Every now and again you catch something really special. It might be a crafty catfish in your favorite fishing hole that you’ve been after for a spell or a surprise ‘whopper’ that simply has to be seen to be believed. Maybe it’s your grandchild’s first fish that you’ve caught together! Whatever the case, you want to keep it, which brings us to the question – Are all fish mounts replicas?

All fish mounts are not replicas; some contain original parts such as the head, fins, skin, and teeth. However, they typically include a foam core or other replicated components to maintain the structure.

In this article, we’re going to tell you about the 2 ‘flavors’ of fish mounting – replication and taxidermy – and we’ll go into the pros and cons of both so that if you decide that you want to keep a trophy, you can make an informed decision about the one that fits your needs and personal outlook the best!

Are All Fish Mounts Replicas?


First and foremost, we should clear up a common misconception about taxidermy.

While we tend to think of animals preserved with taxidermy as being the actual animal, there are a whole lot of substitutions that are put into place to provide something that is partially the actual animal, but also partially artificial.

Things like glass eyes, filler foam, and finely-painted fiberglass body parts are combined with actual parts of the animal. With fish there what you’re going to get will might be a 100% ‘replica fish’, or it might be a replica that just has the actual teeth.

With taxidermy, however, more parts may be kept, such as the skin, fins, head, and teeth, but even so, supportive materials like that foam need to be in place to give the trophy a lively and realistic appearance.

So, it’s probably the most accurate to say that fish mounts are all replicas to some degree and it’s your decision HOW MUCH of a degree that is going to be. There are pros and cons to full and partial replicas, of course, so let’s look at those to paint you a complete picture of your options.

Replicas – Are they real?

YouTube video

Back in the day, you could spot a replica fish from a mile away, but times have changed. We’re in the age of 3D printers, after all, and software that can analyze pictures of your catch can create a model so realistic that you might feel a moment of disconnect when you pick it up and it’s simply too light for how it looks!

There are also some arguably good reasons for going the ‘replica route’, as well. Let’s say you’ve been looking for a particular fish for years and one day you finally catch it!

You might want to go simply snap a picture and go the ‘catch and release’ route out of respect for that crafty foe you’ve been trying to get for so long.

Back in the day, that would mean your trophy would pretty much be that photo, and while that still provides the fun of telling your friends whoppers like ‘that angle makes it look a whole lot smaller’, a framed picture at home just isn’t the same.

With modern methods, however, those same pictures and descriptions can produce museum-quality replicas of your catch. Read this guide to learn in detail if you can get fish mounts just from a picture.

Now, before we move on to taxidermy, we’ll cover the pros and cons of this option below and give you some quick photo tips that you can use if you’d like to go the ‘reproduction route’.


  • ‘You can ‘catch and release’ that fish if you want without harming anything more than its pride. Learn more about how to get a fish mounted without killing it.
  • Some family members get ‘particular’ about taxidermy, but a 100% synthetic replica lets you have your trophy anyway.
  • While some replicas have a plaster base, most replicas these days will be gel-coated resins or fiberglass, so they look amazing. Check out this guide on what fish replicas are made of to learn more.
  • Replicas are easier to repair than a ‘skin mount’ if it becomes damaged. See how long a fish skin mount can last to know more.
  • If you’re fishing for dinner, you could still have a trophy with real teeth if that’s what you like!
  • The aesthetics are almost always better with a replica – taxidermy is an art but working with real parts of a fish is a lot harder and creative decisions may need to be made to ensure a certain level of realism.


  • Some fishermen don’t want a replica, they want as much of the fish that they caught as they can keep – period.
  • Quality varies, so if you want a good-looking replica then you’ll need to do a little homework to ensure that you don’t get some ‘puffed-up fish model’ as a trophy for a trip that’s important to you.
  • If you don’t have enough photos, then there’s no guarantee what you might get.

