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Identifying Your Fish Mount: Live Skin or Fiberglass?

Fish mounts are popular trophies among anglers, serving as a lasting reminder of a memorable catch. If you’ve acquired a fish mount and are curious whether it’s an older live skin mount made from the actual fish or a modern one crafted from fiberglass, there are several key indicators to help you distinguish between the two.

1. Material and Texture

  • Live Skin Mounts: These are made from the actual fish, preserved and mounted on a mold. The skin is tanned, and real fins and tails are often used. The texture can be slightly uneven, and you might notice natural imperfections like scales or small irregularities in the skin.

  • Fiberglass Mounts: Modern mounts are typically crafted from molds of fish, using fiberglass or resin. These have a smoother, more consistent texture, and lack the natural imperfections of real skin. The scales are uniform, and the overall surface feels synthetic compared to the organic texture of a live skin mount.

2. Weight

  • Live Skin Mounts: These tend to be heavier due to the materials used in the preservation process, including the fish’s skin, fillers, and possibly heavier backings.

  • Fiberglass Mounts: These are generally lighter. Fiberglass is a lightweight material, and modern mounts often use minimal internal support to keep the weight down.

3. Detailing

  • Live Skin Mounts: The detailing on these mounts can vary significantly. They might show natural wear and tear, with some fins possibly looking a bit frayed or discolored over time. The paint job may show signs of aging, with some colors fading or yellowing.

  • Fiberglass Mounts: These are usually more detailed and can be meticulously painted to resemble the fish’s natural colors with great accuracy. Modern techniques allow for high levels of detail and vibrant, lasting colors. The fins and tails are often molded to be perfectly shaped, showing no signs of wear.

4. Backside Inspection

  • Live Skin Mounts: Inspect the backside of the mount. Older mounts may have a rougher finish, with visible seams where the skin was attached or filler material exposed.

  • Fiberglass Mounts: The backside of a fiberglass mount is typically smooth and consistent. There won’t be seams from skin attachment, and the finish is usually clean and polished.

5. Age Indicators

  • Live Skin Mounts: These were more common before the 1980s. If your mount has a date or if the origin points to an earlier period, it’s likely a live skin mount. Older mounts might also show signs of age, such as cracking, fading, or a musty smell due to the organic materials.

  • Fiberglass Mounts: These have become the standard since the 1980s. Newer mounts will often look pristine, and they are more resilient to environmental factors, making them less likely to show significant aging signs.


     By examining the material and texture, weight, detailing, backside finish, and age indicators, you can determine whether your fish mount is an older live skin mount or a modern fiberglass creation. Each type has its own unique characteristics and charm, reflecting the evolution of taxidermy and fish mounting techniques over the years. Whether your mount is a vintage piece of history or a contemporary work of art, it undoubtedly carries the story of a great fishing adventure.

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