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Replica Suggestions?

Travis Swift

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I was fortunate to catch a really nice rainbow last week and worked very hard to release her alive (see the upper taney forum).  I got some good pictures and measurements so I can get a replica made.  I have Brett Rader giving me a quote but wondered whom else I should consider getting a quote from?  I've seen a wide variety of prices just looking around.  I want it to be a good replica as I probably won't ever even get close to one that size again.  Thanks in advance for any suggestions.


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There is only one person that should be trusted with repo of your trout.Don's Taxidermy in Smithville Mo. is an award winning artist he has a website Don's Taxidermy # 816 532 3500.He might not be the cheapest but I guarantee he is without a doubt the best there is.He has done all my fish for the last 30 years and all my friends.

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Another celebrated taxidermist, Cole Cruickshank, does excellent work.  His business is called Timberland Taxidermy, you can check his website for background and prices.  Also I'd suggest giving him a call to give him the details of your catch, he can do some really cool creative stuff.

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I recently had a replica done by King Sailfish mounts of a nice cutthroat I caught a few months ago. They will do a complete custom replica or for less $$ they have "off the shelf" blanks from previous mounts that they will paint based on your pictures.

Here is a link to their "off the shelf" rainbows.


Here is how mine turned out and a pic of the actual trout.






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Forgot to mention that it took a little over a month. Also I saved about $55 by not ordering the driftwood background. I just found a suitable piece of driftwood along the bank of the river, soaked it in bleach for a few days and put it out in the sun to dry.


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Guys, how good a replica fish you will get from a taxidermist depends upon several things.  First, how close to YOUR fish the body shape of the replica is.  Second, whether the replica has translucent fins.  Third, how much of an airbrush artist the taxidermist is.  Fish are one the most difficult things to get a good product, because they always involve painting it, and most taxidermists are mediocre painters at best.  As an artist who actually paints a LOT of fish, I know exactly what to look for in a replica mount.  Just for fun, I went to all four websites mentioned so far and will critique them...

Don's Taxidermy--pretty darned good on fish, probably the best of all of them mentioned.  His largemouth bass are pretty close to spot on in color pattern.  I always look at the shape of the dark band running down the side on largemouth.  It's pretty easy to find good photos of largemouth showing the band and other markings, but it seems that a whole lot of taxidermists just don't get it right.  The band starts out being a series of barely connected blotches, up close to the head, but by the time you get to the last one third of the body toward the tail, the blotches have blended together to a solid band with only slightly irregular edges.  The blotches on the more blotchy area are only slightly wider than that more solid dark band.  Most taxidermists either miss the difference from front to back and make the whole thing blotchy, or they make the blotches a lot wider toward the front.  He's a little off on the dark stripes on the sides of the bass's head, though, and the darker blotches on the upper sides and back of his bass (they don't always show up on live bass) are a little more off. His trout aren't quite as good, but still pretty good.  

Timberland Taxidermy--I didn't see any trout on their website, so can't judge.  Trout are pretty difficult to paint, even more so than bass.  His bass are not quite as good as Don's in my opinion but still pretty good.

King Sailfish Mounts--their trout look darned good.  If the trout in the post is any indication, other than the lack of enough spots, they got the colors good.  Only question is how close a replica they can find to your trout, and whether the paint job is typical--some of their trout on their website weren't quite as good.

Koch Taxidermy--I hope he's not a good friend of you guys, because I felt he's the worst of the bunch.  His bass are pretty poor.  His striped bass are really bad.  Some of his trout, probably the replicas, are pretty good, but the skin mounts are a disaster.  Which isn't too surprising, though, because doing a skin mount of a trout is exceedingly difficult.  The adipose fin and head structures shrink and wrinkle as they dry, and the skin of a trout is thin, and any imperfection shows up more because the scales are so small.  Big scales really help to hold a skin in shape and keep it from bulging and wrinkling at inopportune places.  I think he'd do a decent replica trout for you, but no way I'd recommend him for bass.

Oh, the translucent fin thing...all fish have translucent fins.  A solid, opaque fin is very unnatural-looking.  If I was designing replicas, I'd make all the fins translucent AND make them bigger, as in the rays extending out farther, so they could be trimmed by the taxidermist to the size and shape of YOUR fish's fins.  Fin size and shape varies in individual fish.  I've seen a few replicas with translucent fins, and I'd really look for that in the ones your taxidermist uses.

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