Cut Your Prep Work in Half with These Top 11 Fish Scalers

If you catch or process a lot of fish, you already know how much of a time-consuming chore it is to properly clean fresh seafood. To hopefully make at least part of that task easier, we have researched the best fish scalers. We looked for ways to help make the job quicker, easier, less messy, and not quite as unpleasant.

For our 10 Best Fish Scalers Review, we considered a multitude of factors — performance, unique features, affordability, ease of use, applications, and customer reviews, among other details. Because there are hundreds of scale-removing products, we have provided an in-depth look at some of the Top Fish Scalers available on the market right now, so you can make an informed decision about which one is the best choice for you.

After our review of the 10 Best Fish Scalers of 2021, we also provide you with a handy buyer’s guide. Not only can you find out more about fish scalers in general, but you can also learn which specific features to look for before you make a purchase.

The 10 Best Fish Scalers of 2021 Reviewed

We did the research, so you don’t have to. We looked at the huge selection of fish scalers and came up with our best of the best, both overall and in specific categories. The list of top fish scalers is presented in no particular order. They are numbered for convenience, not for ranking purposes.

1. Best Overall: Big Norm’s Magic Fish Scaler

Compact and lightweight, Big Norm’s Magic Fish Scaler is a great option for serious anglers and home chefs who frequently clean and cook fresh seafood. Manufactured in New York by the Tackle Factory, the Magic Fish Scaler showcases an innovative design that makes cleaning up a breeze.

The head of Big Norm’s Magic Fish Scaler has almost two dozen square teeth that remove fish scales quickly and efficiently without damaging the delicate flesh of the fish itself. 

Best of all, this model’s design helps capture the fish scales as it loosens them, so they aren’t thrown about. This is a major advantage over many other competitor’s models.

The “Big Norm” delivers everything you want; it cleans your fish rapidly, doesn’t ruin the flesh, and eliminates messy clean-up. Magic, indeed.

Pros

  • Lightweight, compact, and portable
  • Removes fish scales quickly
  • Doesn’t make a mess
  • Easy to clean
  • 89% of purchasers give Big Norm’s Magic Fish Scaler a 4- or 5-star rating.

Cons

  • The short handle takes some getting used to.
  • The handle is not slip-resistant.
  • Due to its size, it’s harder to clean larger fish.

2. Best Tradition Design: Kwizing Fish Scaler Brush

The Japanese have elevated the preparation of fresh seafood almost to an art form, so does it come as any surprise that one of the top fish scalers of 2021 is based on a traditional Japanese design?  Elegantly made of brass and wood, the Kwizing Fish Scaler Brush is a beautiful tool that would be a fine addition to any kitchen.

The large working surface area has 32 serrated sawteeth that grant maximum coverage and performance. Specially-designed grooves catch loose scales and prevent them from making a mess of your kitchen or your clothes.

The wooden handle is large, ergonomic, and slip-resistant, allowing for safer and more comfortable use, even after prolonged use or when your hands are slippery or wet. 

Studies have shown that brass resists bacterial contamination better than plastic, aluminum, and stainless steel. In other words, if you want to promote better food safety when dealing with raw fish, the Kwizing Fish Scaler Brush might be your best option.

Pros

  • Beautiful traditional design
  • Ergonomic and slip-resistant handle
  • Large surface area
  • Antimicrobial properties
  • 94% of purchasers give the Kwizing Fish Scaler Brush a 4- or 5-star rating.

Cons

  • Difficult to use on smaller fish
  • Brass parts may tarnish if not properly maintained
  • Over time, the wooden handle may come loose from the brass scaling surface.

3. Best Model for Preventing Messes: Gnkr Fish Scaler

Let’s face it — one of the worst things about preparing fresh seafood is the huge mess made by flyaway scales.  Cleaning up a huge, unnecessary mess is an unpleasant and time-consuming chore.

The Gnker Fish Scaler is just as good at removing the hassle from cleaning a fish as it is at removing the scales themselves. The bottom of the scraper has a raised lip that efficiently raises and removes the scales. Importantly, this lip has no sharp edges, so you cannot cut your hand.

This model from Gnkr stands out because it also collects the scales in an internal reservoir; no mess and no fuss. Even better, the removable snap-on cover eliminates the mess by preventing scattered scales.

When the collecting case is full, pop off the lid, dump the scales in the trash, and get immediately back to work.

The Gnker Fish Scaler adds a bit of whimsy to your kitchen because it is designed to look like a fish. The cover has an “eye,” and the entire scraper is shaped like a fish, including the ergonomic, slip-resistant handle that looks like a tail.

