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10 Top Quality Knives for the Skilled Fisherman

Whether you love fishing, cooking, or both, you get the results you want with the right tools.

Not having the proper knife to fillet a fish can cause a lot of unnecessary frustration. Attempting to fillet a fish with a dull blade makes it very difficult to remove scales and skin. Just as you won’t catch a fish without bait and a rod, fish and other foods are best prepared using a knife specifically for that purpose. Not all knives are created equal. A beautiful looking knife may not hold up in the kitchen, so you have to recognize different kinds of knives.

Buying Guide

  • Blade Material: Blades are made out of a multitude of materials, usually stainless steel in Sweden, Japan, America, or Switzerland.
  • Handle Material: Handles can be made out of various materials including; G-10 Garolite, birch, rubber, and other sturdy materials.
  • Full tang: This is the terminology used for knives entirely from a blade with the handles attached on either side.
  • Blade Length: This will help you determine the best use of the knife. Shorter blades can be used for smaller fish while longer blades are for large fish and heavy duty fish cleaning.
  • Bolster: The bolster is the area between the knife blade and the handle.
  • Heel: The heel of a knife is on the back of the spine just before the handle begins.
  • Rivets: The rivets are located down the handle of a knife and are marked by their smooth, circular, metal appearance. Not all knives have rivets.
  • Balance: As indicated, a balanced knife means the center of gravity is centrally located.
  • Hardness: Hardness is indicated by the Rockwell hardness scale. Most decent knives have a Rockwell hardness between 58 and 62.

Shogun Series Filet Knife by DALSTRONG

The DALSTRONG filet knife has 66 layers of high carbon VG-10 Japanese steel with a 62+ Rockwell hardness. It has a razor sharp cutting angle from eight degrees to 12 degrees. It serves as both a fillet knife and a boning knife. The knife has triple rivets on the knife handle with the center rivet embellished with copper and brass. 

The full tang blade reaches all the way to the end of the knife. It is also bolstered on both handles and extremely smooth to the touch. The black sheath has an added layer of protection because of the red cord and locking pin. Simply pull on the cord to release the sheath.

The DALSTRONG filet knife has a 2.0 mm thick, laser-engraved blade. The blade is not very thick, making this knife design for precision cuts. The blade shows the DALSTRONG lion logo. The handle is military grade, made out of G-10 Garolite. It’s great for fish and butterflying poultry. The bolster provides a natural thumb grip and helps protect the thumb from the blade

What I like:

The knife has been nitrogen cooled, which increases hardness and makes the knife resistant to corrosion. It’s triple riveted with a full tang. It has a strong Japanese VG-10 steel blade with a Rockwell hardness of 62. The blade is curve-shaped similar to a scimitar rather than straight-edged. This allows you to cut angles with precision.

  • Sharp blade with precise cuts
  • Beautiful rose blade design
  • Perfect for use in the home or out fishing
  • Vacuum-heat treated

What I don’t like:

This is not the knife to depend on for flexibility and comfort. You may prefer a more comfortable handle on your knife. The handle on this knife is squared rather than rounded. The blade is not very flexible and fairly stiff. Regular use of the knife may require sharpening after a month. This DALSTRONG knife is considered a bit expensive, especially when compared to other knives in the same class.

  • Pricey when compared to similar knives
  • Not very flexible
  • May grow dull quickly

Fish N Fillet Knife by Rapala

The handle is varnished with reinforced Birch and made in China. The full tang stainless steel blade is razor sharp. The blade is made in Sweden, making it a Scandinavian tool. The Rapala 4” fillet knife is balanced and able to cut fillets easily due to having the right amount of flex.

Overall, this knife can be depended on by fishermen. It’s great for people with smaller hands. The knife includes holster and sharpener. Plus, it includes a matching leather protective sheath. If you select this knife, prepare to receive a very small tool. This is the smallest fillet knife from this brand with two additional sizes available.

What I like:

Unlike many of the knives on this list, this knife includes a sharpener and a holster. These are items that you’ll inevitably need if you plan on maintaining your knife.

