Traeger Smoked Tailor – Recipe and Cooking Guide

Hey Smokers, and welcome to my post where we will run through my Traeger smoked Tailor – recipe and cooking guide. As you may or may not know, this site is all about cooking on my Traeger Pro Series 22 Pellet Smoker and seeing where we can take things.

Traeger Smoked Tailor - Header

Now, let’s be clear here, smoked fish is not something I have really ever enjoyed, nor spent too much time thinking about. Especially when there are all those glorious Pork Butts and Beef Ribs to master. However, in this instance, my neighbor (the professional fisherman) lobbed on the doorstep with some fresh Tailor (aka Bluefish, Elf or Shad) telling me “these smoke up real nice”!

Sooooo, off we go..

Check out my: Traeger Smoked Crab Cakes

Traeger Smoked Tailor: What You’ll Need

Ok, so below is what I used to cook me some Tailor on my Traeger pellet smoker:


  • 2 whole tailor fish, cleaned and gutted (I had three but nevermind haha)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 lemons, sliced
  • Fresh herbs (such as dill, parsley, or thyme), roughly chopped(I didn’t use this but can see the benefits)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika or even a rub (which I used)
  • Water and salt for wet brine (optional)


  • Pellet smoker
  • Wood pellets (apple or cherry wood works well with fish)
  • Fish grilling basket (optional)
  • Meat thermometer
traeger smoked Tailor - tailor on board

The Cooking Process

This is what I did and when:

Wet Brine:

I chose to wet brine my Tailor pre-cook:

  • Fill a large container with water and add some salt (as little or as much as you like)
  • Add the fish and place all in the fridge for as ling as you like (I put mine in for around 5 hours)


  1. Preheat the Pellet Smoker: Start by preheating your pellet smoker to 225°F (107°C).
  2. Prepare the Tailor: Remove the fish from the brine (or the fridge) and pat dry with paper towels. Make sure the fish is thoroughly cleaned and gutted.
  3. Season the Fish: Brush the fish inside and out with olive oil. Season the cavity of each fish with salt, pepper, (or even minced garlic or herbs if you like) and then place lemon slices inside for added moisture and flavor. If you like, sprinkle the outside of the fish with smoked paprika or a rub to enhance the smoky taste.
  4. Prepare for Smoking: If you’re using a fish grilling basket, place the fish inside it. This makes handling the fish easier and helps keep it intact during the smoking process.

I used olive oil, salt and pepper, a small block of butter and a couple of lemon slices on the inside and then olive oil and a seafood rub on the outside of the fish. I also sliced the skin in a couple of places to allow for greater smoke penetration as well – I saw this on a video once!

Smoking Process:

  1. Smoke the Tailor: Place the fish in the preheated smoker. If not using a grilling basket, you can place the fish directly on the grill grates (which I did). Close the lid and smoke the fish for about 1 to 1.5 hours.
  2. Check the Temperature: The fish is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C) when checked with a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the fish.
  3. Rest Before Serving: Once the fish is cooked, remove it from the smoker and let it rest for a few minutes before serving. with some hot chips and a salad.

I had three decent sized fish on the grill of the smoker and found that I reached the required internal temperature after around 65 minutes. I strongly suggest checking temps regularly after around 50 minutes as fish will dry out extremely quickly once it is cooked.

traeger smoked Tailor - tailor cooked in smoker

My Results

I mentioned above that I am not a real fan of smoked fish but to be honest (and I am not just saying that for the purposes of this post), I actually really liked the final results here. The fish was cooked really well whilst still being moist with just a hint of that smokey flavor.

Again, I wouldn’t leave it for too long without checking the internal temps as you really only want this just cooked and not dry. Also, the seafood rub on the outside really worked well too. Even my wife liked it, and she is really really fussy when it comes to fish – especially as there are all those bones still there with whole fish!

All in all, this one was a winner for sure!


  • Wood Pellets: Apple or cherry wood pellets are recommended for their mild and slightly sweet smoke, which complements the flavor of the fish without overpowering it.
  • Monitoring: Keep an eye on the smoker’s temperature and the fish’s internal temperature to ensure even cooking.
  • Moisture: The lemon slices inside the fish will help keep it moist during the smoking process. You can also baste the fish with a little olive oil halfway through cooking if it looks dry.


So there you have it, my recipe and cooking guide for some Traeger smoked Tailor (or smoked Bluefish if you would prefer). I hope it has been of assistance but as usual, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to reach out by commenting below. I would also love to hear of your own experiences, preferences or suggestions here as well.

Are there any other products you have been looking at but want to know more about? If so, please comment below and I will do my best to get some details for you.

Until next time

Have fun and get smoking!


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