10 Best Fillet Knives for Cleaning Fish in 2023

Photo of author
Last Updated:

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 the fish fillet knives 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 best fillet knife we think are the great of the lot along with their pros and cons. 

Listen to more tips on the Cast & Spear Podcast

10 Best Fillet Knives Reviewed

Here are our top picks for fishing fillet knives!

1. Shun Cutlery Classic 

Best Fillet Knife

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

The super sharp 6-inch quality blade length 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 fillet 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 high-quality fillet knife passed with flying colors for deboning fish, poultry, and other meats. The blade also maintains its razor-sharp edge for a long time when it is in use, making it our choice for the best fillet knife.

2. American Angler PRO Electric 

Best Electric Fillet Knife

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 fillet knife can cut through the most robust bones and separate skin and scale from fillets effortlessly, whether cutting through a tough, scaly fish or a soft-boned one. The trigger switch could be more sensitive and lose efficiency if you use the electric 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 fillet knife used for filleting 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.

3. Gerber Controller Saltwater Fillet Knife

The next fillet 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 for saltwater fish 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 fillet knife isn’t cutting like butter. That’s super handy, especially when you’re on the boat!

4. Zwilling J.A. Henckels 

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 length 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 electric fillet 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 razor-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

The Wusthof Pro has a 9 inches blade length 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 a finger guard for smooth and safe filleting action. 

This is one of the best fillet knives fishing sportsmen can get because 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 that it can be lethal in unpracticed hands.

Honestly, you shouldn’t be handling a blade of this caliber without some serious filleting experience. The blade is razor 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 

This heavy-duty knife gives you more power, resulting in clean cuts and incredible control when you are filleting big fish. No hacking is 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 the short work of the toughest fish. Additionally, the ergonomic handle is 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 most electric fillet knives on 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 fillet knives go. The sleek, dull yet highly sharp knife is ergonomically designed to reduce persistent stress that may otherwise cause carpal tunnel. 

The soft rubberized 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 remains bacteria-free because there is no gap between the blade and the handle.

8. Morakniv Fishing Comfort 

Fish knife filleting can be hazardous if the blade you are using is not sharp enough or gets damaged easily. The Morakniv Fishing Comfort fish fillet knife is a robust and intelligent tool that is flexible and honed sufficiently 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. This fillet knife cost $31. It’s a budget fillet knife that’s a good buy.

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 fish fillets due to its high-carbon steel blade and heavy-duty build. So, you won’t be disappointed whether you are using it on a boat or in the kitchen.

9. Rapala Fish ‘N Fillet Knife with Sheath

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

The next filleting knife on the list is the Kershaw Clearwater, a knife that is a testament to the Japanese knife’s 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 your 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 as a kitchen knife 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: [email protected]

There are a number of great fillet 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

The blade is the most important aspect to consider if you want the knife primarily for fish fillets. A good fillet knife will have a long, thin, and flexible blade that is easy to maneuver. A stiffer blade will work better for cutting through bone, but it won’t have the same level of flexibility. 

A stainless-steel blade is a good choice because it is less likely to corrode, but a high-carbon steel blade will hold its edge better. 

The Handle Comfort and Grip

The handle of a fillet knife should be comfortable to hold and have a good grip that won’t slip, even when your hands are wet. If you have a knife that is too big or too small, it won’t be easy to handle.

A full-tang knife is always a good choice because it provides more stability. Plastic sheath and molded rubber are ideal choices because of the firm grip, but ensure the handle has a beveled area for your index finger to rest on. Otherwise, your hand can slip while cutting fish, and the blade can nick you. 

Strength and Weight

A good fillet knife will be lightweight, so your hand doesn’t get tired while you are filleting. It should also be durable enough to withstand years of use. A thick blade will give you enough leverage to fillet larger fish, but a thin blade will be more flexible and easier to maneuver. 

Size Fillet Knife

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. A 5 inch fillet knife will also do in a pinch but only for smaller fish. 


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. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Who makes the best fish fillet knife?

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.

What is the best steel for a fillet knife?

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

What is the best salmon fillet knife?

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.

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

A boning knife is used to remove bone from meat, and fillet knives are used to remove bones and skin from the meat.

Insider Advice

When you are shopping for the best fish fillet 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. 

Jon Stenstrom
Founder & Angler
Jon Stenstrom is a fishing enthusiast. He has over 25 years of fishing experience, and 6 years of spearfishing experience, and is currently learning how to boat. Jon has his Open Water PADI Certification and FII Freediver Level 1 Certification. Jon has traveled the world to fish and dive, most notably in the Great Barrier Reef, Baja Mexico, Thailand, and Malaysia. More Articles
× How can we improve it?
× Thanks for your feedback!

We're always looking to improve our articles to help you become an even better fisherman.

While you're here, why not follow us on Facebook and YouTube? Facebook YouTube

Best Fishing Coolers

Best Fishing Coolers for Keeping Fish Fresh in 2023

Our top fishing cooler for keeping fish fresh is the Yeti Tundra 65 Cooler, Charcoal. This cooler can keep your fish frozen for days thanks to its 3 inches of PermaFrost insulation. It also features self-draining cup holders and tie-down loops that can withstand harsh wet environments. The Rotomolded construction and rust-resistant stainless steel screws
Dive Knife

Best Dive Knife – Our Top 6 Picks for 2023

Our best dive knife for scuba & freediving in 2023 is Cressi Skorpion Dive Knife. This tempered stainless steel knife tops our list because it’s durable, sharp, and safe. It has a sheath with a locking mechanism. The other option is the AquaLung Squeeze Lock Knife, which is small, easy to use, and has a
tuna tail

How To Make Fish Taste Better

Are you curious about how to make fish taste better? It’s one thing to know how to catch a fish, yet entirely different to know how to make it taste restaurant quality. In this guide, I share what I’ve figured out after years of trial and error in the kitchen. Having access to wild food
marlin taken for dinner

How To Kill A Big Fish (And Be Mentally Ready For It)

I was 30 when I put a knife through a big fish’s brain. I was 15 hours south of the US border, floating by myself in the Pacific Ocean. I had just finished a seven-minute rodeo with my largest yellowtail trying my best not to get tangled in my reel line. Adrenaline was coursing through

4 Ways To Immortalize Your Catch So You Can Relive The Moment Long After You Stop Diving

Certain fish demand immortalization. Memories are nice, but memories fade. With the uncertainties of life, you never know when you’ll need to hang up your fins. Not to get sentimental, but when you’re older you’ll want to relive parts of your youth. I want to share a few time capsules you can use to document
how to fillet bass

How to Fillet Bass

Although bass can be a delicious fish, the proper cleaning techniques can make the difference between a fine meal and a wonderful one. How to fillet bass can be challenging, especially if you’ve never seen it done before. But if you clean, gut, and fillet the fish correctly, you can cook your sea bass or