View Full Version : Tanning fish skin

14-07-2007, 05:22 PM
Has anyone had any experience tanning fish skins?
I've done plenty of furry creatures, but never a scaley one.
Just wondering if there are any traps or other considerations with fish as compared to other leathers.

15-07-2007, 09:15 AM
I don't know about fish Owen but Dad once tanned an 8' King Brown.
Scaly, similar to fish I suppose.
All he did was salt it really heavy, pinned it out on a piece of ply, scales up, and kept the salt up to it.
After it had dried out he rubbed it with an oil of some type, sorry can't remember.
The edges curled in a little, but that skin has been in ok nick now for 25 years!
Mind you, it has deteriorated from the early days a little.

I'd say there'd be better and easier methods nowadays.


jez and suze
15-07-2007, 09:17 AM
no fish,but i once tanned my chook skin

15-07-2007, 11:19 AM
I've seen quite a few mounted trout and they always paint the ciolours and varnish it, the skin provides the texture but isn't really a stand alone thing.
Regards Charlie

15-07-2007, 11:39 AM
I would recommend that you try to get a light colored formula as I have seen fishskins tanned with the dark colored tanning formulas that the color spoilt them.
It was good strong leather.

cheers rossco

15-07-2007, 11:44 AM
I have tanned plenty of skins for fur, but the trick here I think is getting the scales out without damaging the skin. With mammals you can slip the hair with chemicals.
Oh well, looks like another suck it & see job :)

15-07-2007, 12:32 PM
ask my old man, he had plenty of practice at tanning my hide. Matt

16-07-2007, 08:27 AM

Here's an article that talks about fish leather. It doesn't give a step by step or the recipe that the companies use (trade secrets) but there is some info. It mentions that a company in New Zealand is producing fish leather, perhaps they'd give you some tips.

Good luck!

16-07-2007, 09:10 AM
Why not just catch ................. Leatherjackets ::)

(Someone had to do it)

But seriously, I reckon the fish to skin would have to be Amberjack. Nice thick, tough skin to begin with, and generally a fair bit of skin too!

16-07-2007, 11:25 AM
hey owen i saw your fish and im taking it you want that fishes skin to be made into leather, if not maybe just email the mob listed in the r'building section and see if they will sell you a patch of leather for the rod. but i take it you want the sentimental aspect of your barra skin on a rod.

16-07-2007, 07:05 PM
Yeah I would have liked to use that skin, but having got some prices back from the mob in the west (for tanned skins) it's not worth going and buying the salt let alone the rest of the chemicals and breaking oil.

16-07-2007, 10:05 PM
The best fish skin I ever tanned was an eel skin. It made an excelent belt, very tough stuff but soft and flexible. The tanning killed the fishy smell. It was wonderful leather.

16-07-2007, 10:30 PM
I have never tried to tan fish skin,
& I'm sure you have your own recipies,

the best, most simple tannng recipie I have ever found is...........very simple,

flay & clean skin as you would any other method,

salt (flossy) for 48 hrs, scrape clean, re-apply salt, & leave for another week.

Scrape off salt,
mix bi-carb & kerosene into a paste & paint/wipe onto flesh side, scrape off & repeat after a week, scape off & wipe off excess with a damp rag & leave to dry out, break & apply oil as you would with other methods.

Sounds easy, it is, I still have a huge feral cat skin that sits on my printer that must be at least 18 years old, tanned by that exact method & still going strong.

Hope it helps,


16-07-2007, 10:39 PM
I reckon shark would make a good tanned skin, what ever one else think

16-07-2007, 11:06 PM
I reckon shark would make a good tanned skin, what ever one else think

Would make a great jacket. Might be a bit noisy though, with the roughness of the denticles covering the skin. I wonder if they'd stay on through the tanning process?

17-07-2007, 12:44 PM
Apparently stingray comes up very well too.

I'd rather use snake skin but they seem to be protected.
Except from shovels ;)