For those of us that do harvest our catches, a quality fillet knife can make the work of cleaning and preparing your catch that much easier. In this review, we’re going to take a look at various models of knives, their pros and cons, and more.
Join me as we take a look at some of the best fillet knives on the market so you can, as always, buy with confidence.
This article will include:
- Best overall fillet knives
- Best fillet knives for the money
- Best culinary/high-end fillet knives
- Best folding fillet knife
- Best electric fillet knife
- What makes a good fillet knife
- How to fillet fish
- How to sharpen a fillet knife
- And much more!
Factors Included in “The Best” Fillet Knives
So what exactly determines a fillet knife to be one of the best? What separates a really, really good knife? The traits we have considered below are: build, flexibility, craftsmanship, grip, guarantee, blade size/thickness (depending on the fish), materials, handle, blade sharpness, edge resilience, value, reputation, flexibility, and history. When you put all of this together your new knife will be your baby–it will have a story to tell.
Best Fillet Knives (Overall)
- 10 in blade
- Full Tang
- 9cr Steel Alloy Blade
- HydroTread Grip
- Advanced Vented Sheath System
- Built-in Sharpener
After questioning ‘hardcore’ anglers from all areas of the sport, Gerber implemented its findings and developed the Controller.
A robust fillet knife for both salt and freshwater. No matter the technique or target you’re fishing for, the controller will get the job done. This knife comes with ‘the Gerber lifetime guarantee.
This knife from Gerber is a purposefully designed tool that utilizes quality components that live up to the reputation Gerber has earned through years of experience in the knife business.
9cr steel stays sharp longer and resists rust, and the full tang construction of this fillet knife further adds to its durability. The ten-inch blade can make quick work of even larger fish, so whether you’re harvesting salmon or catfish, this knife is up for the task.
The HydroTread grip provides the angler with a solid and reliable handle even when soaking wet.
The advanced vented sheath is the stand-out feature of this Gerber product. The knife won’t become water-logged when submerged and dries quickly, and there is a built-in sharpener so you can touch up the blade on the job.
Gerber products are designed to last a lifetime, and this knife tops the list for that reason.
- Quality steel and a full tang make this knife a great tool
- The blade has a perfect balance of flex and hardness for accurate cuts
- Advanced sheath with built-in sharpener is very useful
- The ten-inch blade is a little much if you’re fishing for crappie, but still usable
- 9″ blade
- Non-slip Grip
- Carbon-Titanium Coated Blade, Super Rust-Resistant
- Finger Choil
- Lanyard Hole
- Advanced Sheath System
Bubba holds the unique distinction here of being designed ‘for fishermen by fishermen. The proprietary ergonomic grip system provides solid traction even when soaked. This means accurate, steady cuts, every time.
The finger choil below the blade further adds to the stability of this knife. The blade is durable, super thin, and super sharp. The Ti-Nitride rust-resistant coating makes this knife just as useful in saltwater as it is in fresh.
Bubba brand knives have a great reputation in the knife world and many people have a lot of dedicated brand loyalty to this company. All the reviews concerning this fillet knife put it at the top of the list, so this is more than worth it to check out and see if it’s right for you.
- Quality componentry
- Ergonomic and intuitive
- Great knife from a great company
- 9′ Blade
- Titanium-coated Steel
- Non-Slip Rubber Grip
- Molded Sheath With Belt-Loop
- Forever Warranty from Buck
With a lifetime warranty, you can’t go wrong. There’s nothing to worry about with the Buck 225 Silver Creek. Flexible titanium-coated corrosion-resistant 420 HC steel blade.
Fourteen inches overall makes this perfect for large saltwater fish, yet delicate enough to handle smaller freshwater catches.
The Silver Creek comes with a molded sheath and integrated belt loop holder. The handle is made from rubber, with anti-slip ridges for safety and control. This buck also comes with a lanyard for extra carrying options.
Consider the Buck 225 Silver Creek for your next fillet knife, their reputation speaks for itself.
