Fishing is one of the best and most relaxing pastimes that a person can do. While many fishermen and women enjoy this activity for the sport alone, there are likely even more that enjoy partaking in the fruits of their labor. If you’ve ever had the job of filleting and cooking up a fish for dinner, you know how important it is to have a razor-sharp fillet knife.
If you’re thinking about getting into filleting fish or need to upgrade your current tools, this article will look at the best fillet knives on the market. We’ll also look at how to choose the best fillet knife for your needs.
How to Choose the Best Fillet Knife
Before you purchase the best fillet knife for your needs, you first have to determine what’s important to you. There are four basic requirements it takes for a fillet knife to be a great one. Let’s look at those three things now.
Sharpness and Blade Retention
Fish are scaly, bony, and thick-skinned little creatures. Navigating around bone and flesh takes a great deal of precision and an extremely sharp blade. The last thing you want is to have to be digging into the fish or apply excess pressure to your cuts. The best fillet knife will be able to slice through fish like butter and maneuver around the dozens of tiny bones inside of the fish.
Contrary to what people think, a dull blade is more dangerous than a sharp one. Finding a knife for yourself that retains its edge and sharpness is imperative so that you’re not wasting time resharpening your knife after every use.
Material and Construction
The quality of the blade and the knife, in general, will come down to the type of material used. High-quality stainless steel is imperative for a solid blade, and rust-resistant and grippy material is necessary for the handle. Your fillet knife will be around water and moisture regularly, so it’s essential that you choose a rust-resistant and waterproof knife.
The handle and the blade are of equal importance. You should always test out the grip and feel of a fillet knife before purchasing one. Everyone has different hands and preferences, and fillet knives aren’t one size fits all. You should feel comfortable and confident with the best fillet knife in your hand for the best results.
Length of the Blade
The length of the blade is something that often gets overlooked. As a general rule, you want a knife blade about half the size of the fish you’re planning on filleting. Because there’s no way to guarantee exactly what you’re going to catch, a happy medium for blade length is around seven or eight inches.
Anything shorter, and you’ll have difficulty filleting larger fish. Conversely, if you have a 10″ fillet blade and you catch a 6″ bluegill, you’ll have just as much trouble filleting it.
As with most things in life, your budget will play a significant role in your final decision for the best fillet knife for you. If you’re a serious fisherman or do lots of cooking, you need to invest in more than just a fillet knife. While it’s essential to choose one that’s high-quality and to your liking, it’s also vital that you don’t blow your entire budget on a single item. Purchasing the best fillet knife for you won’t necessarily be cheap, but it shouldn’t break the bank.
Overall Best Fillet Knife
1. Wusthof Classic Ikon Fillet Knife
No matter what “best fillet knife” list you look at, the Wusthof Classic Ikon Fillet Knife will likely take the first or second spot on the list. The Wusthoff Classic checks every box required to be the best fillet knife. Its only potential fault is that it’s a professional-grade knife, which means that it fetches a hefty price tag. However, if you have room in your budget, you can’t do much better than the Wusthof.
The blade is made of carbon forged stainless steel, and it’s designed with just the right amount of flexibility to navigate around bones. The blade is also sturdy enough to handle nearly all types of fish, regardless of size or toughness. The Wusthof also features a full tang construction and special riveting on the handle for extra accuracy and control.
It has a 7″ blade that’s slightly curved for increased accuracy. The handle is made from durable polyoxyethylene, that’s fade-resistant and doesn’t discolor. The contoured handle improves comfort and control for precise cutting. Add in the protective and safe leather sheath that comes with each knife, and you’ve got a serious product on your hands.
- Flexible handle that fits most hands like a glove
- The leather sheath is both protective and stylish
- The blade is razor-sharp and retains its edge
- Very durable blade and handle
- Slightly pricey at right around $170
- It doesn’t fold, which means the full 11″ length is slightly bulky
Best Fillet Knife on a Budget
2. KastKing 5″ Fillet Knife
Unfortunately, not everyone has a couple of hundred bucks to spend on their best fillet knife. Not everyone requires one either, as is the case for those who only prepare fish occasionally. If you fall into this boat and want to invest in a decent fillet knife for occasional use, the KastKing 5″ Fillet Knife is the one for you.
KastKing makes many quality fishing products, and this fillet knife is one of them. The blade is made of German stainless steel with a black coating that makes it rust-proof and helps it retain its sharpness. The 6″ blade features a gradual curve with a thin, flexible edge perfect for cutting in or around bones. The back of the blade is serrated in case heavy sawing is necessary.
This knife also has a 5.8″ slip-resistant handle uniquely designed to fit perfectly into most hands. Throw in the protective sheath that accompanies each KastKing knife, and you have a safe, quality product at the low price of $25. They also have a folding knife option for a similar price and quality.
- Considered one of the best bang-for-your-buck fillet knife
- Very sharp blade of quality stainless steel that retains its sharpness
- The handle is slip-resistant and contours nicely to the hand
- Naturally, a $20 knife isn’t going to be as good or last as long as a $200 one, but it’s hard to beat the quality for the price.
Best Fillet Knife for Heavy-Duty Cutting
3. Bubba Blade Stiffie
If you’re planning on catching large fish and filleting them on-site, the Bubba Blade Stiffie is the knife for you. This sucker means business, and it’s often thought of as the Rambo or Terminator of fillet knives. There’s no messing around when you have the Bubba Stiffie in your hands, and it’s meant exclusively for larger fish or even field game such as deer.