  • Low-priced
  • Has kept for ten years for some people
  • Lightweight
  • Arrives very sharp

What I don’t like:

This is a decent knife, but it simply doesn’t compare to some of the other knives available in this price range. This is not a heavy duty knife, and the small blade does not give you much to work with. The knife and blade are so small it may be best suited for a young adult.

  • Does not hold up to filleting jobs that last a long time
  • Will inevitably require sharpening

Classic Ikon 7-Inch Fillet With Sheath by Wusthoff

The manufacturer Wusthof has been around for more than 200 years creating quality knives. The Wusthof Classic Ikon is meant specifically for filleting fish and not necessarily other land animals. The end of the blade has a moderate degree of flexibility so that you can get behind the fish's head and easily remove bones and skin. This fillet knife is the exemplary model of German Cutlery. It has a full bolster and thick tang. The blade has been sharpened to 14 degrees which is sharper than some Japanese quality knives are. The blade is created with a proprietary blend of materials with a hardness of 58.

What I like:

It’s good to know that when you purchase from this brand, you’re buying craftsmanship that has withstood hundreds of years. This seems like an investment piece-you’re getting quality and experience for your money. Wusthof is made in Solingen, Germany. It’s known as the “City of Blades” because it’s home to a number of blade manufacturers.

  • Laser-tested to ensure cutting precision and sharpness
  • Sharpens easily with the SR-2 Rollsharp
  • Extremely sharp and holds its edge for a long time (fillet glove may be necessary)
  • Great for fish and cutting chicken and turkey skin

What I don’t like:

The Wusthof is on the upper end of the pricing scale. You can consider it an investment because it is designed to have sharpness that lasts.

  • The blade is sharp, it requires additional caution when handling
  • Not the most ergonomic handle

Fillet Knife with Leather Scabbard by Rada Cutlery

This Rada knife includes a leather scabbard with a strap that can be worn on a belt. It’s small enough to fit perfectly in a tackle box and large enough to fillet large fish. This is an excellent choice for taking on a fishing trip because it's safe for use in wet environments. 

The blade is made from T420 high carbon, surgical grade stainless steel. It’s also hollow ground and sharpened to a razor sharp edge for retention. The blade measures 7-1/8 inches while the entire length is 12-1/4 inches. 

The handle is made of non-slip, soft black rubber. It’s entirely American-made in Waverly, Iowa. Rada has stood by they're high-quality cutlery made with detailed craftsmanship since 1948. All cutlery made by Radea includes a lifetime guarantee.

What I like:

Due to the scabbard strap and size of the knife, it’s appropriate to travel with on a fishing trip. You have the option of carrying it on your person or in your tackle box. It’s common for your hands to get wet while filleting fish. 

The rubber grip is a kind of protection for your hand, helping ensure you don’t lose your grip and cut yourself. The knife can be sharpened with a sharpening stone made by Rada or a diamond sharpener. 

The slender blade is truly made for filleting and can easily remove skin-from peeling a tomato to skinning a catfish. However, you may want to use a different knife with more weight for gutting and removing the head of a fish. The lifetime warranty by Rada may become useful. If buying American products is of importance, this is the clear choice to make.

  • Cutting a large Pike and removing many bones is no issue
  • Includes the option to attach it to your belt
  • Finger indentations give the knife a balanced, tactile feel
  • May be resistant to corrosion due to surgical steel
  • Fairly priced, especially when compared to other options

What I don’t like:

While the knife is sharp, you may expect it to be sharper when it arrives out of the box. If you use knives frequently for fishing or cooking it may grow dull quicker than usual. A quick sharpening will revive the blade.

  • The scabbard is flexible and may bend and fold during shipping or use
  • The scabbard will absorb the smell of fish and may not be as easy to clean as a plastic sheath
  • May get dull quickly and require sharpening

Fishing Comfort Fillet Knife by Morakniv

The blade is thin, but it is capable of filleting an entire large trout, from cutting off the head to creating fillet pieces. The blade has ultra-fine carbides and is resistant to corrosion. 

