Every fisherman deserves a quality fishing knife. Most will require at least a fillet knife for cutting their catch and one to help them with cutting lines and making rigs.
With a lot of fishing knives on the market, it can be hard to pick the best one. Here is a buying guide to the best fishing knives you can use for a variety of fishing situations:
- Best Japanese Steel Fishing Fillet Knife-DALSTRONG Phantom Series – Japanese High-Carbon Steel
- Best Hunting Fishing Knives-Gerber Bear Grylls Folding Sheath Knife
- Best Electric Fillet Knife-American Angler PRO Electric Fillet Knife
- Zwilling J.A. Henckels
- Wenger Swibo
- KastKing Fillet Knife
- Best All-Purpose Knife-Gerber Fastball Folding Knife with Lock Release
- F. Dick ErgoGrip Breaking Knife
- Best Morakniv Fishing Knife-Morakniv Fishing Comfort Fillet Knife
Listen to more tips on the Cast & Spear Podcast
10 Best Fishing Knives for 2023 Reviewed
1. DALSTRONG Phantom Series – Japanese High-Carbon Steel
Best Japanese Steel Fishing Fillet Knife
The DALSTRONG Phantom series knife is manufactured for precise filleting, skinning, butterflying, and boning. Boasting Japanese steel, each blade is hand sharpened to perfection via the Honbazuke method and also features a narrow width for fast and effortless cuts.
The unique DragonLock sheath shuts completely over the blade, thus locking it in place when it is not in use. Plus, the interior is lined with soft suede, which protects the blade from corrosion and keeps it moisture-free.
This is considered to be the best fishing knife you can get because it features high levels of chromium, which prevent stains from setting in.
Plus, we loved the polished spine, how well it facilitated grip, and the highly glossy sheen really makes the knife stand out as well. However, while the engravings looked gorgeous, they did make cleaning the knife a bit tricky.
2. Gerber Bear Grylls Folding Sheath Knife
Best Hunting Fishing Knives
Backed by celebrity adventurer Bear Grylls, this folding sheath knife has everything you need to fillet fish or carve up any other kind of meat.
The knife features a dual-sided thumb stud for easy access, and the ergonomic textured grip enhances comfort and prevents it from slipping. The nylon sheath is lightweight, military-grade, and keeps mildew at bay.
Plus, it can be attached to the gear vertically or horizontally, whichever way you think is more comfortable.
The lock-back mechanism also locks the blade securely in place to prevent accidents as you flip the knife to close it. It is perhaps one of the best knives you can have if you find yourself stranded in the wild or have to fillet a tough fish.
The Gerber Bear Grylls knife is a reasonable, low cost and quality blade you should have in your kit but opening it with one hand can be a challenge. However, the finger choil is deep enough to allow a good and reliable grip for your fingers.
3. American Angler PRO Electric Fillet Knife
Best Electric Fillet Knife
We think the American Angler Pro Electric Fillet Knife is an angler’s dream. Featuring a stainless steel blade and a 110-volt motor, it can cut through the most hardened bones and scales like butter.
The knife comes with a nylon mesh storage case that is ventilated to prevent the blade from getting funky, and the grip pad can be used with one hand easily as you hold the fish with the other.
The long blade is titanium-coated, and the motor gives more torque and power than other electric fillet knives.
What stands out is the airflow design because it keeps the motorized knife fresh as you cut through one fish after another. In other words, you won’t have to stop filleting to allow the knife to cool down too soon after you start.
However, if the motor breaks down, you will have to replace it, and getting each flexible blade into the bag can also be tricky.
4. Zwilling J.A. Henckels
The Zwilight J.A. Henckels 7-inch fixed blade is the defining feature of one of the best fishing pocket knives you can get. The stainless blade has a straight edge, as well as a modest curve near the bolster for optimal performance.
The thin edge allows the knife to get in between tiny meat fibers, thus making short work of the toughest fish.
The flexible blade is made of Firdour, a special kind of steel that cannot stain or get damaged easily. The unique blade design is one of the main reasons why this filleting knife is considered to be one of the best knives you can get.
The knife is easy to use because of its exceptional ergonomic handle and blade design. Still, these outstanding knife features also make this one of the most expensive filleting blades on the market.
But if you want a long-lasting one then consider investing in it and similar products.
5. Wenger Swibo
This is one of the better fillet knives you can get, the Wenger Swibo features a fixed blade that is flexible and sharp enough to go through tough meat, scales, and bones with ease.
The comfortable ergonomic handle won’t place extra stress on your hand as you cut, and since it is sealed to the blade, you won’t have to worry about bits of meat getting in between gaps or your grip slipping. The blade length is a modest 7 inches, and it is resistant to corrosion and wear.
The bright yellow color of the handle makes this fillet knife pop, and the razor-sharp blade can get the job done quickly. If you think the flexible blade comes with a sheath, you will be disappointed.
Filleting a tough fish can be easy if you have a fillet knife that is designed for maneuverability, such as the Wusthof Pro. The blade length is a modest 7 inches.
