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If there’s one thing that can make cooking your catch easier after a long day of fishing, it’s using the best fish fillet knife to clean and prepare it.
Whether you’re cooking up a storm in your kitchen or camping at the edge of the river, a great fillet knife and a little skill can help to keep your fish both looking and tasting good.
Here are some of the top fillet knives on the market. And if you want to know which one got our award for the best fillet knife, it’s the Wusthof Classic Ikon 7, thanks to its sharp blade and quality craftsmanship.
- Wusthof Classic IKON 7” Fillet Knife (Best Overall)
- Rapala R12 Heavy-Duty Lithium Fillet Knife Combo (Best Cordless)
- Bubba 110V Electric Fillet Knife (Best Corded)
- Bubba 9 Inch Tapered Flex Knife (Best For saltwater)
- Gerber Gear Controller Saltwater Folding Knife (Best Folding Knife)
- Rapala Fish N Fillet Superflex Knife (Best Budget Fillet Knife)
11 Best Fillet Knives Reviewed
1: Wusthof Classic IKON 7” Fillet Knife (best overall)
- Blade length: 7 inches
- Weight: 3 ounces
This Wusthof Classic IKON is a high quality fillet knife and one of the best fish fillet knives on the market. But this filet knife does not come cheap, which can make it more of an investment piece.
The narrow 7-inch blade features Precision Edge Technology for a razor sharp edge and twice the edge retention of the previous models of this Wusthof knife.
The blade itself is forged from a single piece of high carbon stainless steel for extra strength.
The durable and flexible blade lets you make precise cuts, including effortlessly removing fish skin and filleting along the backbone of the fish. The thin blade is also ideal for deboning fish, including small fish.
This is a German-made knife that is resistant to corrosion and built to last. It also has the added benefit of a limited lifetime warranty which helps protect against manufacturer defects.
A downside to this fish fillet knife is that it doesn’t come with a leather sheath. So you might want to invest in your own protective sheath if you want to carry it on you or in your gear bag.
- Razor sharp edge
- German engineering
- Corrosion resistant
- Thin fixed blade
2: Rapala R12 Heavy-Duty Lithium Fillet Knife Combo (best cordless)
- Blade length: 6 inches and 7 inches
- Weight: 3.8 pounds (in carry case)
The Rapala R12 is a cordless fish fillet knife that comes in a neat carrying case with two lithium batteries and a charging station. Remember, the charging station requires a power source to charge the batteries.
If you catch a lot of fish, this Rapala cordless fillet knife can be an ideal way to clean your fish whether you’re at home or the cleaning station at the lake. Personally, I think this is the best electric fillet knife for a day trip.
It comes with both a 6-inch and 7-inch stainless steel blade so you can switch them out to suit your fish. A great feature of this fillet knife is that it has a runtime of 80 minutes (continuous usage), allowing you to fillet multiple fish on one charge.
However, it might not be the best choice for very delicate fish or very tough fish. It can be better suited to trout, bass, and walleye.
It claims to offer twice the speed of regular fish filleting knives and I agree that you can fillet fish quickly with this one.
Another useful feature that you might not find on other fillet knives is the LED light on the knife, which can help you see a little better if you fillet fish at dusk or dawn.
- Fast cutting speed
- 80-minute runtime
- Two blade lengths
- Storage case
- Not great for delicate, small fish
3: Bubba 110V Electric Fillet Knife (best corded)
- Blade length: 7 inches, 9 inches, 12 inches
- Weight: 1.1 pounds (without case)
The Bubba Electric Fillet Knife is a corded filleting knife that can be ideal for cleaning a range of different fish. It comes with four different blades, including two tapered flex blades and two stiff blades for added versatility.
This can be used for both freshwater and saltwater fish, with the larger blades being great for filleting large saltwater fish. But you might find the blades are a little too big for small fish.
All four blades are made from high carbon stainless steel and feature a titanium nitride coating for extra corrosion resistance in saltwater environments. However, remember this fillet knife will need to be plugged into a power source while in use.
The 8-foot cord is ideal for most cleaning stations with a power source. The handle is designed to be comfortable to hold. It has a non-slip grip and an ergonomic trigger with a guard for added safety.