Pros

  • Unique design collects loosened scales and prevents mess
  • Safe, non-sharp scraping ridge
  • Fun, whimsical fish shape
  • Easy-to-clean
  • Ergonomic, non-slip handle

Cons

  • Plastic construction
  • Extremely small, not suitable for larger fish
  • Better for home kitchens, rather than fishing trips

4. Best Commercial-Grade Model: XYZBEN Heavy Duty Fish Scaler

The Heavy Duty Fish Scaler from XYZBEN is a beast that can tackle any seafood-cleaning chore and then come back for more. Designed for demanding commercial use, it is definitely up for any home or field task you can throw at it.

Descaling a fresh fish has never been easier, thanks to four concentric steel rings, each completely edged in extremely sharp teeth. These teeth grip the scales and then rip them out in no time flat. Just a few passes, and your fish, large or small, will be scale-free and ready to cook.

Because this tool is so sharp, the ergonomic handle is textured to be slip-resistant, and there’s a built-in hilt for added safety. It is strongly recommended that you wear cut-proof safety gloves when using the XYZBEN Heavy Duty Fish Scaler. 

Pros

  • Outstanding descaling performance
  • Capable of handling fish of any size
  • Ergonomic and slip-resistant handle
  • Both sides of this fish scaler can be used
  •  96% of purchasers give the XYZBEN Heavy Duty Fish Scaler a 4- or 5-star rating

Cons

  • If you are not very careful, the sharp teeth can damage the fish’s flesh.
  • Cut-proof gloves MUST be worn to prevent injury.
  • Does not come with a (needed) protective cover.

5. Best Corded Model: Bear Paw Heavy Duty Electric Fish Scaler

If you have a restaurant, catch a lot of fish, or just want to get the job done as quickly and completely as possible, the Electric Fish Scaler from Bear Paw might be the best option for you.

Made in the United States since 1946, this model is powered by a 110-volt 2-amp motor that lets you quickly and completely descale fish of any size, with almost no effort. It operates safely in fresh or salt water, and it is resistant to rust. The coating is impregnated with Teflon, making for easy cleanup afterwards.

Bear Paw has taken extra care to make their Heavy Duty Electric Fish Scaler absolutely safe. As they are removed, the scales are directed downward, away from your face and body, and it includes a shield for extra protection. In fact, this model is so safe and precise that it will not damage the fish’s flesh, even at full power.

Pros

  • American-made for generations
  • Suitable for commercial, home, or sport use
  • Safe and precise
  • Does not damage the fish
  • 86% of purchasers give the Bear Paw Heavy Duty Electric Fish Scaler a 4- or 5-star rating.

Cons

  • A bit on the pricey side for the casual fisherman or merely “occasional” use
  • Can be messy
  • Must be plugged in to operate

6. Best Cordless Model: Powergiant Fish Scales Remover

Sometimes, you need a power fish scaler’s extra performance, but it isn’t convenient to use one that is tethered to a cord. When that happens, the Powergiant Fish Scales Remover is the right tool for the job.

This waterproof model switches between low or high speed at the touch of a button. The roller blades are made from food-safety-grade stainless steel.

Because the rechargeable battery allows the Powergiant model to descale up to 100 fish on a single charge, it is suitable for home, professional, sport fishing, and even camping use. This makes it one of the most versatile power fish scalers on the market.

For your total peace of mind, the company also offers a 2-year warranty.

Pros

  • Rechargeable via a USB port
  • Long-life battery
  • Versatile and suitable for a variety of situations
  • Multi-speed operation
  • 75% of purchasers give the Powergiant Fish Scales Remover a 4- or 5-star rating.

Cons

  • At close to 2 pounds, it may add unwanted weight when camping.
  • May cause hand fatigue after prolonged use.
  • Does not have a safety guard

7. Best Budget Model: Sea Striker Fish Scaler

When you are looking for a no-frills fish scaler that can be your go-to tool when fishing or camping or to address your occasional fish-cleaning needs at home, the basic Sea Striker Fish Scaler is your best budget-friendly choice.

Compact and lightweight, you can easily include this scaler as part of your fishing or camping pack. Made of a single piece of die-cut aluminum, it is sturdy enough to handle most of any occasional angler’s basic descaling needs. Toss it in your tackle box or kitchen drawer, and it will be there when you need it.

While not the most versatile fish scaler in our review, the Sea Striker model is the inexpensive tool a beginner fisherman or home cook needs.