It is made from German stainless steel, and it boasts a Santoprene non-slip ergonomic handle that ensures a firm grip. The entire collection is N.S.F. approved and also comes with a finger guard for safety and comfort during all types of cutting tasks.
Use the knife to fillet, skin, and debone fish easily whether you are out on the water or in a commercial kitchen.
Unfortunately, the sharp knife does not come with a leather sheath, so you will have to be very careful where you keep it when it is not in use. However, this may not be enough to stop you from considering it each time you want to go camping or fishing.
Since it is one of the best-fixed blade knives for fishing, you don’t have to worry about carrying extra blades with you. Just make sure you take the best knife sharpener for all fishing knives with you, though.
7. KastKing Fillet Knife
We think this is one of the raddest looking and best knives for fishing you can get. Made from gorgeous black German stainless steel, the KastKing Fillet Knife comes in a durable knife sheath and can maintain its edge for a long time when it is in use.
Plus, the sheath also features open slots that ensure the blade gets enough airflow to remain dry.
The unique design of the sheath locks the handle in when the knife is sheathed to prevent accidents and to keep the blade nice and dry in between each use.
The Super-Polymer handle offers a steady and slip-resistant grip, so the knife is quite easy to use.
We fell in love with the breathtaking black case the knife came in, which makes it an excellent gift choice for any angler and the best fishing knife you can get overall.
However, the blade is known for losing its razor-sharp edge quite quickly, so you may need to take a sharpener with you.
8. Gerber Fastball Folding Knife with Lock Release
Best All-Purpose Knife
The Fastball Folding Knife from Gerber is a stainless steel pocket fillet knife that boasts a three-position pocket clip and a B.O.S.S. Tech ball bearing system that ensures smooth deployment. The blade can be deployed with a simple finger flick, and the aircraft-grade aluminum handle sits in hand comfortably.
The blade length sits at a modest 3 inches, which makes it the perfect fishing knife for the minimalist angler. The black oxide-coated Wharncliffe blade offers a cutting edge that can help you make short work of the toughest fish.
We liked the ambidextrous three-way reversible pocket clip, the knife came in, and even though it is on the small side, that did not affect its performance at all. There were no significant drawbacks of the knife as far as we could see, but some people may find the flipping mechanism a bit stiff the first couple of times they use the knife.
9. F. Dick ErgoGrip Breaking Knife
One of the best saltwater fishing knives, the F. Dick ErgoGrip Breaking knife gives you a confident grip and remains comfortable in your hands at the same time. The fishing knife boasts a high carbon stain-resistant blade that has a keen edge straight out of the box. Plus, it is incorporated seamlessly into the ergonomic handle, thus preventing bacteria from entering.
This also ensures easy sharpening, and you can thank the durable core of the handle for that too. What is truly special about the handle is that it is made from Poluamides-nylon polymers, which are known for their resistance to abrasion, heat, chemicals, and damage, so you will be using your ErgoGrip for a long time.
We liked the extra ample thumb rest in the handle because it gave us a stable grip as we cut. However, while the handle gets top points, the blade doesn’t, unfortunately, since it can lose its edge reasonably quickly. So you may need to take a sharpener with you also.
10. Morakniv Fishing Comfort Fillet Knife
Best Morakniv Fishing Knife
If you want a fishing knife that has the best looks and can make precision cuts, you need the Morakniv Fishing Comfort Fillet Knife in your kit. Boasting a beautifully patterned high-tech friction handle, the knife is available in 3 and 6-blade lengths for your convenience. The blades are made from cold-rolled stainless steel from Sweden that is flexible and easy to sharpen.
Plus, the slip-free rubber handle doesn’t get cold in winter, so you may not need to invest in another fishing knife at all.
The sheath and belt clips that come with this fishing knife will prove invaluable when you find yourself out in the wilderness, on the water, or have a lot of gear. However, the Morakniv is not suited for saltwater use, so the blade may erode if you use it on a saltwater fish.
How to Pick the Best Fishing Knife?
There are a bunch of great-looking knives out there. However, not every fishing knife is the same so if you want to make sure that you get one that meets your needs, take the following factors into consideration:
The first thing you need to consider is the size of the blade of the knife you will need. The best ones are ‘full tang,’ i.e., their blades run the whole length of the handle, which makes them stronger and more stable.
However, choose one that fits your filleting needs. Most fishing knives have 4 to 10-inch long blades. Shorter ones are ideal for small fish such as sunfish, perch, and crappies, while longer ones can be used to fillet bigger fish such as pike, salmon, and large saltwater species with ease.
A good rule of thumb is to have two to three great fishing knives of varying lengths with you. That way, you can fillet your entire day’s catch without wasting precious meat.
A great fishing knife has features that can prove useful for filleting a range of fish species. As mentioned before, it should have a full tang blade to ensure control, but it should also give you a better feel for bone structure as you cut. In other words, the fishing knife should help you determine how deep or shallow the blade is in the fish as you fillet.
These features can ensure you remain in control of each cut and prevent accidents at the same time.
