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Articles » Gear Reviews » Accessories » 10 Best Fillet Knives for Cleaning Fish

10 Best Fillet Knives for Cleaning Fish

Have you ever tried cutting into a fish with a Swiss Army knife? It’s not a pretty picture, is it?

Why would you do that to a beautiful piece of fish you spent hours reeling in? This is where a fish fillet knife will prove invaluable. Not only can the sharp blade slice through meat and bones like butter, but it is also compact enough to fit in your kit. 

There are several great filleting knives in the market that you can try. We have narrowed down the ten we think are the great of the lot along with their pros and cons. 

Top Fillet Knives

ImageProductDetails
sample-table__imageBest Fillet KnifeShun Cutlery Classic
  • Damascus-Clad Blade
  • Razor-Sharp
  • Effortless
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sample-table__imageBest Electric Fillet KnifeAmerican Angler PRO Electric
  • 2x Torque
  • Solid Drive Train
  • Comfortable
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sample-table__imageEditor's ChoiceGerber Controller Saltwater Fillet Knife
  • 9Cr18MoV Steel
  • Great Handle
  • Saltwater-Ready
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sample-table__imageZwilling J.A. Henckels
  • German Made
  • No Stain Steel
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sample-table__imageWusthof Pro
  • High-Carbon Steel
  • Stain-Free Blade
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sample-table__imageRapala Heavy-Duty Electric
  • Affordable Price
  • Brand Name
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sample-table__imageDexter-Russell SG133-8
  • Solid Fillet Knife
  • Chef-Recommended
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sample-table__imageMorakniv Fishing Comfort
  • 6.1 Inch Blade
  • Sandvik Stainless Steel
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sample-table__imageRapala Fish ‘N Fillet Knife with Sheath
  • Beautiful Knife
  • Leather Sheath
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sample-table__imageKershaw Clearwater
  • Budget Option
  • Made in USA
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10 Best Fillet Knives for 2020 Reviewed

1. Shun Cutlery Classic 

Best Fillet Knife

Shun Cutlery Classic Boning and Fillet Knife; 6-inch High-Performance, Double-Bevel Steel Blade; Luxurious, Hand-Crafted Japanese Knife Provides Flawless Aesthetic and Close, Controlled Cut or Fillet
  • Damascus-clad blade offers close, easy cutting; narrow blade...
  • Easily fillet fish using razor-sharp blade; smoothly glide...
  • Precise knife slices effortlessly to separate meat from...

The word ‘shun’ is a Japanese term that is used to describe local and seasonal food when it is at the peak of fresh flavor. This classic boning and fillet knife was handcrafted to maintain this ancient tradition, and it lives up to the hype.

The super sharp 6-inch blade is just narrow enough to glide through the body of a fish for smooth skin and bone removal, and the D-shaped handle provides a sturdy grip for excellent control.

The knife was a bit stiffer than we are used to, and the tip of the blade is a bit too thin to handle tough butchering challenges smoothly.

However, when put to the test, this knife passed with flying colors not only for deboning fish but also for deboning poultry and other meats. The blade also maintains its sharp edge for a long time when it is in use. 


2. American Angler PRO Electric 

Best Electric Fillet Knife

American Angler PRO Electric Fillet Knife, Stainless Steel
  • Fillet with ease: The Pro Series motor boasts 2x more torque...
  • Fillet Season after Season: superior drive train components...
  • Fillet comfortably: advanced airflow design keeps the Pro...

If you love to catch and fillet large and robust species such as redfin, grouper, or muskie, you need a sturdy blade to make beautiful fillets. This is where the American Angler PRO Electric Fillet Knife works wonders. This electric fish knife can cut through the most robust bones and can separate skin and scale from fillets effortlessly, whether you are cutting through a tough, scaly fish or a soft boned one. 

The trigger switch could be more sensitive and can lose some efficiency of you use the knife frequently. Since the switch isn’t smooth, the blade can sometimes remain on, which can prove dangerous.

However, bar this small issue, this electric knife used for filleting fish offers an impressive 100 volts of power for fast and smooth filleting. It is also quite easy to twist and turn despite its handle design. 

Check out our full Electric Fish Fillet Knife Guide.


3. Gerber Controller Saltwater Fillet Knife

Gerber Controller 10 in. Saltwater Fish Fillet Knife
  • Optimized to withstand harsh saltwater environments with...
  • Full tang 9Cr18MoV steel blade was specifically selected for...
  • HydroTread Grip is applied strategically in raised sections...

The next knife on the list is the Gerber Controller 10 inch knife, which boasts an incredibly thin blade that gives you just enough flexibility to slice through tough meat. It’s been optimized for use in saltwater with a corrosion-resistant layer covering the steel.

