Photo of a mounted Trout

Replicas vs Skin MountsBeyond the Media Hype- One Taxidermists Opinion


Comparison 
Replicas or Reproductions
Skin Mounts, Using Museum-based Methods
StructuralDetail 
Excellent reproduction of skin detail and body shape of a dead fish; on larger fish, sagging musculature may create problems. Check out these replicas of a walleye and a striped bass. Skin detail is usually well retained if no scale loss; accuracy of body shape will depend on individual taxidermist's observation skills and ability to accurately carve artificial body; some shrinkage will occur on fins and head, requiring re-building to natural shape. 
PatternDetail
All colors and patterns must be painted on the blank (i.e., white) surface of the replica. Accurate reproduction of the detailed patterns would require many hours of painstaking work, so the painting typically omits natural details on most fish.  Although colors fade substantially, detailed patterns remain visible, and allow the artist to restore natural colors while retaining all the original markings. The finished mount looks very natural. 
Durability
Very good. Polyester resin and fiberglass reproductions can crack, but are quite strong.  Fair. Fins are easily broken unless they are extensively reinforced. 
Life Expectancy
Unknown, since the chemical products used are of relatively recent origin.  Excellent, for at least a human life-time, if the skin is properly cleaned, degreased and protected against insect or rodent damage. Could be very poor if proper steps not taken. 
EnvironmentalImpact: Conservation VS Waste
Fish can be caught and released, but not all released fish survive. The replica producers must obtain (and kill) a large number of fish to have different mold sizes available. The meat is usually wasted in producing the molds.  There is one less fish to catch in the future. The meat can usually be saved and eaten. 
Cost
Comparable, but reproductions tend to be somewhat more expensive. 

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