Best Fillet Knife For Cleaning Fish – 2021 Buyer’s Guide
If you plan to hold onto the fish you catch, then having a good fillet knife can be essential; sometimes a chef's knife just doesn't cut it (terrible joke!).
But what should you look for in a filleting knife? How do you know which one is suited to your needs? Are electric knives any good?
We have put together what we think is the ultimate buying guide to help you choose the best fillet knife for dressing your prize catch.
Top Fillet Knives: At a Glance
(the links above take you to Amazon)
"Crocodile" Dundee knows his knives. We think we do too!
So, here's our list of top-rated fillet knives...
Best Fillet Knives Reviewed
1: Wusthof Classic Ikon 7 Inch Fillet Knife (best fish fillet knife overall)
This Wusthof Classic Ikon knife features a thin, flexible 7 inch blade that is slightly curved and made out of high carbon stainless steel for increased precision cutting and durability. This full tang knife benefits from triple riveting on the handle which can help to improve your control over the blade and can result in more accurate cutting.
The handle is made from a durable polyoxymethylene which is designed to be resistant to discoloration and fading. It is also designed to be comfortable to hold with a contoured handle for improved cutting precision and reduced fatigue.
This high quality knife comes with a durable leather sheath that protects the blade and provides added safety while you’re on the water. It also has a partial bolster which can allow you to sharpen the whole blade.
2: Bubba 9 Inch Tapered Flex Fillet Knife
The Bubba Tapered Flex Fillet Knife features a 9 inch blade that benefits from having a strong titanium-nitride coating for added rust resistance. The long, thin blade has a super sharp tip and is flexible to allow for precise cutting and maneuvering along fish bones.
Being 9 inches long, it can be ideal for use on larger fish and can be suitable for saltwater fishing because of its corrosion resistant stainless steel blade.
The handle is designed with a non-slip grip and a trigger grip point to give you maximum control over your cutting. The knife also features a non-stick coating on the blade so that you can slice through the meat of the fish more easily and quickly.
This knife comes with a synthetic protective sheath and benefits from having a lanyard hole in the handle.
3: Dexter Russell P94813 Narrow Fillet Knife
This Dexter Narrow Fillet Knife is designed to combine quality with affordability. It features an 8 inch high carbon steel blade that is flexible for filleting and deboning fish.
The hollow ground blade is crafted to be easy to sharpen and maintain, so that it’s always ready for slicing your next catch.
The handle is made from polypropylene and it has a non-slip grip for safety and improved control. You may find this knife is more suitable for filleting larger fish, with the 8 inch blade possibly being too long for the precise filleting of smaller pan fish.
This lightweight knife does not come with a sheath.
4: KastKing 9 Inch Fillet Knife
This KastKing Fillet Knife features a strong 9 inch German stainless steel blade that is engineered to be razor sharp and flexible for precise cutting. The knife is crafted for filleting fish and deboning meat and has a non-slip grip for control.
The long, thin blade can be better suited to filleting larger fish or tougher meat and may not be the best choice if you’re looking for a knife for smaller freshwater fish.
The KastKing knife is built for the outdoors and comes with a durable, lightweight sheath that has open slots to allow water to drain through. The sheath is also designed to lock in place for increased safety when the knife is stowed.
5: Bubba 110V Electric Fillet Knife
The Bubba 110V Electric Fillet Knife can be a good option if you’re looking to fillet a range of different species, as it comes with four separate blades. The 7 inch and 9 inch flexible blades can be ideal for filleting small to medium fish and the 9 inch and 12 inch stiff blades can be better suited to filleting larger fish.
All of the blades have serrated edges and are made from durable stainless steel with a titanium-nitride coating for improved corrosion resistance.
The knife is designed to operate quietly and features an 8 foot power cord. It is also built to allow ventilation to prevent the handle from overheating.
The handle is grippy and benefits from having a safety lock and a trigger guard to protect yourself.
This electric fishing fillet knife also comes with a carry case for easier storage.
6: Rapala Electric Fillet Knife
The Rapala Electric Fillet Knife features a 7 and a half inch serrated stainless steel reciprocating blade that can be a great tool for filleting a range of medium sized fish, such as bass, walleye and perch with speed and precision.