The Moraniv fishing fillet knife includes a sheath containing multiple drain holes. The sheath does not entirely conceal the blade, it is exposed, but that offers excellent drainage. The Morakniv fillet knife is 10.6 inches in length with a thin Sandvik 12C27 blade measuring .07 inches in thickness. 

The knife has a decent weight at 3.5 oz. The high friction grip on the handle makes it easy to grip the knife and maneuver along the spine, separating meat from bone. It's made to prevent injury during use. The knife is also wearable; it includes exchangeable belt clips.

What I like:

The knife has an incredible grip for when you’re cutting outdoors, and your hands are covered in a liquid such as water or blood. The blade is long enough to remove large, beautiful fillets. It holds its edge excellently, and it might take some time before it needs sharpening.

  • Long, balanced blade makes easy cutting
  • Holds sharp edge with minimal stropping
  • Can be used on smaller fish and larger fish such as kingfish

What I don’t like:

The blade can break under an intense amount of pressure since it is so thin. This happens because the blade does not appear to be full tang.

  • Thin stainless steel blade
  • Not full tang

Professional Grade Electric Fillet Knife Standard Kit by American Angler PRO

Using an electric fillet versus a manual one allows you to accomplish the same kind of work much faster. The American Angler PRO has a vented air flow system that cools the machinery down. You can have options on which fillet blade to use with this EFK. 

The knife includes a set of eight-inch freshwater blades. The knife operates with two blades and will not work with a single blade. Although, it’s compatible with additional blades including the 8-Inch Curved Replacement Shark and 8-Inch Curved Replacement. This knife is used by professional fishing guides.

What I like:

It can withstand high degrees of use. It allows you fillet with fantastic speed and works great for a long period.

  • Just the right amount of power to make filleting and deboning a breeze
  • Long eight-inch blade for processing large fish
  • Continues to work season after season

What I don’t like:

His knife has a large handle that is not meant for people with smaller hands. The American Angler Pro is somewhat heavy. If it were a more lightweight item, it would be more easy to maneuver. While the unit works well, it is simply larger than it could be.

  • Two year limited lifetime warranty as opposed to a full lifetime
  • This knife has a large handle and may present a challenge for people with smaller hands
  • The knife may require more skill to maneuver since it weighs roughly two pounds

8-Inch Straight Fillet Fishing Knife by Victorinox Cutlery

This compact, yet robust knife was made in Switzerland by a well-known brand. From the creators of the Swiss Army knife, the brand is best known for making pocket knives and multitools. 

This straight fillet fishing knife is meant to cut through tiny fish bones as opposed to large ones. The semi-flexible and thin blade is made of fibrox. It maintains a sharp edge for a long period and can be used for large fish weighing 25 to 45 lbs. 

This makes it great for skinning halibut and salmon. It’s a simple knife, but capable of cutting large fish such as dorado and jack. It’s a choice knife for creating thick steaks of large fish such as tuna, swordfish, rockfish, cod, and bass.

What I like:

This is the knife of the experienced fisherman that may spend up to six hours or more cleaning fish. If you need to clean any small to medium vertebrae fish, this is your knife. The handle is slip-resistant and ergonomic. The piece arrives razor-sharp and is quite the workhorse for the price.

  • Can also be used for beef or poultry
  • Great knife to purchase and build a collection around
  • Ice-tempered so that edge sharpness is retained longer

What I don’t like:

As a high-quality knife manufactured from a quality maker, the knife simply doesn't have many downsides. The knife is incredibly sharp and protection would be beneficial.

  • Does not include a sheath or scabbard to protect you and the knife

Heavy Duty Electric Fillet Knife by Rapala

Using a Rapala means you can have certain expectations. You can expect the blade to be very sharp, hold its edge, and remain consistent. You'll know what to expect each time from using this knife. If you have a lot of fish to fillet and access to an outlet, this is a great tool. It's equipped with a reciprocating blade and creates nice even cuts along the spine.

