The best way to transform fresh catches into a fulfilling meal is through the help of a trusty, sharp fillet knife. The wrong knife can turn filleting into a nightmare; waste meat, increase the risk of slicing yourself, and won’t be able to hold an edge. To accelerate your search for the best fillet knife, we’ve gathered a collection of the finest cutlery companions to help turn a slick fish into table fare for all.
Certain fillet knives are also designed to be multi-purpose. Beyond fish, they can help prepare vegetables such as bell peppers or create boneless chicken cutlets in a matter of seconds. Whatever you are preparing, the feeling of the clean, smooth cut of a fillet knife is an addictive and rewarding feeling. Remember, the more you use the knife the shorter the period the knife will hold its edge. Depending on the quality, you can find knives that hold their edge for months (even with regular daily use) before needing a sharpening.
Things to Consider Before Purchasing a Fillet Knife
Here are a few of the top things to look at before dishing out cash for a fillet knife. Filleting a fish is a skill-intensive task, and even with the best knife if you lack experience there’s still going to be a learning process to trudge through. Skilled hands with the right knife will make work efficient and stress-free.
- Blade. Ideally you want a non-corrosive durable metal blade. Many experts recommend a stainless steel blade because of their inherent longevity. Carbon steel and titanium blades are also common options.
- Flex. A flexible blade will allow you to keep tight angles while filleting. Those angles will depend of course on the size of your fish.
- Size. Depending on the size of your bounty, you’ll want to adapt your knife to the occasion. For big fish with stronger ribs, a serrated edge may sometimes be a good option. Some blades are adjustable, allowing you to customise the blade to the task. Generally speaking, a blade size between 6 to 7 inches is ideal for most applications. You’ll want a long blade that provides the extra strength required to fillet a larger fish.
- Handle & Grip. The right handle will be durable and prevent any slippage when going about the task at hand. You also want something comfortable, especially if you’re going to be filleting multiple fish at a time.
- Electric. Some electric fillet knives are now on the market. Some people swear by them and some people prefer the old-fashioned method. These are mostly used in commercial applications where speed is critical. We will look at a couple later on.
- Weight. For the most part, this goes hand in hand with the size of the blade. Longer, thicker blades will be much heavier than their shorter, thinner counterparts. But the blade material can affect the overall weight as well. For the best fillet, a flexible, thin blade is ideal.
Some of us like our brands. We buy the same brand of jeans and jackets because they fit right and last a long time. Maybe you’re a brand person or maybe not. But when it comes to knives, the name behind the blade is worth noting. Over the years, a few choice brands have risen to the top and are lauded for their fine craftsmanship. There is a grand and loyal following of Dexter-Russell out there in the fishing community. You can’t fault them either, as Dexter are one of the best in the business. Also, you can’t go wrong with Wusthof either. Berkely, Victorinox, Bubba, Dexter-Russell, Zwilling J.A. Henckels, Rapala, Cutco, and Shun are a handful of the top premium fillet knife manufacturers. Knives of Alaska and Buck Silver Creek are smaller, lesser known brands but also make good knives.
Those are our top picks when it comes to fillet knives brands. In the review section, we look at a couple other options because it’s good to view the competition, but it’s hard to go wrong with one of those brands. Of course, each of these brands has a few “fluke” models that aren’t their best work. We’ve left those out of this story because we’re only interested in the best knives.
The 11 Best Fillet Knife Options of 2016
Without further ado, here is the choice selection of fillet knives this year.
Dexter-Russel is renowned for making some of the best blades for serious fishers. The 6 inch high carbon steel blade is bolstered by a grip-tex handle for no slips. The blade is perfect for deboning fish. It is flexible, long, and thin, with a slight upward curve. The end is extremely sharp for entering and slicing up fish and poultry alike. The grip-tex handle is a safeguard and seal preventing any bacteria buildup.
Germans are known for their excellent craftsmanship. And nowhere is that more apparent than in Wusthof knives. Wusthof has been around for over 200 years and been supplying knives to families for seven generations. This is a high carbon stainless steel blade complemented by a synthetic handle for a firm grip. This is a great all-around knife for skinning and deboning small to medium sized fish.
Another offering from Wusthof, but a tad shorter measuring in at 6 inches. This thin blade is amazingly sharp and flexible, permitting flawless fillets that will impress even the most grizzled of veterans. The countered handle is carved from African Blackwood which is known to be one of the world’s hardest timbers. It’s expensive, but one of Wusthof’s crown jewels, made for decades of service and sublime carving experience.
If you are a fan of quality Swiss Army Knives, you may dig their fillet options. Victorinox blades are forged with precision in Switzerland by master cutlers. This is a great knife for bigger fish. The blade is 8-inches long and features a textured, slip-resistant grip. As with all Victorinox cutlery, this knife is backed by a lifetime warranty against workmanship defects.Berkley Deluxe Electric Fillet Knife
This is one of the electric knives that made our list. The Berkley Deluxe will slice through just about anything you throw at it like a knife through butter. It comes with a carrying case, 12-volt battery, 110 volt wall outlet, 18-foot cord, auto outlet adapter, and interchangeable 6 and 8 inch blades. As long as you have a power source, you can set up shop and get filleting. Our favorite part of the knife is the two different length blades, stainless steel and serrated.
If you’re looking for a budget option electric knife, the Mister Twister is the best for the price. It comes with 120V AC plug in so it doesn’t have a battery or car option like the Berkley knife. But the chopping action is up to par, and the knife performs well against the toughest fish. It also features a safety lock to prevent injuries as well as a convenient blade release for easy cleaning and accessibility.
Another knife crafted in Germany, the Twin Pro S from Zwilling J.A. Henckels is a professional stainless steel boning knife. It is impeccably balanced with a black, three-rivet full tang handle. This will remove bones from any type of meat with ease. The company also creates a knife sharpener that keeps the blade on the cutting-edge. Furthermore, the knives go through J.A. Henckel’s patented ice hardening process, which prevents corrosion.Bubba Blade Tapered Flex Fillet Knife
Bubba Blade makes some high quality knifes that are usually at a pretty high price point. You also get Bubba’s signature look, the red texture-wrapped rubber handle complimented by a snug silver or black blade. The trigger grip on this knife enables you to put some extra power on the knife when necessary. A pad for thumb and fingers also ensure a firm grip and complete control when carving. This is a seven inch flex blade that’s an ideal all around blade for most fillet jobs.Rapala Rechargeable Cordless Electric Fillet Knife
Probably one of the best electric filleting knives available, the best thing about it is that this electric knife is cordless. No annoying cord getting in the way when you’re doing some serious slicing and shaving. The Rapala electric comes with dual rechargeable battery packs so it won’t run out of juice unless you’ve got ice chests full of fish. This kit also comes with a 6 and 7.5 inch blade and carrying case. The motor is engineered to be quiet and an air flow system keeps it cool.
Shun is a Japanese knife maker. Seafood is definitely one of Japan’s specialties, and they also have learned to craft some pretty dang good knives over the years. Shun knives are honed to perfection, and this classic 6 inch knife is no exception. A steel capped, Pakkawood polished handle seamlessly blends into the blade composed of 33 layers of stainless steel give this knife a beautiful appearance. Shun backs this knife with a lifetime warranty and is forged to last through the ages.
This is a less expensive offering from Rapala. It’s a basic filleting knife, sturdy with a soft textured grip. The blade is flexible and stainless steel. The Soft Grip series also comes with a black sheath and a single stage sharpener to keep the edge super sharp. There are multiple size options starting at 4 inch all the way up to 9 inch depending on your needs and preference.