Are you tired of spending time in the kitchen descaling your catch? For most people, the fishing part is the most fun, but the bit that follows, cleaning, gutting, and descaling fish before cooking is not fun at all. So why not make life easier by using a fish scaler?
In this article, we will discuss the various types of fish scalers out there, their pros and cons, and recommend some good ones you should consider if you want to speed up the scaling process.
Comparison of the Best Fish Scalers
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What is a Fish Scaler?
A fish scaler is a tool that makes removing scales from a fish faster. Ranging from the back of a knife to electric gadgets, they come in all shapes and sizes.
All fish scalers have some sort of ridged edge or sawtooth surface to remove the scales from the fish skin. The sawtooth shape is used to scrape off the scales quickly and easily with a few stroking motions.
In the case of good scrapers, you not only save time and effort when scraping scales, but there’s no mess from flying scales to clean up afterward.
Types of Fish Scalers
Let’s look at the various types of fish scalers available for purchase.
Scrapers or Brushes
Scraper type scalers are made from plastic and stainless steel. They look like gardening tools and have a handle and broad head and teeth. They are normally dishwasher safe.
These tools look similar to a vegetable peeler and are usually made of plastic. The blade’s serrated edges help peel off fish scales, and those that have a scale catching compartment make cleanup easier. Some peelers come with a small, retractable fillet knife at the end of the handle, which can be used to gut the fish.
Electric Fillet Knife
Electric knives are typically shaped like non-electric knives, and come in both corded and cordless varieties. Designed with a comfortable grip and interchangeable blades for easy cleaning, electric knives are suitable for larger fish or greater quantities but create a mess from fish scales. They are also more costly than manual types.
Electric Drill Scaler
An electric drill fish scaler is attached to your drill and is a fast and easy method to scale your fish. It is a useful tool for larger descaling projects but will make a mess, so is best used outside. The pros include that it is usually self-oiling and rust resistant, safer to use than a knife, and won’t harm the fish meat. On the downside, it is usually expensive.
Electric Drum Scaler
A drum scaler uses water and a large, round compartment like a cheese grater to remove scales, dirt, and grime from large quantities of similar sized fish. The tank is filled with water, then the fish are put in the water, the device is plugged in, and run for 10-20 minutes. When time is up, dump your fish out and wipe away the scales in the drum. Because it keeps the scales contained, you can use the drum scaler tool inside or outside.
Drill Bucket Scaler
Similar to a drum scaler, this tool can be used to descale multiple fish at one time. Instead of a cheese grater type container, the bucket is lined with stainless steel and uses a beater to toss the fish around. The beaters attach to an electric drill. After dumping the fish, rinse and wipe down the bucket.
How to Spot a Quality Fish Scaler
Before you buy a fish scaler, consider how much you’ll be using it so you can figure out what level of investment is justified. After that, keep these factors in mind when you’re selecting your scaler.
Ease of Use
You want a scaler with a comfortable, non-slip grip that allows for quick scale removal and is easy to use.
Bladed vs. Scrubbing
The method of scaling you prefer will determine if you want a bladed scaler or a scrubbing scaler. There are manual and electric versions of each. Bladed tools give higher precision in removal compared to a scrubbing tool.
They are useful for both small and larger fish. Some tools have interchangeable, or additionally integrated, blades for cutting the fish post descaling, which can limit the number of tools you need.
Think about the mess your scraper will leave behind. While knives may disperse scales all over, some tools have a scale capture feature making for easy clean-up after your project is complete.
The best tools will also be rust and corrosion resistant and easy to clean, or dishwasher safe.
Review of the Best Fish Scalers
Now that you know what to look for in a good fish scaler, it’s time to look at our roundup of the top products available in the market. We’ve carefully selected these tools to give you great value and ease of use.
HIC Fish Scaler
This unique fish scaler is shaped like a fish and has raised nubs on the underside for lifting and removing scales effectively. The curved handle ensures a good grip, even if your hands are wet.
Using it is very easy; simply lay the fish on a flat work surface and hold it firmly. Then use short strokes to scrape the length of the fish from the tail to the head until all scales are removed. Finally, rinse the fish thoroughly in cold water.
Its small size makes it easy to hang, stow away in a bag, and take along on hikes or fishing expeditions. It is made from sturdy aluminum and is easy to clean. Hand wash with warm, soapy water.
A good pick for people who want to scale their fish on the go or on a boat, this little fish-shaped scaler is whimsically shaped and stands out. While not as effective as some of the bigger scalers out there, it does get the job done.
Big Norm-Feets Magic Fish Scaler
Made from plastic, this little fish scaler really is effective and greatly speeds up the scaling process.
It also prevents the scales from flying out of the sink or container where you are scaling the fish. A quick rinse under running water cleans it up. It is inexpensive and is made in the USA.
This Magic scaler really seems to work like magic, helping you scrape off the scales much quicker and more cleanly than a knife.
Best for the Money:
. Winco FSP-9 Scale Peeler
The FSP-9 scaler has teeth which quickly and efficiently remove the fish scales. The best and easiest way is to use a side-to-side motion to easily clean the scales off a fish.
It doesn't catch the scales, but it contains better them than when you use a knife to clean fish.
Although it can be a bit messy, this scaler is easy to use, easy to clean and won’t break the bank.
This Japanese designed scaler is both beautiful and functional. It is a quality tool that feels right in the hand.
To use it effectively, fill a sink or tub with water and scale under water which will keep scales from flying all around and making a mess.
It is sharp and very effective in removing scales and does not require you to apply any pressure due to the weight of the brass scaler head.
To clean, just wash, rinse, and allow to dry between uses.
A wonderfully designed scaler that is both attractive and works well. It keeps the mess contained and does not require you to exert extra force in order to remove scales. It keeps the skin and flesh intact so your fish are ready for cooking and eating.
Made from stainless steel and wood, this fish scaler makes descaling much easier. It keeps the scales in the sink basin, with no mess from scales flying all over the place.
It is more effective than using a regular knife for scaling. A bigger one might be better for larger fish.
This simple, compact scaler is great for when you need to scale fish on the go but is not as effective on larger fish. It contains the scales in your sink or tub to make cleanup easier.
How to Clean and Care for a Fish Scaler
Like any other piece of fishing gear, you should clean and store your fish scaler properly so it will last you a long time.
For metal fish scalers, always wash with fresh water, removing any debris or dirt, then coat it with a protective oil/spray to prevent corrosion or rust during storage. For wooden handled scalers, never soak the wooden part in water and take care to keep it dry.
Scrapers made of plastic or other such materials can be washed with soapy water and stored in a dry place.
How to Use a Fish Scaler
Grasp the tail of the fish tightly and use the knife to scrape from the tail to the head of the fish.
Use long even strokes, going against the direction in which the scales are growing, causing them to flake off easily. Make sure you also scale the back and the belly of the fish well.
Scaling also helps reduce bacteria, which in turn increases the shelf life of the fish. Finish by washing the fish thoroughly.
Far from being a tedious task, scaling a fish can be easy and fun. Just keep in mind the ease of use, comfort, effectiveness, and bladed vs. scrubbing design for the scaler.
For some great options, take a look at our recommendations above and let us know how you like them. With the right fish scaler in your toolkit, you’ll soon be cleaning your catch for dinner like a pro!