Why Trust Us
Kayak Fisherly is the name of trust for thousands of fish lovers and fishing enthusiasts across the country. We have veteran fishing gear experts, adventurers, and market analysts in our gang to walk the extra mile for our audience performing extensive market research and field tests on our reviewing units to come up with exclusive reviews and blogs.
We’re also keen observers of the fishing gear industry and keep track of all the latest trends and developments. That is how we know the right gear and equipment for the right situation and arrangement. We understand the value of each catch made possible by the right tactics and equipment.
Needless to say, we don’t have any financial affiliation with any brand or manufacturer, instead, we stick to facts. Our mission is to bring the most useful information to the table for our readers, so they can make informed decisions.
Our Product Selection Process
We went through a series of market research, specs check, feature analysis, comparison, field-tests, and re-evaluation of the final choices in the light of industry experts and professional chefs.
Initially, we spent more than 30 hours to find out the ultimate fish fillet knives from hundreds of models. That way we extracted 25 top-rated models from the most reliable brands.
Once we had managed the initially listed models at hand, we tested them out one by one. A group of community-based volunteers assisted us in carrying out the test sessions. We closely examined the building material, design, shape, form factors, sharpness, handle design, gripping, and durability of the models. Based on these factors, we championed 10 models from the rest.
We also consulted with other industry experts, chefs, and knife designers, and collected their perspectives and insights for having a better understanding of our finally selected models. With that, we proceeded to write full reviews on them.
To be frank, we do not boast that each product was tested with 100% accuracy, as no review is perfect. But we are sure that the extensive research and testing helped us single out the best products. We have no doubt that these are some of the top quality fillet knives on the market.
Our Top 10 Best Fish Fillet Knife List
So, what is the best fish fillet knife? Or who makes the best models? Well, here’s the moment of truth, there’s no single model that meets everybody’s requirements. This is why we have a collection of them sorted and tested for you. These items were specially chosen after careful analysis of basic factors that make a great fillet knife. We’re sure you’ll find one from our categorized top picks that suits your every need.
Other Notable brands & Tested Models
We came across hundreds of other reputable brands and their popular products as we continued our research. Not all of them made it to our list as we had scope for only 10. Still, we want to take this space to mention their names in case you are up for further market research:
Forschner, Toastmaster (known for cordless models), Global (known for 10-inch models), Outdoor Edge, Western, Cutco (5720, 5721), Dexter Russell, Wusthof (known for Classic Ikon), Kershaw (Clearwater), Gerber (Gator, Controller), Fisherman’s Solution®, Marttiini, Shun, Normark, Mustad, Mister Twister (Mr Twister), Opinel, Danco, Mojiko, Ozark (known for Trail), Berkley, Fiskars, Rada, Shimano, Billy Bay, Bass Pro (known for XPS), Zwilling, Knives Of Alaska, Penn, Hoss, Victory Knives, Buck Silver (known for Creek), Mundial, Miyabi, Goodell, Renegade, Sea Striker,
Other less known brands with great production lines:
Imperial, Tramontina, White River, Chicago Cutlery, Antler, Bed Bath & Beyond, Dalstrong (known for Gladiator, Shogun), Makita, Field and Stream, KVD, Maxam, Swibo, Falcon, Shark, MAC, G96, Anaconda, Filletzall, KEEMAKE (known for Deba), Milwaukee (known for cordless models), Ridgid (often misspelled as Rigid), F Dick, Williamson, Tsunami, J Marttiini, Svord, Barracuda, Cuda (known for titanium models), Bed Bath & Beyond, Storm Manufacturing Corp., Zwilling J. A. Henckels, Havalon, IPCO, EAT MY TACKLE, UpNorth, Wild Fish, Bear Paw, YOUSUNLONG, The Serious Catch, Dacodget, KATSU, Jero Pr,
Few more hidden gems:
Kratos, Jasni, Uncle Henry, JSHANMEI, Speder, Morakniv, Mudder, BATTLBOX, Hike-Tek, Rhinoreto, Cangshan , GripTek, Elk Ridge, Sarge, FabFiveCo, TPSB, Helle Knives, TOPFORT Outdoors, SKY LIGHT, SOG, Salty Sea, TUO, ILEAF, SZCO, Leech Lake Knives, Imarku, Angler’s Choice, Rada Cutlery, CASE XX, Cinlinso, DPNAO, Calamus, Shun Cutlery , PAUDIN, Huntsman Outdoors , Rockland, PLUSINNO, Cutluxe, Magreel and TITAN FORGE.