They use a full tang 9Cr18MoV steel blade so you know it’ll last a while. In other words, you won’t have to work too hard to fillet fish or different types of meat when you have this blade on hand.

This is the best fish filleting knife you can get within its price range.

Best of all it comes with a built-in sharpener that allows for blade touch-ups whenever you find that the knife isn’t cutting like butter. That’s super handy especially when you’re on the boat!

Check out our full Fillet Knife for Saltwater Fish Guide


4. Zwilling J.A. Henckels 

Zwilling J.A. Henckels Zwilling J.A Fillet Knife, 7 Inch, Black
  • Manufactured in Germany
  • Special formula high carbon NO STAIN steel
  • SIGMAFORGE knife is forged from a single piece of solid...

Manufactured in Germany, the Zwilling J.A. Henckels boasts German steel making it one of the best fish filleting knives you can get in the market. The 7-inch long flexible blade is honed to perfection, and it boasts a slight curve near the bolster. Hardened by the brand’s unique ice-hardening technique, the edge on this knife will not stain or chip with use and will also retain its sharpness for years. In fact, all of the knives in this series are made from special steel that has been perfected for 280 years! 

Besides the price (which is on the high end), the only con is the super sharp blade, which is a benefit. You WILL get a nasty cut if you are not careful or are not used to filleting fish. 

One of the great things we loved about this fish knife was the smooth, ergonomic handle.


5. Wusthof Pro 9 Inch 

Wusthof Pro 9 Inch Fish Fillet Knife
  • High carbon steel
  • Black poly handle
  • Stain free blade

The Wusthof Pro is a 9 inches long knife that sharpens easily and retains its edge for long periods. Boasting 56 Rockwell hardness, this NSF certified blade comes with a Santoprene handle complete with finger guard for smooth and safe filleting action. What makes this one of the best filleting knife fishing sportsmen can get is that it comes with a lifetime warranty. This benefit also makes it invaluable for the restaurant and food industry.

This knife has no reported cons other than the fact that it can be lethal in unpracticed hands. To be honest, you shouldn’t be handling a blade of this caliber without some serious filleting experience. 

The blade is so sharp it can be used to cut off wafer-thin slices of fish effortlessly provided you have a steady hand. 


6. Rapala Heavy-Duty Electric 

Sale
Rapala Heavy Duty Electric Fillet Knife
  • Made of highest quality material
  • Manufacturer: Rapala
  • Rapala heavy duty electric Fillet knife

This heavy-duty knife gives you more power resulting in not only clean cuts but also incredible control when you are filleting big fish. No hacking required. Cut through backbones and bones without exerting yourself using this easy-to-use knife.

The seven and a half inch reciprocating style blade is just the right size for all your filleting needs, and the vibration does short work of the toughest fish. Additionally, the grip is ergonomically designed to give you a relaxed grip and prevent fatigue from free filleting. 

The 8 inches long cord can be a bit troublesome as it can get between your feet as you are filleting. Plus, we also discovered that the blade of this knife could unlock under extreme pressure, and the cord can also get jammed. 

However, the fact that it is three times more potent than other filleting knives in the market made it stand out. Plus, the simple airflow design keeps the motor from overheating. 


7. Dexter-Russell SG133-8 

The Dexter-Russel SG133-8 is a real beauty as far as filleting knives go. The sleek, dull yet highly sharp knife is ergonomically designed to reduce persistent stress that may otherwise cause carpal tunnel. The soft rubber grip handle allows users to tighten their grip without losing control of the stain-free and high-carbon steel blade, which can slice through meat and bones smoothly.

The only thing that took us a bit aback about this knife was the price, which is higher than other blades in the same class. 

On the other hand, the knife is surprisingly easy to clean, and it remains bacteria-free because there is no gap between the blade and the handle. 


8. Morakniv Fishing Comfort 

Morakniv Fishing Comfort Fillet Knife with Sandvik Stainless Steel Blade, 6.1-Inch
  • Stainless steel fillet knife with patterned, high-friction...
  • 6.1-inch blade is versatile enough for most sizes of fish;...
  • Sandvik 12C27 stainless steel is known for its razor...

Fish knife filleting can be hazardous if the blade you are using is not sharp enough or gets damaged easily. The Morakniv Fishing Comfort fillet knife is a robust and intelligent tool that is flexible and honed sufficient to prevent that from happening.

The long trailing-point blade is made from cold-rolled Swedish stainless steel and boasts a flat grind and high polish finish that you will surely appreciate. The patterned high-friction grip offers a slip-free grip that is rare in budget-friendly blades like this one.

The only thing we didn’t like about this knife was the overly-large handle, which could prove cumbersome in small hands.