- Corrosion-resistant blades
- Storage case
- Ideal for large fish
- Needs power outlet
4: Bubba 9 Inch Tapered Flex Knife (best for saltwater)
- Blade length: 9 inches
- Weight: 5.9 ounces
The Bubba 9-inch Tapered Flex knife is a tough and durable knife that is designed to stand up to harsh conditions, making it ideal for saltwater anglers.
The curved, full tang 9-inch sharp blade is made from titanium nitride-coated stainless steel and is non-stick for effortless and smooth cutting. However, you might find you need to sharpen it pretty frequently.
A nice feature of this fish knife is the no-slip grip, which is designed to be comfortable to hold and has a trigger grip to give you more control.
This is a good size fillet knife for filleting larger fish but you might want to opt for a smaller blade if you want to fillet small fish.
Another useful feature of this rust-resistant fish knife is that it comes with a sheath with a belt loop, so you can clip it to yourself for easy, hands-free carrying.
- Great for saltwater species
- Sheath included
- Comfortable grip
- Non-stick blade
- Not great for small fish
5: Gerber Gear Controller Saltwater Folding Knife (best folding knife)
- Blade length: 6 inches
- Weight: 5.3 ounces
This Gerber Saltwater Folding Knife can be a convenient fish knife to keep in your fishing gear bag, since it folds up for safe storage and easy carrying.
With a 6-inch stainless steel blade, this can be a good fillet knife for a wide range of fish. It is durable enough to be used in saltwater conditions and small enough for precise cutting of small fish.
But if you plan to cut through extra-large saltwater species, you might want a longer blade.
This has a durable handle, with a HydroTread grip, designed to offer decent traction for wet hands and gloves.
A feature I find useful on this fish knife is the GuideFin on the top. This helps give you more control over the cut, especially with slippery fish, as it provides a spot for your thumb.
- Excellent handle grip
- Folds for safety
- Corrosion resistant
- Might be too small for very large fish
6: Rapala Fish N Fillet Superflex Knife (best budget fillet knife)
- Blade length: 7.5 inches
- Weight: 3 ounces
This Rapala Fish N Fillet is an affordable fillet knife that can be a great addition to your fishing tackle box. It has a Superflex stainless steel blade with a durable non-stick coating for smooth and easy cutting.
The 7.5-inch blade is thin and razor sharp. This is a good fillet knife for cleaning a variety of fish, as it’s a versatile length of blade. However, because of the thinness and flexibility of the blade, it can be better suited to smaller fish than larger ones.
This budget-friendly fillet knife features a hand-rubbed baked birch wood handle, which can be comfortable and warm to hold, especially in the winter. It has a degree of grip on the handle but the traction is not the best if your hands are wet.
Unlike most fillet knives at this price point, this one comes with a quality leather sheath for safety and to keep the blade protected from damage.
- Leather sheath
- Thin blade
- Wooden handle
- Great for filleting small species
- Not the best grip
7: Toadfish Stowaway Fillet System Knife
- Blade length: 7 inches
- Weight: 3.6 pounds (in case)
This Toadfish Stowaway folding fillet knife is a durable and convenient option for taking on fishing trips and camping trips. But it’s a little pricey.
This is not just a filet knife, this is a compact filleting system that comes complete with a folding cutting board. The cutting board conveniently fits inside the protective neoprene sheath along with the filet knife, so you can clean fish easily no matter where you are.
This is a good knife with a sharp stainless steel blade and it even comes with a built-in sharpener on the cutting board so you can keep the blade sharp while you’re on the go. The carbon steel blade is strong and durable, with a titanium coating for added salt resistance.
A great feature of this folding filet knife is the carabiner clip, so you can attach it to your belt loop or gear bag to keep it close to where you need it.
- Folds for safe storage
- Folding cutting board included
- Neoprene case
8: Old Timer Li-Ion Cordless Fish Fillet Knife
- Blade length: 8 inches
- Weight: 1.4 pounds
The Old Timer Cordless Fish Fillet Knife is an affordable electric knife that comes with a mesh carry case for easy storage.
It comes with an 8-inch serrated stainless steel blade for slicing through large fish. The electric knife is cordless and has a runtime of 45 minutes, allowing you to clean and fillet several fish on a single charge.
This is a pretty large knife with a very large handle compared to other electric knives. If you have small hands, you might struggle to control this knife and it could be a stretch to operate the trigger. So it can be better suited to large hands.
It has replaceable blades so you can switch the sharp blade out to suit your filleting needs. Extra blades are sold separately.
