While I have won ribbons in almost all categories of competition, one of the the things I do best, and enjoy doing most, are fish reproductions. And having been in this business for 25 years, I can tell you the last 5 years have seen big improvements in the quality and selection of available fish replicas. Not only are more sizes and species being continually added, but the fins on many repro's are now thin and flexible and many can now be finished on both sides for competition style pedestal mounts.
I do not manufacture the reproductions myself, (with the exception of the Sturgeon heads) - but rather I use reproductions available from MANY companies. Currently, I purchase unfinished replicas called blanks from more than 10 different manufacturers. This enables me to match, or nearly match, your fishes species, length, weight, girth and sex with a suitable replica. I find the closest match to the size & species you request, in best quality reproduction I can get. You may be given a choice of several sizes and types or there may be limited selection. Many species are not popular to reproduce and as a result, choice may be limited. My job is to use my skill & experience, and transform a piece of molded fiberglass into personal wildlife art and a visible memory of your trophy.
All reproductions are cast from real fish & there are 3 main parts to every reproduction -
Mold - this is the cast of the actual fish. It can be plaster, fiberglass or rubber
Gel coat - this is the first layer put in the mold & is the part of the repro you see. It is usually some form of polyresin casting material.
Fiber or support layers - this provides thickness, strength & durability to the replica. Most commonly use is chopped fiberglass or fiberglass mat.
The detail in the reproduction depends on the quality of the mold and the material used in the gel coat. Together these materials produce the replica or "blank". There are 2 main types of materials currently used make fish reproductions - fiberglass & acrylic resin. Graphite reproductions will discussed later
FIBERGLASS REPRODUCTIONS - (or "glass")
ACRYLIC RESIN - (or "resin")
Latex - This is a rigid casting latex which picks up amazing detail in our sturgeon, catfish and salmon heads. It is poured into the plaster mold and allowed to sit for several to form a "skin" about 3/16" thick. The excess latex is poured back out and the skin allowed to cure for 24 hours and then it is removed from the mold while still flexible. After a couple of days, a backboard is attached and it is filled with foam. At that time, the mouth can be installed, eyes set, whiskers installed and any defects repaired before painting.