Pros

  • Entry budget price point
  • Must more effective than descaling with a knife
  • Lightweight and easily packed or stored
  • Single-piece construction
  • 75% of purchasers give the Sea Striker Fish Scaler a 4- or 5-star rating.

Cons

  • Very basic model, most suitable for beginning fisherman
  • Corrodes, if placed in a dishwasher
  • Short handle
  • Open-lipped handle can be uncomfortable if gripped too long or too tightly

8. Best “Kitchen Drawer” Model: Maine Man Fish Scaler

Sometimes, all you need is a decent fish-cleaning tool that you keep in your kitchen drawer or pantry for those rare occasions when you need to clean fresh seafood at home. For just such a time, the Maine Man Fish Scaler is the kitchen tool you need.

The Maine Man model is a good-looking single-purpose kitchen gadget that adds a bit of fun to food preparation. Made from sturdy polished aluminum, this scaler is instantly recognizable by its fish-like shape.

From a performance standpoint, it is a dependable little tool that should prove adequate for any home chef hoping to prepare a fresh fish dinner. The underside of the scaler has raised nubs that effectively remove the fish’s scales in just a few minutes. Unlike some of the other choices, the Maine Man Fish Scaler is perfectly safe — the nubs aren’t sharp.

Pros

  • Attractive kitchen tool
  • Single-piece aluminum construction
  • Safe and non-sharp
  • Suitable performance for most home cooks
  • 82% of purchasers give the Maine Man Fish Scaler a 4- or 5-star rating.

Cons

  • Because the nubs are not sharp, more strokes and effort are required to remove scales.
  • Not really suitable for larger fish
  • Small descaling area
  • Not dishwasher-safe

9. Most Innovative Design: Sage Co. Super Scaler

Sage Co. advertises its Super Scaler as “the last fish scraper you will ever need to buy!” From our early impressions, they may be right. There is a lot to like about this model.

Start with the construction; the Super Scaler is made of nickel-plated aircraft-grade aluminum, making it exceptionally strong, durable, and it will never rust.

The working front end of the Super Scaler has five sharp blades specifically designed to lift and remove scales quickly, especially near the pectoral and dorsal fins. Then, the duller blade on the right side of the model is used for the final cleanup passes. 

Because so little manual pressure is needed, scales are not strewn all over the place, as with some competitors’ models. Left-handed users will appreciate the ambidextrous design, granting easy use with either hand. 

Sage Co. claims that, with a little practice, you will be able to completely descale a fish in just 10 to 15 seconds per side. And when you are done, use the included bottle opener to pop the top off of your favorite beverage.

Pros

  • Innovative, patent-pending design
  • “Zips” the scales off without damaging the flesh.
  • Can be used with either hand
  • Made in the United States
  • 85% of purchasers give the Sage Co. Super Scaler a 4- or 5-star rating.

Cons

  • Corrodes in saltwater
  • Takes practice to use properly

10. Best Large Catch Model: Open Country Tumble Drumm Automatic Fish Scaler

For those who need to scale a large quantity of fish, it is not practical or desirable to do it all by hand.  In that case, the Open Country Tumble Drumm Automatic Fish Scaler is the right option for you.

With this Open Country model, you can remove the scales from multiple fish at the same time. Simply place your catch inside the drum, fill the tub with water, and then turn on the electric tumbler. As the fish turn over and over inside the drum, the tumbling action completely but gently descales the fish without damaging the delicate flesh.

The Tumble Drumm does all the work. In just 20 minutes, it can clean up to 50 fish. All of the scales and mess settle at the bottom of the tub. The only things you have to do are collect your cleaned fish, rinse everything off, and you are good to go until the next time.

Pros

  • Simple operation
  • Outstanding productivity — Removes the scales from up to 50 fish in only 20 minutes.
  • Easy clean-up
  • Polypropylene tub resists both odors and mildew.
  • 91% of purchasers give the Open Country Tumble Drumm Automatic Fish Scaler a 4- or 5-star rating.

Cons

  • Limited capacity; not suitable for larger fish
  • Requires access to electricity
  • Fish should be sorted into batches of like sizes first.
  • Sometimes leaves a few scalds on individual fish

11. Best Power Tool Accessory: Marine Tech Tools Power Fish Scaler

If you own an oscillating power tool, the Marine Tech Tools Power Fish Scaler is the accessory you need to help you clean your catch. Once attached via a universal mount, it removes fish scales in a matter of seconds.

Unlike rotary fish scalers, the Marine Tech model doesn’t spin and fling fish scales everywhere. Instead, the blunt metal teeth grab and lift the scales, while the vibrations from the oscillating tool shake them loose. Virtually no physical effort is required.

