggle with it the first time. Therefore, you must keep in mind that fishing requires some patience as well as practice.

The good news is that even if you end up having more meat on the bones rather than the fish, you can always use the scraps for making fish sauce, broth or stock.

After you have prepared the fillets, make sure that you place them on ice. So, if you are planning to clean your crappie on site, you must have a cooler to keep them cold. This will ensure that the fish stay fresh until you get home.

You can also dress the fish immediately and chill the fillets in plastic bags rather than bringing a cooler. It is also a good idea to use saltwater ice. The salt content in the ice will help you keep the fish fresher.

If you notice any blood or scales left on the fish, you will have to wash them with cold water before you cook them. Some people don’t wash the fish properly as it soaks up the water and becomes difficult to cook. If you have that issue, you can pat the fish dry with paper towels.


Crappies are not only fun to catch but they are also very delicious to eat. After a long day at the river, nothing can be better than treating yourself with delicious crappie. If this sounds attractive to you, you must know how to fillet a crappie with an electric knife.

Fortunately, you don’t have to be an expert to do this. Cleaning the crappie is a little tricky, but it is not all that complicated as some people make it seem to be.

All you need is an electric knife and this article! You might also want to carry gloves if you don’t want to get your hands dirty.

Now that you know how to fillet a crappie with an electric knife, it’s time to get started. Your fish will be ready to serve in no time, literally from the sea to the table.


About Kristian Ole

Kristian Ole Rørbye, a marine biologist and seasoned angler, shares his fishing adventures and expertise on FishingKris. Join him as he explores the world's waters, one cast at a time.

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