The Bubba features a 9″ blade that’s thicker and stronger than many of its counterparts. As such, it lacks flexibility, which doesn’t make it ideal for smaller fish. However, for tuna, salmon, and larger fish, this is a clear contender for best fillet knife. The blade is made of stainless steel, and it’s surprisingly sharp for how big and thick it is.
This best fillet knife’s handle has a trigger grip and is made of slip-resistant material, making it perfect for use on a boat or dock. Consider purchasing the Bubba Tapered Flex Fillet Knife if you’re looking for something with a little more finesse and agility. The blade is the same length, but it’s slightly thinner and more agile, making it more suitable for smaller fish.
- The blade is super strong and rugged, perfect for larger fish
- The handle style and grip are slip-resistant and comfortable
- While the edge is slightly thicker than most, it’s razor-sharp
- You can also use it to dress deer or larger field game
- A lack of blade flex makes it impractical for filleting smaller fish
Best Electric Fillet Knife
4. Bubba Electric Fillet Knife Corded
Manual fillet knives are great for precision and finesse, but if you’re planning to fillet lots of fish in a single sitting, your hand is likely to fatigue. For that reason, fillet knife manufacturers have developed high-quality electric fillet knives for large or heavy-duty jobs. The Bubba Electric Fillet Knife is one of the best.
This electric fillet knife has more power and endurance than a battery-operated knife or a manual one. You can fillet fish with this bad boy for as long as necessary without getting tired or fatigued. The Bubba Corded has four different blade options ranging from thin and agile to thick and strong or even serrated for sawing through bone.
The knife is trigger-activated, and there is a trigger guard and added safety features that make this knife safe to operate. The handle is ergonomic in design and slip-resistant for added comfort and safety. If you’re in the market for a battery-operated best fillet knife rather than a corded one, check out the Bubba Li-Ion Cordless Fillet Knife. It, too, comes with four blades and guaranteed quality.
- The grippy handle makes it safe and easy to use
- Trigger activation makes for increased safety and precision
- It comes with four different blades that are high-quality
- Includes a storage case to keep the extra blades inside
- Electric or battery power adds strength and durability to the filleting process
- Electric or battery knives are typically less precise than manual ones
Best Compact Fillet Knife
5. Toadfish Stowaway Folding Fillet Knife
If you’re tight on space or want the best fillet knife that you can carry easily in your pocket or tackle box, you should consider a folding fillet knife. The Toadfish Stowaway Folding Fillet Knife is just as sharp and durable as many of its fixed-blade counterparts. This knife is 7″ long at folded length and is uniquely designed so that the blade is of an identical length.
The blade is made of tough and rust-resistant stainless steel, designed to withstand the harshest and saltiest of conditions. The handle on this bad boy is contoured perfectly and coated with rubber to make it slip-resistant. The bottom of the handle has a built-in clip that makes this knife convenient for pocket carrying or slipping onto a tackles box or backpack.
Because it’s a folding knife, the Toadfish Stowaway is only partial tang and not quite as strong as its full-tang counterparts. However, in terms of storability, durability, and cutting abilities, this best fillet knife can stand up against most competitors.
- At only 7″ long, this knife is easy to carry in your pocket or tacklebox
- The 7″ blade is long and robust enough to handle most cutting jobs
- The rubber handle is grippy and contoured nicely for comfort
- It’s only partial tang which makes it more prone to breaking than other knives.
- While the blade is strong, it isn’t overly flexible and is not the best option for smaller fish.
Other Contenders for Best Fillet Knife
6. DALSTRONG Gladiator Series Fillet and Boning Knife
The DALSTRONG Gladiator Series Fillet and Boning Knife only makes honorable mention on our list, but it takes the top spot among some. This German-style fillet knife is sharp, durable, flexible, and can do almost any job. Thanks to its gently curving blade and stylishly contoured handle, it’s also very eye-catching.
This knife has a series of pillows along the blade’s edge and just the right angle to keep the blade sharp and friction-free when cutting into tough meat. The fact that the blade is made of top-notch carbon steel also helps prevent friction and dulling.
It’s also heavy-duty enough to handle fish of most sizes, including giant tuna.
This knife also receives a Rockwell hardness rating of 55, which means that the blade is hard enough to cut through flesh and bone without being so brittle that it will break under heavy pressure. Additionally, the knife is full-tang, which means there aren’t any weak points with the handle or the blade. Simply put, there isn’t much that this knife can’t do.
- The craftsmanship and construction of this knife are second to none
- Razor-sharp and high-quality blade that can cut through most fish
- The blade is made of high carbon German steel and curved perfectly
- It comes with a protective sheath
- The blade is slightly rigid and has difficulty handling more delicate cuts on small fish.
Wrapping Up the Best Fillet Knife
An excellent fillet knife is crucial whether you’re a full-time chef or enjoy the occasional weekend of catching and preparing fish. You’re more prone to hurt yourself or mess up the filleting process if you have a dull or low-quality knife and blade. The best way to safely and quickly prepare a fish is to choose the best fillet knife for your needs.
It’s also handy to have a quality knife sharpener nearby so you can hone the blade a bit when needed. Check out this list of the 10 Best Pocket Knife Sharpeners for Survivalists. These are good for sharpening any knife – they’re just pocket-sized themselves so you can conveniently take them camping with you. Happy sharpening!