Best of all, this accessory is extremely safe. It has no sharp edges or dangerous spinning parts. Even if the vibrating teeth touch your hand, you will not get cut.

Pros

  • The accessory is less expensive and easier to store than a separate electric powered fish scaler.
  • No sharp edges
  • Safer than rotary scalers
  • Lifetime warranty
  • 85% of purchasers give the Marine Tech Tools Power Fish Scaler a 4- or 5-star rating.
  • Requires an oscillating tool
  • Difficult to use on smaller fish
  • May not fit on every oscillating tool

Cons

Fish Scalers Buyers Guide

We have unveiled our choices for the best fish scalers on the market. Now let us also take a closer look at those features you should consider to help you choose the fish scaler that’s right for you. 

Types of Fish Scalers

There are three basic types of fish scalers in the market:

Scale Peelers

These scalers are made to slide under the fish’s scales, lift them,  and then pull them out. They usually have metal edges to make the scaling process easier and more efficient. The main drawback to scale peelers is their sharp edges can damage the fish’s flesh unless you use extreme caution.

Scaling Brushes

These fish scalers have wide heads and non-sharp teeth that descale the fish without also damaging the fish. The main drawback to scaling brushes is it takes more effort and time to remove the scales.

Electric Scalers

These scalers can either be corded, meaning they need to be plugged in or cordless, which run on a rechargeable battery. They also come in handheld models, where you clean each fish individually, or drum models, where you place your entire catch in a tub or drum, and the machine descales them all simultaneously.

Although electric scalers are much more expensive than peelers or brushes, they are also far more efficient, finishing the job in a fraction of the time that it would take by hand.

The main drawback to power fish scalers is they must have access to a power source. If you are in an area without electricity or the battery on your cordless model goes dead, you are out of luck.

Often the question is: What’s better, manual or electric fish scalers?

It depends on your needs. If you are an occasional fisherman, weekend camper, or rarely cook fresh seafood at home, then a manual fish scaler is probably all you need.

However, if you are an avid outdoor enthusiast who fishes and camps often, a more-productive, electric fish scaler is probably a better choice.

In fact, if you catch large quantities of fish or own a restaurant that serves a lot of fresh fish, you may even need to take the next step and purchase a high-capacity drum fish scaler.

Benefits of Using Fish Scalers

A fish needs to be properly descaled and cleaned before you cook it. These specialized tools do a much better job of removing a fish’s scales than camp or kitchen knives. You get much more done, with less effort, and in a shorter amount of time.

Most good-quality fish scalers allow you to quickly accomplish the task without damaging the fish’s delicate flesh. Using a knife, you often lose much of the edible portion of the fish.

Disadvantages of Using Fish Scalers

Because they are such useful tools and work so well, there are very few disadvantages to using a fish scaler, and those that do exist are minor.

For example, if you decide to go with an electric fish scaler, they can be relatively expensive. The trade-off is an exceptional performance.

Also, when you purchase a fish scaler, you acquire a specialized tool with no other uses. It will take up space in your pantry or tackle box until it is needed. The trade-off is it does the job that no other kitchen tool can.

Finally, it is important to buy the right fish scaler, or you will be disappointed. The wrong one can mean slow, frustrating work, an unnecessary mess, or worst of all, a ruined, almost-inedible fish.

How to Use Your Fish Scaler

You should always scale your fish as soon as possible because it reduces bacterial growth and helps keep the fish from spoiling early. A fresh fish will only keep in the refrigerator for one or two days.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to use most handheld manual fish scalers. However, if you are using an electric fish scaler, always refer to their instructions for the sake of both proper operation and personal safety.

First, rinse any slime off the fish with cold tap water. Do this for several minutes. Fish are slippery, making them difficult to hold. Afterwards, thoroughly dry the fish with a rag or towel. 

Next, lay down a protective layer of newspaper or cardboard on your counter or table. This will keep the fish from sliding and will catch any stray scales. This simple step will make clean-up much easier.

Put on a pair of disposable or cut-proof gloves. This will help secure your grasp on the fish and protect you from sharp scales, fins, and your fish scraper. Lay the fish flat, keeping firm hold of the tail.

Working from tail to head, scrape your scaler along the side of the fish. Make sure to apply gentle pressure and use steady strokes. If you work too quickly or use strokes that are too long, you will scatter scales everywhere. Continue until no scales remain, then flip the fish over and repeat the process.

Finally, rinse away any remaining scales under cold running water. Your fish is now ready to cook.

