difference between fish mount and replica

Just reeled in a big catch? Great!

So now, should you go with a fish skin mount or a replica?

Both options have their advantages and disadvantages, but understanding the key differences is crucial.

The main difference between a fish mount and a replica is the material used. A fish mount uses the actual skin of the caught fish, while a replica is made from synthetic material like fiberglass, based on photos and measurements.

However, there are also other differences to consider depending on factors like cost, durability, and more.

In this post, we do a detailed breakdown of the difference between fish mount and replica, comparing them side-by-side so that you can easily choose the best option to showcase your prized catch.

Let’s get started!

What Is A Fish Mount?

fish mount

A fish mount is a way to preserve and display a memorable catch. It involves taking the actual fish you caught to a taxidermist.

They’ll carefully remove the skin, treat it with chemicals, and mount it on a mold made to resemble the fish’s body.

The process takes skill and time. A quality mount can last for many years with proper care. Fish mounts are usually done for trophy-sized catches that hold special meaning for the angler.

The taxidermy process typically takes 6-12 months. Expect to pay $15 per inch of fish or more for a quality mount, depending on the size and species.

Proper care, including keeping it dusted and out of direct sunlight, helps maintain its appearance.

What Is A Replica?

fish replica wall mounted

A replica is an artificial copy of a fish, made to look just like the real catch. No actual fish skin is used. Instead, the taxidermist makes a mold and paints it to match photos of your catch.

Replicas have gained popularity in recent years. Some anglers prefer them since no fish is killed. It allows you to release the actual catch while still getting a lifelike mount to remember it by.

The replica is crafted from fiberglass or other durable materials. Explore more about what fish replicas are made of.

Painting is done by hand with careful attention to recreating the fish’s details and colors.

The process often involves extensive photo reference of the actual catch.

Replicas come in a few main types as follows:

Material:Quick Overview:
FiberglassMade from fiberglass mold, very durable
ResinCast from resin, can include intricate details
MetalMade from metal using special printing techniques

Turnaround time is often faster than skin mounts, around 3-8 months. Prices are slightly higher to traditional mounts, starting at $15-$30 per inch of fish and up based on size.

With no organic material, replicas tend to last longer and require less upkeep than skin mounts. An occasional light dusting is typically all that’s needed. Keeping them out of the direct sun also helps preserve the colors.

What Is The Difference Between Fish Mount And Replica?

While both fish skin mount and replicas result in a realistic representation of your fish, there are some key differences to consider.

1. Source Material

Fish Mount – A traditional mount uses the actual skin of your catch, carefully removed and preserved by a taxidermist. It’s mounted on a mold shaped like the fish’s body.

Replica – A replica is a completely artificial recreation of your fish. No real skin is used. Instead, photos and measurements of your catch are used to create a highly detailed fiberglass or resin copy.

Key Takeaway – Mounts use the actual fish skin, while replicas are entirely artificial copies made using materials like fiberglass or resin based on photos of your catch.

2. Cost

Fish Mount – Prices vary based on fish size and species complexity. Expect to pay around $150-$400 for a typical mount. Some large or complex designs can cost $600 or more.

Looking for high-quality but budget-friendly alternatives to fish mounts? Check out our post on cheap fish replicas to learn more.

Replica – Replica pricing is similar to traditional mounts, usually starting around $150-$300. Larger sizes and more detailed paint jobs increase the cost.

Key Takeaway – Costs are comparable between the two options, with replicas occasionally running a bit higher than basic skin mounts. Budget $150-$400 for either type.

3. Durability

Fish Mount – When cared for properly, a well-done fish mount can easily last 5-10 years or longer. However, the organic materials are prone to fading and cracking over extended time.

To learn more about the lifespan of fish skin mounts read this detailed guide discussing how long fish skin mounts typically last.

Replica – Replicas boast excellent durability due to their synthetic materials. A quality replica can last decades with minimal deterioration. Colors and details remain vibrant longer.

Key Takeaway – Replicas typically have a longer lifespan than skin mounts. They better withstand the tests of time, especially in rooms with changing humidity or bright sunlight.

4. Maintenance

Fish Mount – Fish mounts need regular dusting and light cleaning. Keeping them away from direct sun and humidity slows deterioration. Occasional professional reconditioning helps maintain their look.

Replica – Replicas are quite low maintenance. A light dusting a few times a year is usually sufficient. No oils or solvents should be used. Keep them out of direct sun to preserve colors.

Key Takeaway – Both types need some basic upkeep, but replicas are hardier and less demanding than skin mounts. Occasional cleaning and avoiding harsh environments benefits both.

5. Preparation

Fish Mount – Traditional mounts require you to bring the whole fish to the taxidermist. They need to remove the skin and prepare it before mounting. The process takes a while, often 6-12 months.

Replica – Replicas only need detailed photos and measurements of your catch. This allows you to release the fish alive if you choose. The replica is then crafted in 3-8 months on average.

Key Takeaway – Replicas offer a more catch-and-release friendly option. You can get a lifelike mount made without using the actual fish. The turnaround time is often a bit faster too. Learn more about how you can get amazing fish replica mounts just from a picture.