On the other hand, it also comes out on top as the best knife for filleting fish due to its high-carbon steel blade and heavy-duty built. So whether you are using it on a boat or in the kitchen, you won’t be disappointed. 


9. Rapala Fish ‘N Fillet Knife with Sheath

Sale
Rapala 6" Fish'n Fillet Knife / Single Stage Sharpener / Sheath
  • The product is Fish 'N Fillet 6" Knife
  • Easy to use
  • The product is manufactured in China

Another great offering from Rapala, this fish ‘N Fillet knife also comes with a gorgeous sheath and a full-tang stainless steel blade that can slice through meat and bone with ease. The long blade holds an ultra-sharp edge, and its length ensures a range of flexibility that is unique in knives that are in this price range. The leather Laplander sheath is perhaps the most attractive aspect of the blade.

You may need to sharpen this knife frequently and before every use, but since it comes with its sharpener, that shouldn’t be a problem. However, that will take away some of the enjoyment out of its use.

On the other hand, the ultra-thin blade can hold an edge for a full day of filleting whether you are on a boat or working with it in a kitchen. 


10. Kershaw Clearwater 

Kershaw Clearwater 7’’ Fillet Knife (1257X), Fixed Japanese 420J2 High-Performance Stainless Steel Blade with Satin Finish and Textured Co-Polymer Black Handle, ABS Sheath Included, 4 oz
  • 7" high-performance Japanese 420J2 stainless steel blade is...
  • Comfortable, basic Black, textured, co-polymer soft rubber...
  • Made in the U.S.A. And Backed by Kershaw limited Lifetime...

The next filleting knife in the list is the Kershaw Clearwater, a knife that is a testament to Japanese ingenuity. The stainless steel blade is solid for filleting large fish, and even if it is on the soft side, the bendable blade does not break easily. Corrosion is not an issue either, which is an invaluable feature if you are filleting saltwater fish. 

The handle fits in hand beautifully, so you don’t have to work hard to make precise cuts. Plus, there are neon headlights on the tip, so you can always find the knife in the dark without cutting yourself. 

The Kershaw is typically used onshore in a kitchen rather than out on the water because it does not have as much maneuverability as other, more expensive fillet knives.

However, it can be used to cut through tough fish with a few simple strokes, so it doesn’t require much work. 


How to Select the Right Fillet Knife for Fish

Best fillet knives for tuna
Filleting a tuna for sashimi! Source: Phuket@photographer.net

There are a number of great knives on the market and if the aforementioned list didn’t help you narrow your choices, consider these features to make an informed decision:

Fishing Fillet Knife Features

The Blade

Stainless steel is the standard material that gives a fillet knife its edge, but not all of them can provide the same quality results. The one you get should be resistant to corrosion, durable, and strong enough to slice through tough meat and bone.

Handle Comfort and Grip

A fillet knife with a weak grip WILL cut you severely, and you have no one to blame for it but yourself. Plastic and molded rubber are ideal choices because of the firm grip, but make sure the handle has a beveled area for your index finger to rest on. Otherwise, your hand can slip while you are cutting fish, and the blade can nick you. 

When it comes to quality, look for a full tang handle. The full tang means the blade material goes through the entire knife giving it strength.

Size Matters

If you are buying one fillet knife, to determine the size, you should look into look at the size of the average fish you will catch. For example, you can fillet small panfish, perch, and trout with a 6” or 7” knife easily, but with larger ones, an 8” to 9” blade will be sufficient. If you are catching both types of fish, keep one of each fillet knife with you. Five inches will also do in a pinch but only for smaller fish. 

Strength

A thick blade will give you enough leverage to slice through dense bones and meat, but it should be flexible enough to slice through easily. 

FAQs

Q: Who makes the best fish fillet knife?

A: The brands that make the best fillet knives are those that keep the angler’s needs in mind not only out on the water but also inland. Many fishermen like Bubba Blade and Gerber, but there are others that we mentioned above that are worth noting too.

Q: What is the best steel for a fillet knife?

A: High carbon stainless steel is mostly considered to be the best type for fillet knives. 

Q: What is the best salmon fillet knife?

A: The perfect salmon fillet knife is one that should have a narrow and flexible blade that can run through the length of the salmon and come out the other end quickly. 

Q: What is the difference between a fillet knife and a boning knife?

A: Boning knives are used to remove bone from meat, and filleting knives are used to remove bones and skin from the meat. 

Insider Advice

When you are shopping for a quality knife, make sure that you keep the size of the fish you will be filleting in mind. If you get one with a thick blade that cannot slice through salmon, for instance, you will do a hack job on that gorgeous meat. Envision how you want the slices to look on the plate before buying one. 


The Anglers Behind This Article:

Jon Stenstrom
Founder

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