Great fishing knives have stainless steel blades because they do not corrode easily, even in saltwater. Plus, these ensure precise cuts each time because they retain their edge for a long time.
Besides the blade material, you should also consider the material of the handle. Besides being ergonomic to prevent stress and fatigue, it should give you a sure grip to ensure safety. The best materials include wood, rubber, and several flexible options.
While wood is the traditional choice, it can get quite slippery when it gets wet and can crack when it dries out, especially if it is tossed in the dishwasher after each use. Plus, it can soak up the smell of the fish and can be challenging to clean.
In contrast, plastic handles are considered to be sturdier, but the material can also get quite slippery when it gets wet. To prevent this, try wearing rubber gloves, but you will sacrifice control over the knife if you do this. A great fishing knife has a handle that is made of a mix of materials for better performance.
Most people overlook the material of the sheath when they are searching for this product to their detriment. These are available in a range of materials, such as plastic, leather, and even nylon. While leather and nylon are favorites, they can retain moisture and viscera when you fillet. In contrast, molded plastic dries quickly and does not soak up the smell, so it lasts longer.
Plus, look for sheaths that have draining ports and enough ventilation to wipe the blade.
This is where the design of the handle of the fishing knife comes into the picture. It should fit perfectly in your hand and allow you to control the blade without losing your grip on the knife, even if the handle becomes slick with blood, water, and slime from your filleting efforts.
A great knife also has finger holds or over molds at strategic points on the handle to boost control and grip. The bottom line is that the handle should reduce fatigue and strain during long cleaning sessions.
When you are filleting one fish after another, a nasty cut is inevitable if your fishing knife is not made to prevent it. There are many things you need to consider to avoid this from happening or at least reduce the numbers.
For one thing, the handle should be ergonomic i.e., it should be designed to mold itself to the contours of your hand to ensure a firm grip. Ideally, the handle should get sticky (not slippery) when it gets wet, and the knife should also come with a sheath for easy and safe storage.
While companies like Winkler, Benchmade, Hobo Forge, Montana Knife Company, and Half Face blades make the highest quality outdoor knives available, you’d be hard-pressed to find one of their blades under $150.
Instead, anglers are looking to spend a reasonable amount of money on a knife that maintains both an edge and integrity no matter what it’s put through.
If you can afford a beautiful, premium blade such as those listed above, go for it. But if, like most, you’re on a budget when it comes to cutlery, the list above holds everything you need. $30-$80 is reasonable but make sure it fits the exact niche you’re looking to fill.
To get a precise cut each time you slide the knife through a fish, the blade should flex to the bone. This feature can allow you to work along the spine and over the ribs without cutting either one.
Since a majority of cutting is done with the lower half of the blades, look for a knife that has about 15% to 20% flex or bend near the handle.
The tip of the knife should also be flexible so that it skin fish with precision. You may need to get many blades in the end because there is no standard measurement for this feature.
A good fillet knife should make you feel each part of the fish as you cut so you can guide your hand accordingly. That is the best way to ensure you get perfect fillets each time, irrespective of the number of fish you have to go through.
Naturally, the blade should be razor-sharp so it can slide through flesh, scales, and bone like it’s gliding through butter and without straining your hand too quickly.
Frequently Asked Questions
That depends on the size and type of fish you are filleting. For instance, if you want to fillet panfish such as perch and bluegill, take blades that are 6 inches in length.
If you’re going to fillet slightly larger fish such as trout or bass, a 7.5-inch knife will do, while giants such as salmon and pike should be filleted with 9-inch blades.
By ensuring you use the right edges, you can save a lot of meat from being wasted and prevent accidents. You may need to take several blades with you, so check out different products beforehand.
Boning knives are explicitly designed to remove bones from meat, and fillet knives are made to remove the skin from bone.
The latter is more maneuverable, flexible, and thinner than the former to ensure precision cuts in delicate fish meat. There are many boning knives that are flexible enough that they can be used to fillet fish, but it is not a recommended practice.
The filleting knife is the best knife to use if you want to cut out neat fillets from a fish, but make sure that it is sharp enough to get between the skin and the meat as well.
There is also a special fish knife that you can use to cut up and eat a whole fish. It has an extensive and spatula-like blade as well as a sharp point that can be used to make cuts on a fish and remove the skin easily.
If you have a lot of fish to fillet at a time, using an electric fillet knife cuts cutting time and effort without tiring you out.
You should consider filleting your fish if you want to fry or roast it, but make sure you gut it first.
There is a lot of fish that are quite easy to fillet with a fillet knife. Some of them include salmon, sardines, trout, mackerel, cod, sea bream, pollock, and mullet.
Not quickly, but the fish will go into shock. Many can even live in ice water for a long time without dying.
A fishing knife can allow you to produce beautiful fillets, but since each one is different, you may have to take several with you to ensure this. You can go with an electric knife, but only if you know how to fillet without cutting yourself.
Practice with a traditional knife first before graduating to an electric one, or you may find yourself short a couple of fingers!