This electric knife also comes with a handy stainless steel fillet fork so that you can hold your catch more easily while you make that important cut.
It has a quiet motor that is designed with increased ventilation to keep the handle from overheating, so that you can continue filleting for longer. The knife includes a 7 foot power cord to let you move around your filleting table easily.
7: Morakniv Fishing Comfort
The whole knife measures 10.6 inches long and features a 6.1 inch stainless steel blade, but is also available in a smaller 3.5 inch blade length.
It comes with a tough plastic sheath for added protection when on the move and when storing, and even has a belt clip and belt loop for convenience while you’re fishing.
The 0.07 inch thick knife blade is resistant to corrosion and durable. With a high friction handle, it should be easy to maintain your grip and benefits from being non-odor absorbing.
This knife is designed to be used on most sizes of fish, so it can be a good one to have if you plan to catch several different species. However, for smaller species, you might find the smaller 3.5 inch option a better fit. This knife can also be put in the dishwasher.
8: Rapala Fish n Fillet Superflex
This Superflex knife from Rapala features a 6 inch handground stainless steel blade, but also comes in two other blade lengths, 4 inches and 7.5 inches.
The blade is thin and extra flexible, designed to allow you to cut smoothly and with control. It also benefits from having a non-stick coating, to make slicing fish easier. The handle is crafted from hand rubbed baked birch wood, with a comfortable grip.
For protection when the knife’s not in use, there’s a genuine leather sheath that also has a belt loop so you can attach it to yourself and always have it at hand.
9: Kershaw Fillet Knife with Sheath
This durable knife has a 7 inch blade, crafted in corrosion resistant Japanese stainless steel, so can be a good choice for both saltwater and freshwater fishing. This Kershaw knife is also available in a larger 9 inch blade length, for larger filleting.
To protect the razor sharp blade, there is a black plastic sheath that has a belt holster so you can keep it handy. The handle is crafted from a textured co-polymer soft rubber that is designed to be comfortable to hold, as well as being non-slip.
The flexible blade can be ideal for filleting a range of medium sized fish, including catfish and salmon, either in the kitchen or on the water. The handle is also contoured to minimize fatigue.
10: Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Four Star 7-Inch
This strong and durable fish fillet knife features a high carbon stainless steel blade, measuring 7 inches long. The sharp blade benefits from extra strength due the ice hardening technique used in the craftsmanship and it is also corrosion resistant.
This knife could be a good size for filleting medium sized fish, as it is strong but flexible. The polypropylene handle is designed to be comfortable to grip, as well as sturdy.
With this knife you will need to purchase a sheath separately, as it does not come included with the knife. But for added convenience, the knife is dishwasher safe.
11: American Angler PRO Professional Grade Electric Fillet Knife
Now this one could make things easier and quicker for you, as it’s an electric filleting knife that comes with an 8 inch curved stainless steel blade. It packs 110 volts of power and has an 8 foot polarized power cord.
With a built-in cooling fan and added venting, you should be able to cut for longer without it overheating. A good thing about this knife is that you can change the blades, which might be handy if you plan to catch different types of fish. This one is compatible with all American Angler blades.
The handle is ergonomically designed so that it’s comfortable to hold, allowing you to control the blade more easily.
12: Shun DM0743 Classic Gokujo Boning and Fillet
This is a Japanese Gokujo knife that has a razor sharp 6 inch stainless steel blade, which could be ideal for filleting smaller fish. The Japanese steel-made blade features 33 layers of stainless steel, giving it extra resistance against rust and corrosion.
The handle is approximately 5 inches long and crafted from Pakkawood, made from a resin boosted hardwood. It is a super sharp knife that is designed to cut cleanly through fish and bones.
However, this fillet knife does not come with a protective sheath, so would need to be securely stored when you’re not using it.
The curved blade can also be ideal for filleting other types of meat, such as beef or pork, in addition to fish.
13: Wusthof Pro 9-inch Fish Fillet
This knife from Wusthof features a thin and flexible 9 inch blade. The sharp blade is crafted from a high carbon stainless steel and the knife is manufactured from just one piece of steel.
The knife is thin and flexible, designed to make removing fish bones a lot easier. With an ergonomically engineered handle, it’s comfortable to hold while you make those precision cuts and the synthetic handle benefits from being slip resistant, giving you a stronger grip.
