I’ll bet there’s not an angler reading this who hasn’t used a big spoon or a butter knife to scale a fish.
We’ve all been there, and it’s pretty much universally accepted that a good scaler is faster and does a better job. They offer better abrasive surfaces, handles designed for the task, and simply superior performance.
If you’re in the market for a better fish scaler than your trusty soup spoon, we’re here to help. Below, you’ll find reviews of some of our favorites, as well as a complete buying guide to get you started.
Here's a quick glance at the best fish scalers:
Table of Contents (clickable)
Superbear’s scaler is ideal for smaller species like trout, bluegill, and croaker that have delicate skin and sport tiny scales. That’s not to say that it won’t work on larger fish like carp or salmon, too, but rather that it won’t destroy the skin of small fish or miss their tiny scales.
The scaler is made from 430 stainless steel, a highly corrosion-resistant alloy that’s common in the kitchen. It’s easy to clean, and you won’t have problems with stains or rusting, even with minimal care with soapy water.
Superbear’s scaler has a generous handle, though this one-piece design means that you'll be gripping slick steel. I recommend that you keep the hand you hold the scaler in clean, as fish slime and slick surfaces don’t play well together!
That said, the handle is plenty comfortable with no hot spots, so cleaning a mountain of fish won’t leave you with a sore hand.
Note that while the teeth are small enough to get into tight spots around the fins, some care should be taken to avoid scaling your off-hand.
I like this scaler a lot, and for the price, I’m not afraid to buy a few and leave one hanging on my outdoor sink.
Yamasho’s large brass fish scaler is an excellent product that’s nearly perfect, in my experience.
The business end of the Yamasho is a solid brass casting with four rows of teeth. Brass can’t rust, so it’s as corrosion-resistant as you can get, and it works wonders on scales. In fact, this scaler is ridiculously fast but not quite as good as the Superbear on small fish.
Chalk that up to the head size.
That said, if I were cleaning larger species like salmon or walleye, this is a product I’d be glad to have.
The handle is wooden and quite comfortable for long-term use: you won’t find any hot spots or issues. But it can get a bit nasty over time, and wood isn’t the best material for repeated soakings in fish slime and water.
The solution is a quick scrub with sandpaper, which will restore the handle to new in just a minute or two.
The price on the Yamasho is excellent as well, making this a scaler you can buy in bulk and give to other anglers or leave in your boat with no worries.
I’m not totally sold on electric fish scalers, as I’ve run into very few that were worth the money you pay for them, but the Fashionyourlife might be the exception.
Powered by a rechargeable battery that plugs directly into an outlet from the handle, this scaler has plenty of power for the job--perhaps too much! If you apply much pressure at all, you’ll gouge the flesh with the sharp blades, so keep your passes light and fast.
And do not hit your off-hand with this power tool!
Powered by a lithium battery, a full charge will require about 80 minutes and will last 3 to 4 hours. That’s plenty of time to scale a mess of big fish, and you’ll get no complaints whatsoever about the speed.
The blade itself is made from 304 stainless steel and shouldn’t present any corrosion issues.
The handle is comfortable, sporting an on-off switch near the head.
Cleaning is pretty easy, as this carries an IP7 (temporary immersion) rating, allowing you to wash it quickly with soap and water. That’s a big deal, as slime and scales will end up all over the working end of any scaler.
Overall, I’m pleasantly surprised by this electric scaler and think you will be, too.
Rock-It takes a decidedly unconventional approach to scaling a mess of fish, and if you like to catch crappie, bluegill, perch, and other small fish for the table, it’s really worth considering.
Instead of cleaning by hand, you load your fish into the Rock-It capsule and pull it behind your boat as you return to the launch. Your boat’s forward motion spins the Rock-It, and the fish tumble against the sides, losing their scales in the process.
Made from stainless steel, the Roc-It won’t corrode, and it’s very easy to clean with soap and water.
For large numbers of small fish, there’s no more efficient method on the planet!
Big Norm-Feets really is magic, and to believe how effective this scaler is, you need to see it in action.
The business end of this tool is studded with rotating soft rubber teeth, and though you may not think that will remove tough scales, it’s amazingly effective. Seriously, this is probably the fastest, most effective scaler on the market. It’s that good!
From salmon to trout, reds to crappie, this scaler handles them all, allowing you to get into the tight spots around the fins without ever roughing up the delicate flesh of small fish.
The handle is made from tough plastic that’s both durable and easy to clean, and as there’s no metal involved, there’s no possibility of corrosion.
A quick wash in soap and water will have this scaler looking like new.
It’s also gentle on your skin should you make a mistake and run this across your off-hand, making it ideal for kids and folks new to cleaning fish.
Is this the best scaler on the market?
It just might be.
But anglers with smaller hands may find that they don’t have enough leverage to work with, making this less effective for them than other scalers on our list.
Cleaning fish is a messy business, and lots of water is typically involved. One of the best ways to minimize the mess of scales popping hither and yon is to work the scaler while holding the fish underwater.
Obviously, then, corrosion resistance is going to be an important feature of any good scaler.
Look for materials like stainless steel, brass, plastic, and rubber that either offer very good corrosion resistance or simply can’t rust.
Also, pay close attention to how the head of the scaler is attached to the handle. You want a sturdy connection, and one-piece models are typically superior.
Comfort is best measured by the hand of the user, but we’ve made an effort to consider whether each of the tools on our list will create hot spots or get uncomfortable as you work your way through a cooler of fish.
This is critical for a good scaler.
If you can’t wash it thoroughly with soap and warm water, not only will it be unsanitary for future use, it’ll stink to high heaven!
Look for scalers that are easy to clean.
The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and the proof of a scaler is found in the ease with which it removes scales.
Nearly any good scaler can handle large sections of flat skin, but when you begin to work around the fins, you’ll find that some models just can’t get into fine spots.
Similarly, some scalers are awesome on the delicate scales of trout or crappie but don’t offer the strength to work the larger, stronger scales of species like reds or carp. The reverse can be true, too, with more aggressive scalers working large species well while missing whole patches of tiny scales or tearing delicate flesh.
We’ve reviewed each of the scalers on our list in terms of the size scales they work best with.
Speed is also important, and a scaler that gets more work done with each pass is infinitely better than a slower model, especially when there’s a full cooler at hand.
While some anglers may prefer the automatic Rock-It or one of the other models for their specific needs, most fishermen will be well-served by the Big Norm-Feets.
Comfortable to work with, the Big Norm is super effective on large and small fish without damaging their delicate flesh--or yours! It’s remarkably fast, easily outpacing a big spoon or knife, and it’s very easy to clean with soap and water.
Finally, by dint of the plastic and rubber used in its construction, it’s completely resistant to corrosion.
We’re confident that for most people, most of the time, this is the best scaler on the market.
As always, we’d love to hear from you, and if you have a question or comment, please leave us a message below!