Photo tips for getting the most realistic replicas

Now that you’ve heard the pros and cons of replica mounts, we’ve got a few quick tips for taking your photos and getting the data you need to make a replica worth your while. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Keep your scale and your tape measure handy – a quick measurement of length and girth, along with a quick weigh-in before you release the fish is important for getting that replica right.
  • Get photos of BOTH sides of your fish and get a few different angles. This will help to get as much color and detail as possible for creating a replica worth having.

Skin mounts are as real as it gets

Taxidermy is an art and sadly, it’s been fading out for a long time and so it’s much harder to find someone who knows what they are doing. Thankfully, the internet catches up with the slack so that it’s arguably easier to find a good taxidermist, even if there are a whole lot fewer of them.

For some folks, skin mounts are the ONLY mounts that are worthwhile to display at home, because they’re going to contain as much of the fish as may be realistically preserved. The skin, head, fins, and teeth will all be there in a ‘full’ skin mount trophy treatment, although the mass inside the body will be synthetic by necessity.

What typically happens is the taxidermist is going to skin your fish, applying preservatives to the parts that they will be saving, and these will be fitted to a foam or similar-type mold in order to maintain a realistic shape.

Short of plastination (where plastic is injected into a specimen to preserve EVERYTHING), skin mounts are about as ‘real’ as it gets when it comes to a traditional fishing trophy. Let’s look at the pros and cons and then we’ll share some tips for preserving your fish for taxidermy if that’s what you’d like to do!


  • For some, a skin mount is the only ‘real’ trophy and this may even be an important family tradition.  Let’s face it – a replica is a replica, but a skin mount is most of the actual fish that someone in your family caught and held and that’s priceless.
  • Taxidermy is becoming a bit of a ‘lost art’ but for those who appreciate it, owning a skin mount trophy is very special.
  • If you know what you’re doing, you can ‘have your fish and eat it too’!
  • As with replicas, the quality of the work will depend on the artistry of your taxidermist and the good ones can be hard to find these days.


  • The ‘Poses’ of your fish will be limited to what looks realistic, and the size and condition of the specimen will determine that.
  • Some members of the family might be averse to or even scared of a skin mount fish or other taxidermic preservations – it’s becoming a ‘lost art’ and as a result, reactions to skin mounts can vary quite a bit and generate friction in the home.
  • Skin mounts can last a very long time, but replicas are practically immortal.

Preparing your fish for preservation

Before we wrap things up, we’ve collected a few quick tips to help you if you would like to get a quality skin mount from a special catch that you intend to keep. Here are some ‘preservation pointers’ that might come in handy:

  • Use that net – Getting the fish in your boat with as little fuss as possible will preserve it the best. Get it close and net it whenever you can. The fight is part of the thrill, but can do a lot of damage, too.
  • Don’t forget photos – Photos help to provide the taxidermist with important color and ‘fresh caught size’ reference and for good measure, literally give that fish a ‘good measure’ with your measuring tape and a quick weight on the scale. You can use these for reference too if you don’t like the finished look, so don’t skip this!
  • Quick preservation in a pinch – Fine grain, NON-BLEACHING borax can be applied over to a dead fish to help preserve color before freezing and some tackle shops have their own color=preservation solutions. Wrap the fish up in a wet towel GENTLY after applying the preservative to avoid damaging the fins. Wrap that in plastic and with a marker, write your fishing license number and date and place caught on the bag just in case a conservation officer shows up while you’re delivering it – it never hurts to be ready!

You can check out our detailed guide on how to preserve a fish for mounting to know more.


So we’ve answered the question are all fish mounts replicas? and the answer is that they are all replicas to some extent. You have 100% replicas that have no part of the fish at all and are simply high-tech re-creations done with photos, gel resins, or fiberglass, and then you’ve got skin mounts, which use parts of the actual fish and usually have foam core providing density.

What you choose, of course, is up to you, but now that you have the facts about both popular types of mounts and the pros and cons for each, it should be a little easier to decide which option will be the best fit for you.

Now if you’re looking for the best fish replica mounts, don’t forget to browse our shop. We have got lots of elegant metal fish replica mounts that are worth adding as a home decor art piece.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *