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Fish Fillet Knife – What to Look For – Which to Buy

April 25, 2013 4:05 pm2 commentsViews: 3213

Fish Fillet Knife Considerations

There are five things to think about when considering which fish fillet knife or knives you want to buy.

These are:

  • Their length
  • Their blade
  • Their handle
  • And any extras
  • Plus the electric option.

Fillet Knife Length

Fish fillet knives come in three general sizes, short, medium and long.  The short size is generally ideal for panfish, like crappies, sunfish and perch. A short blade would be around 6 inches long,  maybe a bit shorter.

The medium size blade is ideal for somewhat larger fish, like a nice bass, eating walleye  or trout and would typically be in the 7 to 7 1/2 inch range.

And a large fillet knife for freshwater purposes would have a 9 to 10 inch blade, to handle a big walleye, northern pike or lake trout., etc.

A well rounded collection of all three is ideal, but if you are to have just one, the mid size blade in the 7  1/2 inch range is a good compromise choice.

Fillet Knife Blade

As a general rule, fillet knife blades are made of stainless steel. However, despite the name stainless, it appears that not are created equal. I have seen stainless stain and rust. Especially if you enjoy an occasional salt water fishing trip or two.

The rule of thumb seems to be that you get what you pay for, and you are generally better off with a known brand than getting buy cheap.

A key consideration for a fillet knife, especially the shorter and mid sized blade is it’s flexibility.  This is needed for smaller fish to provide the required maneuverability.  For longer blades which will be used on bigger fish, you need a bit mode backbone so these should be somewhat thicker blades and firmer.

Fillet Knife Handles

Congratulations if you have had a good day and caught a mess of fish. Now you need to clean them.  The more fish you have to fillet, the more you are going to appreciate paying attention to the handle.

The not so secret formula is Grip + Comfort = Control

Traditionally fillet knives come with wood handles, but more and more you will see plastic and rubber handles that can offer superior comfort and grip.  A wood handle can get a bit slippery from fish slime as you work your way through a big catch. Now the simple solution is to rinse the handle as well as the blade off as you go, so there is no reason to rule out wood on this account.

However some of the plastic and rubber handles offer some comfort and grip characteristics that can clearly be a plus.

Some knives will have indented finger grips which can add to both comfort and grip, if and only if, they are appropriately sized to your hand.  If you have large hands, or I suppose small hands, they may not be a plus – so consider this if you fall on either side of “typical.” in terms of hand/finger size.

Fillet Knife Extras

Fillet knives are often packaged with additional items. The most common addition is a sheath, which is highly desirable for safe storage, and helping keep your knife clean and sharp.  Most fishing fillet knives will come with a sheath, although as seen below, in some cases the knife will come with a cutting board or other utensil with a special compartment for knife storage instead.

The next most common and useful addition is a sharpening tool.  These will vary in style, but a key to success with any fillet knife starts with the sharpness of the knife.  If you have to, you can work around a too short or too long fillet knife a lot easier than dealing with a dull one.

Several manufacturers also include cutting boards as part of the package. The type with a clip to help grip a fish can be useful, particularly for those with less experience filleting.

Electric Fillet Knifes

For those who do a lot of fishing and clean a lot of fish, the electric fillet knives offer some distinct advantages. They work well.  The key is to pay attention to how they are powered. Those with re-chargable batteries are great if you are camping or doing a shore lunch.  Some brands will allow you to hook to your boat battery, or cigarette lighter in your car as well.

Personally, I use a 7 1/2 inch Rapala knife which I keep in its sheath in my tackle box. It has a wooden handle and has served me for many years.  There have been time when I wished for a longer knife, and I probably would be more effective with panfish with a smaller one. But as I said above, a good mid sized knife is adequate most of the time.

 

Filleting Fish

Elsewhere in this blog I have posted about how to fillet fish. The technique varies slightly by species.

See How to fillet sunfish for a good overview that applies to sunnies and crappies.

See How to Fillet Walleye to see two approaches to filleting walleye including the use of an electric knife.

See How to Fillet Northern Pike with attention especially to dealing with their Y bones.

 

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 Rapala Fillet Board With 6-Inch Fillet Knife/Single-Stage Sharpener

Rapala Fillet Board With 6-Inch Fillet Knife/Single-Stage Sharpener

 

  • 24″ Fillet Board
  • FDA Approved Hardwood
  • Rust-Resistant Deep-Jaw Steel Clamp
  • Includes FNF 6″ Fillet Knife
  • Single Stage Sharpener

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Bubba Blade 7-Inch Tapered Flex Fillet Knife

Bubba Blade 7-Inch Tapered Flex Fillet Knife

Bubba Blade 7-Inch Tapered Flex Fillet Knife

 

  • 7″ Blade with 6″ handle for a total length of 13″
  • Full tang construction from a single piece of steel
  • Teflon® coated – prevents rusting & pitting
  • Large patented textured no slip grip handle
  • Custom black synthetic sheath with Velcro straps

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Great Gift Idea for the Fisher

RapalaBirch & Salmon Collector Fillet 7 1/2

Rapala Birch & Salmon Collector Fillet 7 1/2

Rapala Birch & Salmon Collector Fillet 7 1/2

  • true testament to the art of knife, this knife and tooled leather sheath will make a prized possession for any recipient.
  • The hand-forged carbon steel blade runs through length of curly birch handle for maximum strength
  • Finished with brass salmon head sculpture and scalloped ferrule
  • Heirloom gift box adds a true sense of occasion.

 

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Buck 225 Silver Creek Large Fixed Blade Filet Knife

Buck 225 Silver Creek Large Fixed Blade Filet Knife

Buck 225 Silver Creek Large Fixed Blade Filet Knife

  • Includes Knife, Box, Sheath, and Warranty Registration Card
  • The Buck 225 Silver Creek Large Fillet Knife features a 9-5/8 inch 420J2 Titanium Coated Steel Blade
  • The Silver Creek Fillet Knife also Features a Titanium Coating for Corrosion Resistance
  • The 225 Silver Creek Large Fillet Knife comes with an Injection Molded Sheath with an Integrated Belt Clip and Stylized Drain Holes
  • The Buck 225 Silver Creek Fillet Knife, as with all Buck Knives, features Buck’s 4-Ever Warranty

 

 American Angler 110V Efk Freshwater Shark Blade and Fillet Kit

American Angler 110V Efk Freshwater Shark Blade and Fillet Kit

American Angler 110V Efk Freshwater Shark Blade and Fillet Kit

 

  • Provides comfort, convenience and control with an advanced cooling system for cooler operation
  • 10-Inch shark blade and fillet glove
  • 8-Inch and 5.5-Inch fillet blade design features double serration for faster filleting
  • Fillet glove is vinyl coated stainless steel wire which resists cutting and provides excellent grip
  • Electric fillet kit 110-Volt, electric fillet knife with 8-Inch and 5-Inch freshwater blades

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Rapala Rechargeable Cordless Electric Fillet Knife

Rapala Rechargeable Cordless Electric Fillet Knife

Rapala Rechargeable Cordless Electric Fillet Knife

 

  • Relaxed Grip Body
  • Dual Rechargeable Battery Packs
  • Advanced Air Flow Design
  • A 6 inch and 7-1/2 inch blade are included
  • AC Battery Charger

 

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