Other noteworthy tested models:
When Are Fillet Knives Necessary?
A fillet knife is basically a fish cutting knife. Like a fillet fork, it is specially designed to clean fish before preparation. They’re fashioned to remove scales, bones and cut fish clean off the spine. They’re also flexible enough to move cut smoothly under the flesh.
Fillet knives are very different from other knives. They’re thinner than boning knives, allowing them to easily move through fish. They’re also thicker at the ends and pointer at the tips than carving knives. This allows more strength and easy picking of bones.
With a fillet knife, you can cut and clean efficiently, whether in your kitchen or on the boat. It’s your best bet for trimming fat, deboning, descaling and cutting through fish with ease. Surprisingly, these utensils are also very handy for preparing vegetables and segmenting citrus. And they’re also good for carving smaller food like carrots or radishes.
A fillet knife is a great addition to your kitchen. If you’re an angler, this handy tool makes preparing fish much easier. It’s also a great companion for those who regularly prepare fresh fish, professionally or as a hobby.
If you fall into the general category of those who regularly prepare fresh fish, you need to pick the best fish fillet knife for you. Hopefully, our fish fillet knife reviews would help you learn how to do that and even give you options to pick from.
Fishing Fillet Knives – A Comprehensive Buying Guide
A good fillet knife is a difference between cutting fish like a pro and stabbing your fist in frustration. You want to go for something that gives you good value for your money. You need a blade that works as an extension of your very arm, cutting as precisely as you want. As such, you must consider the following factors before purchasing any fillet knife.
1. Design & Size
The combination of all its parts determines the overall design of the fillet knife, so it must be considered. The type of blade, thickness, handle material and specification of use will determine how the blade looks and feels. High-end knife models will be ergonomically satisfying and functionally effective.
It also determines what it works best for. Straight-edge blades are great for precision cuts. Serrated edges easily cut through tough scales and tapered tips Also, fillet knives come in small, medium and large sizes. What you choose depends on how large your catch is and the precise purpose of use.
The most common colors for the handles are white, black, blue, rainbow, teal, cyan, orange, purple and yellow.
All knives are basically made up of the blade and the handle, with the blade being the cutting part. Before picking a fillet knife, analyze the following blade properties; its material, its size, and its sharpness.
What is the blade made of? How sturdy and durable is it? Is it easy to sharpen? Is it rust and corrosion-resistant? Does it clean easily? All these are questions to be asked.
Generally, stainless steel is the most used blade metal because it is most versatile while high carbon steel sharpens best. Titanium steel is also used though, these are usually more expensive. Whichever you choose, make sure the material is also of high quality.
You need to ask yourself if the size of the blade improves or hinders functionality for you. Blades come in varying lengths and your choice is based on how large the fish is.
Smaller fish like bluegills require more precision and that is best achieved with shorter blades (preferably around 5 inches). Blades around 7 inches are considered ‘all-purpose’ and are suitable for averagely sized catches such as crappie, panfish and bass. And for larger fish such as salmon, blades longer than 8-9 inches should be considered.
Fillet knives are basically made for precision. So they must come with razor-sharp edges that can cut precisely and finely through fish. The edges should also be able to hold well and not blunt too quickly. Plus, you need to make sure the blade sharpens quickly and easily to maintain the edge.
3. Handle Material
The handle is the controlling part of the knife. The type of material used must be compatible with preparing and cutting fish. Cutting fish releases lots of water, slime, and blood so you’ll need a handle that doesn’t slip easily.