You might want to consider how you will transport and store this one, as it doesn’t have a sheath, which may make it more difficult if you’re taking it out on the water.
14: Rapala Heavy Duty Electric Fillet Knife
This is an electric fillet knife from Rapala that features 7 and a half inch reciprocating blades, so you could be getting twice the blade power on one slice. The 8 foot power cord is long enough for most uses and it has 110 volts of power.
The ergonomically designed handle is comfortable to hold while you make those cuts and slices and the vibration is reduced with the design that improves air flow and keeps the motor cool.
The sharp blades are designed to cut through medium and even some larger fish. This one doesn’t come with a case, so you would need to purchase one separately.
15: Rapala 4" Fish 'N Fillet Knife (best value)
This is a more compact fishing fillet knife that can be a good choice for using on smaller fish, as it might give you more precision. The Rapala knife features a 4 inch European stainless steel blade and a birch wood handle.
The handle is designed to be comfortable to hold, and with over 40 million of these knives sold worldwide, it seems it’s also popular to use. The knife comes with a genuine leather Laplander sheath that has a belt loop built in.
This knife also comes with a handy single stage sharpener so you can keep your blade sharp and ready for the next fish you catch.
16: Buck Knives 220 Silver Creek Folding Fillet Fishing Knife
This knife could be a great choice if you’re short on space in your tackle box and want to keep it handy. It features a 6 and a half inch titanium coated blade that is durable and corrosion resistant, as well as being razor sharp.
The convenient thing about this knife is that it can fold up so that it measures just 7 and a quarter inches when closed, and can then be attached to you or your gear using the built-in lanyard.
The handle has a grooved rubber coating, which gives it its anti-slip design and there’s also a stainless steel safety guard, making it safer to use.
17: Wusthof Gourmet 7-inch Fish Fillet Knife
This filleting knife features a 7 inch high carbon German stainless steel blade, which is laser cut, light and flexible but also strong and durable. The overall length of the knife is 11 inches and it comes with a protective leather sheath that has a handy built-in belt loop.
The black riveted handle gives the knife a traditional cutlery look, as well as comfort and strength for slicing and removing bones from fish, so it can be used both in the kitchen and on the shores of the lake.
The thin blade can be great for filleting and deboning a variety of fish, including salmon and other medium sized fish.
Fillet Knife Buyers Guide And Features
Before you go out and buy a new fillet knife there are a few things that you should consider.
What Is A Fish Fillet Knife?
A fish fillet knife is basically just as it sounds: it’s specifically built to let you fillet a fish. This means it is designed to separate the meat of the fish from the bone, creating (for the most part) boneless fillets that can be easily cooked and eaten.
Because fish tends to be more delicate than other types of meat, the knives are often designed with long blades that are thin and flexible, and have a sharp edge. This is generally to allow you to make more precise cuts around the smaller bones that found in fish
The blades tend to have a sharp, thin tip to let you cut into the fish. The flexibility in the sharp blade means you can move the blade more easily around the body of the fish during the cut. The added flexibility also means you can remove skin more easily without wasting any of the meat.
Stiffer kitchen knives generally wouldn’t let you maneuver around fish bones as smoothly and could result in you ruining the quality and cut of the meat.
Filleting knives can also be ideal for removing small bones and scales from fish.
The blade on a fillet knife is probably the most important part of it, as this will determine the type of cut you will be able to make and how clean the cut will be.
For fish fillet knifes, you should make sure the blade you’re choosing is corrosion resistant, as being in wet environments - particularly salt water - can affect the performance of the blade.
A stainless steel blade can be a good choice and they are quite common on fish fillet knives and are usually resistant to corrosion.
Handle Comfort and Grip
When you’re using your fillet knife, having one with a comfortable grip and handle can make the process of slicing and dicing a lot easier and quicker.
Particularly when you’re out fishing, you might often be using the knife with wet hands, which means a non-slip grip may be essential for you. If you’re wearing gloves you should also make sure that you have a strong grip on the handle before you start cutting.
Knives comes with a range of different handle materials, from traditional wood to rubber or plastic. You may find it’s a matter of personal preference which handle material you choose. Just make sure that it’s comfortable for you to hold while you’re cutting and consider your slicing conditions.