- 45-minute battery life
- Mesh carrying case
- Affordable cordless electric knife
- Replaceable blades
- Not great for small hands
9: Gerber Controller 6 Freshwater Fillet Knife
- Blade length: 6 inches
- Weight: 8 ounces
This Gerber Controller is a 6-inch filet knife that’s designed specifically for filleting freshwater fish. This means it can be ideal as a cutting and boning knife for trout and bass. It’s not the best knife for filleting fish that are very large or for saltwater use.
It has a flexible, thin steel blade to let you make precise cuts around bones and gills.
This durable filet knife has a full tang curved blade made from stainless steel for corrosion resistance and strength. It also comes with a molded plastic sheath with vents to prevent water from getting trapped inside.
A handy feature of the sheath is that it has a built-in knife sharpener, so you can keep your blade sharp and ready to slice your next catch. This compact knife is also a good size for kayak fishing.
There are GuideFins on the handle to give you more control over your cut and the HydroTread grip provides good traction in wet environments.
- Made for freshwater fish
- Built-in sharpener
- Excellent grip
- Ideal for kayak fishing
- Not saltwater-friendly
10: Kershaw Clearwater 9-inch Fillet Knife
- Blade length: 9 inches
- Weight: 3.8 ounces
This Kershaw Clearwater fillet knife is a budget-friendly option that can be ideal for cleaning larger or bigger-boned species, such as salmon, tuna, snapper, catfish, as well as larger bass. The long blade may be too big to use on small or delicate fish.
This affordable filet knife features a 9-inch corrosion-resistant steel blade and a textured rubber grip handle.
The grip provides enough traction for controlled cutting with wet hands or while wearing gloves. It can also be a good choice for smaller hands, as it’s easy to control.
But it might not be the most comfortable grip handle if you plan to fillet a lot of fish at once.
This sharp, flexible knife comes with a plastic sheath to keep it safe in your fishing gear box. Or you can clip it to your belt using the attached belt loop on the sheath.
- Great for large fish
- Sheath included
- Saltwater and freshwater-friendly
- Not the most comfortable handle
11: KastKing Folding Fishing Knife
- Blade length: 6.5 inches
- Weight: 8 ounces
The KastKing Folding Fillet Knife can make a great addition to your tackle box. Made specifically for anglers, this folds to a compact size of just 7.5 inches, making it one of the best fillet knives in terms of portability.
This compact filet knife can be perfect for kayak fishing and camping trips. And it also comes with a sheath for added convenience.
It features a sharp 6.5-inch blade with a corrosion-resistant coating and a non-stick finish for smooth cutting and easy cleaning.
The glass-reinforced polypropylene handle features a slip-proof rubber grip that’s designed to be comfortable to hold, with enough traction for safety and control.
This can be great for filleting freshwater fish and some smaller saltwater species. But it might not be sufficient for large fish.
- Folds for easy storage
- Ideal for camping and kayak fishing
- Great size for freshwater species
- Non-slip rubber handle
- Not for large catches
Fillet Knife Buyers Guide And Features
What Is A Fillet Knife
A fillet knife, or filet knife, is specifically designed for filleting fish. Unlike your average quality knife in your kitchen, fillet knives have a long, flexible blade.
The thin blade tends to be curved to a sharp point at the tip to allow you to make precise cuts and remove small bones. The knife is designed so you can change the angle of the cut while maintaining the integrity of the meat.
Filet knives are engineered to cut into the body of a fish and maneuver easily around bones without damaging the meat. Other knives are often too stiff or thick to make the same cuts.
The flexibility of the blade in most filet knives also allows you to remove the skin of a fish without removing or wasting the meat.
Knife Size Matters
When you’re filleting fish, you’ll quickly realize that the size of the knife and length of the blade can be the difference between an easy job and a difficult one.
Larger knives with longer blades can be better for bigger fish, such as large saltwater fish. Smaller knives with shorter, thinner blades can be more suitable for smaller fish.
Narrower blades can also be more useful for filleting small and delicate fish, allowing for more precision cutting.
Blades that are a medium length, usually around the 7-inches mark, can be useful if you’re looking for versatility, as this length of knife can often be used on a variety of species of fish. It can also be a good length to fillet popular catches such as trout and bass.
Electric Knife Or Standard?