The Fish Scaler Features You Want

Every sport fisherman or home chef has different expectations and requirements of the fish scaler they purchase, so keep these in mind before making your choice.

  • Performance/Speed — How quickly and easily does your tool remove fish scales?
  • Versatility — Where can you use this scaler– fishing, camping, home kitchen, restaurant? 
  • Size — The larger the scaling area, the fewer passes/strokes you have to make.
  • Capability — Can you clean large saltwater sport fish with this scaler?
  • Material — What your fish scaler is made of determines its durability, ease of cleaning, and resistance to rust, corrosion, mildew, and odor.
  • Clean-Up — Does your tool collect the removed scales, keep them within your work area, or scatter them about?
  • Safety — How good is your fish scaler at minimizing the risk of injury to you or damage to the fish?
  • Affordability — While this number is subjective, it does let you compare prices.

Maintaining Your Fish Scaler

One of the best things about fish scalers is they are so easy to maintain. In most instances, all you have to do is clean your handheld manual scaler with a gentle dish detergent, rinse it off, dry it, and put it away. Always wash your fish scaler by hand because most of them are not dishwasher safe. If you put them in the dishwasher, you may permanently ruin the finish.

Of special relevance, some fish scalers are intended for use with freshwater fish only. The salt and minerals in seawater can cause corrosion or damage.

For electric fish scalers, simply follow the manufacturer’s care and maintenance instructions. Failure to do so could affect your scaler’s performance, damage it, and even void your warranty.

Fish Scaler Safety Tips

Fish scalers are generally quite safe to use, but there are still several wise precautions you should take to reduce your chance of injury. For example:

  • Always wear cut- and puncture-resistant safety gloves. Not only will they prevent you from losing your grip on a slippery fish, but they will also protect you from cuts if your scaler does slip.
  • Wear eye protection, especially when using an electric fish scaler.
  • Work on a flat, stable surface, such as a table, counter, or bench.
  • If you are fishing or camping, use a camp table or a flat rock.
  • You can also keep your fish stable with a filet board.
  • Never scrape towards yourself.
  • If you are using an electric fish scaler, always remove any jewelry, especially rings and dangling necklaces.
  • Wash your hands and utensils thoroughly after using your fish scaler to prevent dangerous cross-contamination.

Best Fish Scaler Comparison Chart

ProductPriceItem Weight (ounces)MaterialUnique Features
Best Overall: Big Norm's Magic Fish Scaler$0.35Brass and WoodLightweight, compact, and portable, removes fish scales quickly
Best Tradition Design: Kwizing Fish Scaler Brush$3.6Brass and WoodLarge surface area, antimicrobial properties
Best Commercial-Grade Model: XYZBEN Heavy Duty Fish Scaler$16Spring Steel Safe, non-sharp scraping ridge, fun, whimsical fish shape
Best Corded Model: Bear Paw Heavy Duty Electric Fish Scaler$80Heavy Duty Electric Capable of handling fish of any size
Best Cordless Model: Powergiant Fish Scales Remover$28Stainless Steel Roller BladeSafe and precise, does not damage the fish
Sea Striker Fish Scaler$0.16Stainless SteelLong-life battery, multi-speed operation
Best "Kitchen Drawer" Model: Maine Man Fish Scaler$0.8SiliconMust more effective than descaling with a knife
Most Innovative Design: Sage Co. Super Scaler$4.6AluminumSafe and non-sharp
Best Large Catch Model: Open Country Tumble Drumm Automatic Fish Scaler$180Stainless Steel DrumCan be used with either hand, Innovative, patent-pending design
Best Power Tool Accessory: Marine Tech Tools Power Fish Scaler$0.81Stainless SteelEasy clean-up

Wrap Up: The Bottom Line about the Best Fish Scalers

There are few meals as delicious as properly-prepared fresh fish. One of the first steps in preparing fish correctly is to remove the scales, and you need the right specialized tool. This seemingly-minor consideration can mean the difference between a wonderful dinner and a ruined, inedible meal.

The best fish scaler should be simple to use, effective at quickly removing scales, and sturdy enough to tackle demanding jobs. It should be the specialized tool that makes it easier to prepare your fish for cooking.

Every entry on our list of the best Fish Scalers of 2021 does all of that and more. No matter your individual needs or preferences, one of these models is exactly what you are looking for.

If you prepare a lot of fresh seafood, keep in mind that there is nothing wrong with owning more than one fish scaler for use in different situations. You may prefer a heavy-duty electric fish scaler for your home, but opt for a basic lightweight manual model when you go on a fishing or camping trip.

Scroll to Top