What I like:

The reciprocating blade is heavy duty and can be easily removed for cleaning. Once it needs to be cleaned, just wash the blade in your dishwasher. Using an electric fillet knives results in less waste of meat because you're able to cleanly remove thin layers of skin.

Once a time has passed, and you need new blades, they can be replaced affordably. This knife is perfect for quickly filleting lots of fish in cold weather. It makes fast work out of fish with large scales and bones.

  • Twice the speed and triple the power of the standard Rapala EFK
  • Cuts through backbones and rib bones of large fish with no problem
  • Eight-foot power cord for plenty of space when working

What I don’t like:

If you’re not careful when using an electric knife to fillet a fish, you can destroy the flesh. After filleting around 20 fish, the blades may grow dull.

  • Must be near a source of power to use
  • Not cordless
  • Gets warm when cleaning lots of fish

Lithium Ion Cordless Fillet Knife Combo by Rapala

The Rapala includes a set of serrated, reciprocating stainless steel blades that measure 6" & 7-1/2". This is an ideal knife if you need power in your filleting while you're out fishing with no access to an outlet. 

The unit includes the 100V AC battery charger which powers the EFK within two hours. It can be used for 80 minutes without any reduction in power due to the lithium-ion batteries. 

The motor is quiet and high-torque, making it a tool you can use in the kitchen as well as outdoors. This knife will make quick work of the task no matter how big or small your fillet job might be.

What I like:

This knife is capable of handling your entire meal; from cutting squash to heavy bread and fish. It lasts through the cutting and carving of Thanksgiving poultry. This is the perfect solution for getting a lot of filleting done quickly.

  • Very sharp blade that you can use on the go
  • Easily graspable body for an extra secure grip
  • Includes a padded storage case

What I don’t like:

You may have some difficulty inserting and removing the blades because they lock in so solidly. The handle is quite large, and it may not be the most suitable option for people with small hands. As most fishers know, an outlet is not usually available when you’re out fishing. You'll need to recharge it after each use.

  • The handle
  • Could have additional power for more heavy duty carving

Comparison Chart

Classic Gokujo Boning and Fillet by Shun

Made in Seki City Japan, this Japanese Gokujo knife is perfect for filleting and boning fish. The manufacturer KAI precision-forged the blade with 33 layers of stainless steel. 

The handle is made out of pakkawood, and the blade has a Damascus-style design. The core of the blade is made out of high carbon VG-10. The cutting angle is at 16 degrees per side. The knife weighs about 7.2 ounces total. 

The entire knife measures 11 by 8/9 by 1-4/5 inches. It includes a limited lifetime warranty, and it’s recommended to wash this knife by hand. The Shun Classic fillet knife maintains its sharp edge for years and has a Rockwell hardness of 60-61.

What I like:

The Shun Classic Fillet knife easily cuts away meat from bones, tendons, and joints. This knife is also a great choice to build a collection on whether it’s your first knife or one among many distinguished knives. The knife can also be ordered in the D-shaped handle style or the reverse D-shaped handle style.

  • Created based upon an age-old tradition of making Samurai swords
  • A Very sharp blade with a beautiful Damascus design
  • Double-beveled

What I don’t like:

This particular knife is a beautiful sight to behold, but it may take some work to ensure its upkeep. If you have a little time each week to ensure it’s sharpness, you may have this knife for a long time to come.

  • Weekly honing to maintain the integrity of the blade
  • May become damaged if used for heavy duty filleting

A Fillet Knife for Every Preference

While many knives may state that they are dishwasher safe, it is always best to treat high-quality knives with the utmost care. Stick to handwashing your knife to ensure the integrity of the materials. To maintain a perfect edge, you may want to use a honing rod on the knife after you have used it for a while. Sparingly, you can also sharpen your knife with a whetstone to maintain the performance of the knife over its lifetime. When selecting the best fish fillet knife, consider if you will be outdoors, near an outlet, catching small or large fish, and the size of your hands in comparison to the tool.

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