Advantages And Disadvantages

fish mount and replica differences

Fish Mounts


  • Uses the actual skin of your catch, providing a genuine connection to the memory.
  • Often slightly less expensive than replicas, especially for smaller fish.
  • Unique piece since it’s made from your specific catch.
  • Some anglers prefer the idea of preserving the actual fish they caught.


  • Requires harvesting the fish, which may not align with catch-and-release practices.
  • Skin is prone to shrinking, cracking, and fading over time, especially if it is kept in suboptimal conditions.
  • Regular maintenance and touch-ups are needed to keep the mount looking its best.
  • Turnaround time is often longer than replicas due to the more involved taxidermy process.
  • Limited poses available since the mount is made from the actual fish body.


Redfish Wall Art Replica facing right


  • Allows for a completely catch-and-release approach since no actual fish is used.
  • Made from durable synthetic materials that better withstand the tests of time.
  • Requires minimal maintenance, generally just occasional light dusting.
  • Colors and details tend to stay vibrant and lifelike longer than skin mounts.
  • Can be made to mimic practically any pose or position desired.
  • Faster turnaround time since only photos and measurements are needed from the angler.


  • Lacks the authentic factor of using the actual fish you caught.
  • Tends to cost a bit more than basic skin mounts, especially for larger fish.
  • Some extremely fine details may be harder to recreate compared to a skin mount.
  • Occasional imperfections or bubbling can occur if the molding process has issues.
  • A few anglers simply prefer the tradition and nostalgia of skin mounts.

Fish Mount vs. Replica – Which One To Choose?

Do you want the genuine skin of your actual catch, or are you okay with an artificial recreation? 

Fish mounts use the real skin, giving a tangible connection to the moment. Replicas are meticulously crafted copies, but some anglers prefer knowing it’s the real deal.

Now, if you strongly prefer releasing fish, a replica allows you to do so while still getting a beautiful mount made. With traditional mounts, the fish typically needs to be used up in the mounting process.

Fish mounts are also more susceptible to shrinking, cracking, and fading over the years, especially if kept in rooms with changing humidity or bright light.

Whereas, replicas are made from strong materials that better withstand the tests of time.

Prices for both options are comparable, usually starting around $150-$400 based on fish size. Large specimens or elaborate paint jobs on replicas can increase the cost.

However, fish mounts are often a bit more economical, while top-end replicas may run slightly higher. For instance, the cost per inch of fish for skin mounts is $15, whereas, for replicas, the cost is $20-$30 per inch of the fish.

Another thing that’s worth considering is the timeline to prepare. Expect to wait 6-12 months for a traditional mount, since the taxidermy process is fairly involved.

Replicas usually have a faster turnaround, around 3-8 months, since reference photos are used instead of the actual fish.

Here are some of the key questions you can ask yourself to find out which one will be the right option for you:

  • How important is it to me to have the real skin of the fish I caught?
  • Do I practice catch-and-release fishing and want to minimize fish harvested?
  • How long do I hope to keep this mount looking good?
  • Am I willing to commit to the upkeep needed for a fish mount?
  • What’s my budget for this project?
  • How soon would I like to have the mount completed?

If having the authentic skin of your catch is a top priority and you don’t mind the maintenance needs, a fish mount may be the way to go.

But those who prefer the catch-and-release option, want a faster turnaround, and value durability will like the replica.

Talking with your local taxidermist can also provide helpful guidance. They can walk you through the process for each type of mount, show you examples of their work, and make suggestions based on the specific fish you’d like to make the mount or replica.


Can Fish Replicas Really Look As Good As Real Fish Mounts?

Yes, high-quality replicas can look very realistic and are often indistinguishable from traditional fish mounts. Skilled taxidermists use detailed photos and measurements of your catch to create a replica that accurately captures the fish’s unique characteristics, colors, and proportions.

Why A Replica Is More Expensive Than A Fish Mount?

Replicas typically cost a bit more than fish mounts due to the higher price of the durable, synthetic materials used to craft them. The process of sculpting, molding, and hand-painting the replica to match your catch also takes considerable time and effort, which contributes to the added expense.

How Long Do Fish Mounts Last As Compared To Replica?

With proper care, a well-made fish mount can last 5-10 years or more, but replicas have a significantly longer lifespan. Made from strong materials like fiberglass, resin, or metal replicas are built to last for decades with minimal deterioration or loss of color.

Which Is More Easier To Maintain – A Fish Mount Or A Replica?

Replicas are generally easier to maintain than fish mounts. They require little more than occasional dusting and protection from direct sunlight to keep them looking great. Fish mounts need more frequent cleaning, careful climate control, and professional touch-ups every few years to prevent cracking, fading, or shrinkage.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, both fish mounts and replicas serve as beautiful mementos of memorable catches.

The main difference between fish mount and replica is that skin mounts offer a real piece of your fish and tend to be slightly more economical.

However, they do require catching the fish and need more ongoing care to maintain their appearance.

On the other hand, replicas provide the freedom of releasing your catch while still getting a realistic lifelike mount. Their durable materials and low-maintenance needs are a big advantage for many anglers.

In short, consider your personal preferences on catch-and-release, your budget for the project, and how much time you’re willing to spend maintaining the mount.

Also think about the room where you plan to display it – skin mounts are more susceptible to humidity and sunlight.

At ReelisticReplicas, we offer a wide variety of realistic metal fish replicas that are durable and built to last long. Check out our shop to explore more!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

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