Electric fillet knives can make quick work of filleting multiple fish. But whether an electric fillet knife will be better for you will depend on what you’re looking for in a knife, and whether you’ll have access to a power source while you’re filleting the fish.
Electric fillet knives can be found in both corded and cordless versions. The corded versions obviously need to be plugged into a power source while in use, unlike traditional fillet knives.
A cordless electric fillet knife is powered by a battery, which can be more convenient for using at a campground (just remember to charge it first).
Another benefit of using an electric fillet knife is that you can usually switch the blades easily. This means you can use the one tool to fillet a variety of types or sizes of fish and simply switch blades to the most appropriate size for each particular fish.
Traditional fillet knives can be more convenient for using off the grid, as they don’t require charging since they rely on your muscle power. You might find you have more control over the blade when making intricate cuts using a traditional fillet knife than an electric one.
Type Of Grip
The handle can be an important feature of a filleting knife. The handle should be comfortable enough for you to hold a fillet knife for a decent length of time while you fillet your fish.
A comfortable handle with a non-slip grip will also give you more control over the cut, such as the pressure and angle.
Fillet knives can be found with various materials on the handles, including wood, plastic, and rubber. The best material for one angler won’t necessarily be the best for another, as it’s often a case of personal preference.
Remember, if you’ll be wearing gloves while filleting fish, make sure you have a firm grip of the knife before you start making any cuts.
Flexible Knife Blade
Video: How To Fillet A Fish
A flexible blade is one of the key features of a fillet knife. The flexibility of the blade is essentially what allows you to make precise cuts around the bones of the fish to create the perfect fillet without damaging the meat.
Many filleting knives will have a long, narrow blade with a razor sharp edge. Along with the blade being flexible, the sharp edge helps you to easily maneuver the knife around the backbone, as well as removing scales and small bones.
Most of the best fillet knives have stainless steel blades for strength and durability. Stainless steel tends to have a high resistance to corrosion, which can make it suitable for use around water.
You’ll also find some blades on fish knives that have an additional coating, such as titanium, for added corrosion-resistance.
Fish Fillet Knife FAQs
What Size Of Fillet Knife Do I Need?
Filleting knives with shorter blades can be better suited to filleting smaller or more delicate fish. Thinner and more flexible blades can also make it easier to cut around the delicate meat of small freshwater fish.
Larger fish will require a longer blade. If the meat is tougher or the bones are bigger, you should opt for a less flexible blade so that the knife has the power to cut through the flesh without flexing too much.
How Do I Sharpen A Filet Knife?
Fish fillet knives can be sharpened with a knife sharpener or sharpening stone. Fillet knives need to be kept sharp at the tip, so remember to sharpen all the way to the tip of the blade.
Video: How To Sharpen A Fillet Knife
Can You Wash Fillet Knives In A Dishwasher?
The best fillet knives are generally not dishwasher-safe. While you can put some fillet knives in the dishwasher, it can be better to hand wash them.
Dishwashers can damage the handles over time and can cause blades to go dull or blunt.
Can You Fillet Fish With A Pocket Knife Or Kitchen Knife?
Fillet knives have thin, flexible blades that are designed to make precise cuts in delicate fish meat. Using a kitchen knife or pocket knife to filet fish could damage the meat as these knives generally won’t be as flexible to cut around the bones.
Is There A Difference Between A Boning Knife And A Fillet Knife?
On a boning knife, the blade is straight from the handle to the tip. Fillet knives curve a little toward the tip.
A boning knife is generally used for removing bones from meat. Fillet knives, on the other hand, are used for removing bones and skin, mostly from fish.
Conclusion: Cleaning Up
Now that you’ve seen the roundup of the best fillet knives on the market, the top pick is the Wusthof Classic Ikon 7-inch fillet knife. This is an extra-sharp, flexible knife that can make filleting fish quick and easy, whether you’re in your kitchen or on the riverbank.
Another great fillet knife if you’d prefer an electric option, is the Rapala R12. This cordless fillet knife lasts a long time on a single charge, giving you plenty of time to fillet your catch limit.
However, if you fish in saltwater and want one of the best fillet knives for the job, the Bubba 9-inch Tapered Flex filet knife can be a good one for the gear bag. It can handle big fish and tough skin, while being easy to control and comfortable to hold.
Remember to think about the types and sizes of fish you plan to catch. And if you’re looking for versatility in your filet knives, it can be best to stick to medium-sized blades around 7 inches in length.