Video: How To Fillet A Fish
You may not think size is important when it comes to choosing a knife; just as long as it’s sharp, right? Well, actually, choosing the correct size of knife and blade can play an important role in determining how easy it is to cut and fillet a particular fish. And it all basically comes down the type of fish you plan on catching.
Blades come in various lengths, with each length suited for a particular type and size of fish. Not surprisingly, the shorter blades are more beneficial for using on smaller fish, such as crappie, or where you require more precision cutting.
With trout or bass, you may find it better to use a medium sized blade, roughly around 7 to 7 and a half inches.
The larger sized blades are often better suited to larger fish, so keep that in mind when you’re choosing yours. Also, you should consider the size of the knife when you think about your storage or transportation options. If you’re short on space, a folding knife might be a good option.
As well as the size of the blade you will also want to consider its strength to make sure it’s able to do the job that you want it to do. Fillet knives come in a variety of blade thickness levels.
This means the thinner the blade you choose, the more flexible it should be. A flexible knife can be handy for using on smaller fish and for removing bones, but may not be as good at slicing larger fish as there may be less strength in the blade and too much flexibility.
Electric Fillet Knives
It’s also possible to fillet fish with an electric knife, which could come in handy if you’re trying to fillet a lot of fish after a successful fishing trip, as it can be quicker.
Many electric knives will also let you change the blades, so you should be able to use specific blades for different cutting purposes. This can be a good idea if you fish in different areas and catch a variety of different species of fish and therefore need several knives.
What Size Fillet Knife Do I Need?
This will mostly depend on the size of the fish you plan to fillet. The smaller the fish, the smaller the blade you’re likely to need. Smaller blades can allow you to cut at more delicate angles.
However, if you’re looking for more of a one size fits all, a medium-sized blade of around 7 inches can be a good choice.
How Do I Sharpen The Knife?
Because the tip of your fillet knife is pretty important, you need to remember to sharpen it too.
So unlike sharpening other types of knives, it can be useful to sharpen it in the opposite direction, with the tip hitting the stone first, before the rest of the blade.
How Do I Use The Knife?
In order to give a proper description, a whole article might be required. It can be useful to slope the blade sideways as you cut, allowing the blade to cut along the spine.
The flexibility of the knife should let you maintain an angle with the blade to get a precise cut.
Can I Wash The Knife In A Dishwasher?
Yes, however, this can damage the blade and handle over time and can cause your blade to go blunt.
Can I Just Use A Pocket Knife Or Kitchen Knife To Clean A Fish?
Fish filleting knives are designed with the delicate meat of a fish in mind. Other types of knives are not, which means a kitchen knife or pocket knife may not be able to cut as precisely as a fillet knife.
These types of knives will also generally not be as flexible so you may not get the desired results if you use a kitchen knife or pocket knife.
What's The Difference Between A Fillet Knife And A Boning Knife?
Firstly fillet knife blades curve slightly and boning knife blade is straight.
Boning knives are used for boning meat. Whereas fillet knives are commonly used for removing bones AND skin (mainly fish).
Fillet knives are slightly thinner and are slightly more flexible.
How To Fillet A Fish With An Electric Knife
Rather than using your hand power to do the cutting, the electric knife is generally providing the power and doing the work for you.
Slice into the fish just behind the gills, as you would with a non-electric knife. Let the knife cut through until you hit the spine bone and then turn the blade of your knife sideways to slice along the bone.
Conclusion: Cleaning Up
Now that you’ve read about the various different fish fillet knives that are out there, you should have a better understanding of your own needs. If you know where you plan to fish and the particular species that you plan to catch then you should be able to narrow down your knife options.
The best fish fillet knife, in our opinion, is the Wusthof Classic Ikon.
If you’re unsure, perhaps an electric knife might be the way to go. We like this one from Bubba. As long as you consider how you plan to power it while you’re beside the water.
However, a medium sized knife may also be the most versatile if you’re planning on fishing in lakes and rivers and catching medium sized fish.
Hopefully you have enjoyed learning about the different knives and if you want to help your fellow fishers out, don’t be afraid to share this with them. And if you have any comments or questions, please get in touch.