The material used must also be comfortable for long use in cases where you need to work on lots of fish. Good fillet knives come with wooden, rubber or plastic handles. When choosing, go for the type that agrees with your handling. However, the old vintage models are more likely to have wooden handles.
4. Comfort & Grip
Also, ensure that the grip of the knife is solid and firm. Make sure it doesn’t slip easily or you’ll wind up cutting yourself more often than the fish. A good fillet knife will feel comfortable and sturdy to your grip, regardless of the condition.
Using a fillet knife requires you to feel right when handling it. That way, you can cut and fillet with much ease. The right fillet knife for you is that which feels natural in your hand. Make sure the handle material is comfortable to your grip and doesn’t make your hands ache. You’ll appreciate this when you’re preparing lots of fish.
The thickness of the fillet knife blade determines its strength. Thicker blades are usually stronger and easily cut larger fish. Thinner blades, however, might have you struggling through that tuna. Before selecting one, ask yourself if the blade is thick enough to slice through your catch. Be assured that professional-grade knives wouldn’t fail you in the strength department.
When filleting fish, you would have situations where you need to bend the blade for better precision. This refers to the blade’s flexibility. Thinner, shorter, and smaller blades tend to be more flexible, allowing easier deboning and precision cuts. If your knife is thin, there’s no homemade or handmade remedy, and you should be buying a thicker one. You can work on making the handle more personalized though, attaching extra gripping material over it.
Flexibility is often looked for when the fish to be filleted is small. Thicker blades are usually less flexible as this is not usually required when cutting larger fish. They make up for this by offering strength in size and length.
7. Safety & Hygiene
Filleting brings you in contact with a lot of blood and bacteria, especially with freshly-caught fish. This is why it is important to purchase a knife with safety features. Most fillet knives have dimpled handles to ensure firmer grips. Others come with finger guards between the handle and the blade junction.
Also, good sanitary features must be present on a fillet knife. There must be no gap between the blade and the handle at the meeting point. This avoids the accumulation of materials that can breed bacteria in areas that are hard to clean. A good fish fillet knife must be easy to clean.
Perhaps the most important question to ask when buying fillet knives is ‘why’. Different fish and different situations require different fillet knives. In order to get a great deal, you must ensure the knife will serve the purpose efficiently.
Smaller fish require shorter, thinner, more flexible fillet knives. Larger, stiffer, longer knives work best on tougher tasks synonymous with a bigger catch, especially saltwater fish. And freshwater species can be easily prepared with medium-sized fillet knives.
Indoor tasks and bulk filtering are best performed with an electric fillet knife. Manual knives are your best bet for outdoor use as they don’t need a power source. These can be carried in different fishing spots with you. They are tiny enough to fit a fishing backpack. Some models come with a spoon attached to the knife butt, this particular part can be used for scaling the fish before slicing the flesh.
9. Electric vs Non-electric
Originally, fillet knives are used like regular knives giving you complete control over cut depth, precision, and flexibility. However, some electric sawzall type knife models are also available. These make filleting a large quantity of fish faster. Many even come with different changeable blades so you can work on a wide variety of fish. The battery-powered models are also available. These models come with rechargeable batteries.
Many users, though, prefer to be in full control of the fillet knife and opt for the non-electric models. Non-electric means manual. In the end, it boils down to what you prefer, and if time is an important factor.
Care & Maintenance Tips
Any good tool loses its quality if not properly taken care of and your fillet knife is no different. Even a good model needs constant maintenance. This is a special tool, unlike your average kitchen knife so, it is important you take great care of it. This will make sure the knife stays good and functional for a great long time.
Many people make the mistake of treating their fillet knives like any other kitchen utensil, which is very wrong. We’re talking about a tool specially crafted to survive harsh saltwater conditions and constant assault from fish fluids. If anything, it deserves special attention.
So, in order to treat your prized fillet knife with the respect it rightfully deserves, follows these tips;
- Use a plastic or bamboo cutting board for filleting or making sushi. These put less stress on the knife edge.
