So my idea is to start out small. No not pilchards, but fillets of fish like bream or snapper. Something anyway.
When you talk of these fish may I assume you are an Aussie???
I've just retired away from a Fish and Chip shop and would suggest
:- If you are doing it at home use an egg wash, whilst at work where we crumb at lot of fish we use a batter wash.
Use garlic powder in with the flour, as much as you want, coat the fish, then through the wash, then firmly press the crumbs in to the fish. No problems with shallow frying.
A batter wash is simply flour and water a little thicker than milk
If you are doing a lot of fish sub the flour with fine Semolina, that way the fillets will not stick together while they wait to go through the next process.
A plus for Snapper over Bream for me