- Wash by hand with warm water and soap after use. A mild detergent will also do.
- Rinse off the soap and wipe dry with a soft towel. Be gentle when doing this.
- Store knife in its custom sheath and place in a drawer. If it doesn’t have one, make a specified block with a soft surface for it and it alone.
Now, you know what to do to maintain your prized fillet knife. Now, let’s go through tips on what NOT to do. If you want your knife to live a long, fruitful life, do NOT;
- Ever store without cleaning
- Ever store moist or wet
- Wash with detergent
- Wash with hot water
- Wash in a dishwasher
- Leave to soak in water or in a stainless sink
- Store loosely together with other kitchen utensils
So, we have gone through how to take care of your fillet knife, to ensure its longevity. Now, it’s time to go through tips on how to take care of YOU when filleting. These knives bank on razor-sharp edges and pointed ends to enhance performance. If care is not taken, you might end up getting seriously injured when using one of these.
Freshly caught fish can be slippery and come with loads of microbes. A cut while cleaning it is an open invitation to infection. Coupled with the sharp bones and scales, you’ll understand why extra care must be taken when filleting. In summary, follow these rules when cleaning fish to avoid constant use of your first aid kit;
- Always cut fish away from yourself and never towards. Don’t use a blank blade.
- Wear a good on your handling hand for a good grip. Waterproof gloves work best in holding the fish.
- Wear non-slip boots to get a firm stance. Also, wear an apron to protect your clothes from fish fluids.
- Try as much as possible to avoid handling fish with your knife-hand. If you do, rinse and wipe properly before resuming.
- Fillet fish on non-slip cutting board.
- Clean cutting board before preparing new fish.
- Try cutting from head to tail, down the dorsal spine. This helps you avoid injuries from the gill plates.
- Cut carefully and do not rush. Filleting is an art, so take your sweet time.
Wrapping It Up
Getting the right fillet knife can be a herculean task for most enthusiasts. This is why we have compiled this detailed list to assist you. We have done the heavy lifting by analyzing and comparing tons of products on the market. The result is a comprehensive guide aimed at helping you make an easier, yet solid choice.
All the products mentioned above are great. The Rapala Superflex grants you the utmost flexibility for maneuvering through fish. The electric-powered American Pro suits large-scale fish cleaning. And the Morakniv Fishing Comfort favors those who prefer a more laid-back filleting experience.
When you go through our list, we’re sure you’ll find a product that calls to you. Be sure to check their features so you know which product suits your needs. With this list, we’re very sure that your search for the best fillet knife has come to an end.
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1. What is the best fillet knife on the market?
Ans: Go for our 1st choice-- Rapala NK03039-BRK Fish N Fillet Knife. This one ticks all the right boxes to be the most versatile fillet knife on the list. You can also check the other models on our list, which are equally remarkable.
2. What size fish fillet knife is best?
Ans: Always pick a 6-inch knife for filleting. It’s the right size for most freshwater filleting tasks. Also, pick the one that has a skinny blade for accuracy and saving meat. Thin knives are flexible enough to skin the fish correctly.
3. What is the best steel for a fillet knife?
Ans: We prefer the Swedish Steel for fillet knives more than the others because of its unique properties. These blades are super sharp, the edges are unmatchably sturdy even when they are thin. You’d want your knife to be sharp, thin, strong, and durable, and Swedish steel can be molded into the right shape to meet all these characteristics.
4. Do I need a fillet knife?
Ans: The question somewhat is entangled with the question of whether you want to do filleting of your fish with precision. A fillet knife has no alternative if you care about perfection and those extra bits of meat that you don’t want to get wasted. If you don’t really care, you are good enough with a chef’s knife.
5. What is the best fillet knife sharpener?
Ans: Smith's CCKS 2-Step Knife Sharpener is the best fillet knife sharpener for the money. You wouldn’t need to have knife sharpening skills to sharpen your knife with this particular sharpener.