- The Forever Warranty is a great plus
- Quality steel and sharpness from a company that stands behind their product
Best Fillet Knives For The Money
Here are two of the top fillet knives at a more affordable price.
- G4 116 German Stainless-Steel Blade
- Non-Slip Polymer Grip
- 5′ Model features a serrated back blade
- Well ventilated sheath
Besides having a very stylish color pallet (black and orange), the Kastking features a razor-sharp German G4116 stainless steel flexible blade (7-inch edition) which makes it easy to maneuver.
Kast King fillet knives also come in 5, 6, 7, and 9-inch models. This makes this knife super relevant for freshwater fishermen (particularly the 5 and 6-inch versions).
The KastKing has many of the desirable features of more expensive models at a modest price. Razor sharp, rust-resistant coating and advanced grip system. The polymer grip ensures comfort ergonomics and superior function as you get to work.
The Kastking ranks high with versatility, maneuverability, and durability and is a fine addition to your kit. Numbers don’t lie as this knife has received thousands of rave reviews.
- Multiple different blade sizes to suit the needs of all fishermen
- Razor sharp blade, flexible and precise
- 7′ Swedish Steel
- Ergonomic Birch Handle
- Hand-tooled leather sheath
Boasting a unique position in fishing lineage we have Rapala’s classic wood handle (birch) fillet knife. Rapala says this is the knife that taught everyone how to fillet and they very well may be right. This is a classic that never went out of style, and I have one in both 5-inch and 7-inch models.
This knife features an exceptional hand-crafted leather sheath an ergonomic wooden handle contoured to fit well, premium flexible European steel, expert craftsmanship, and 50 years’ worth of knife making.
The Fish N Fillet features Swedish steel, a birch handle, and a tapered full tang blade. Rapala is quality made in Finland.
Best Culinary Classic | High-End Fillet Knife
These next two fillet knives are top of the line for any cook or chef.
- German steel
- Polyoxymethylene Handle
- Superior Flexibility
- Finger Gaurd
This article wouldn’t be complete without a classic culinary fillet knife. This knife would make an excellent high-quality gift and is more for the kitchen than the tackle box, but whether you use it back at camp or streamside, it can make quick worth of a day’s catch.
It is handmade in Germany and forged from a single piece of steel outfitted with a black polyoxymethylene that resists fading and cracking. The finger guard ensures safety and assists with a traditional culinary feel.
The blade is full tang triple riveted for durability and longevity. Keep this clean, it deserves a special place in your kitchen.
Check out our Other Gear Articles:
- 6″ Damascus Steel Knife Set
- Full Tang
- Natural Wood Handle
- Sharpening Stone
- Leather Sheath
- Storage Box
- Edge-Guard Cover
This is a great fillet knife set and would make a great gift for the avid harvest fisherman. The blade itself is 6″ and carries all the charm and aesthetic that comes with Damascus steel.
It is probably the least flexible of the knives reviewed here, but it still does the job well. Natural wood handle and an ornate and attractive storage box combine to produce a sharp-looking set.
The box contains a sharpening stone, and the set comes with a leather sheath, so you can take it on the water and safely store it back in your kitchen when done for the day. This thing is so pretty I doubt it would ever leave my kitchen.
Best folding fillet knife
- 6″ stainless steel blade
- Foldable with locking back
- Hydrotread grip
- Corrosion resistant coating
- Guidefins for easy hand placement
- Smooth easy filleting
Highly giftable the winner for best folding filet knife goes to the Gerber Controller. Why? Salt and freshwater interchangeability rank high on my list of requirements for the best folding knife.
The controller has a saltwater treatment to help with corrosion and a lanyard hole for the wrist. This folding blade is an excellent addition to one’s kit and is compact for easy storage as you embark.
This wins the Author’s personal selection for 2022 (if I was to buy just one knife) I will be purchasing the Gerber folding fillet knife.
- Works well for both fresh and saltwater conditions
- Ergonomic design, very comfortable to use
- Extremely sharp
- 8.5″ Handle
- 1.11 Pound Weight
- Removable Blades
- Various Blades included, with varying Flexibility/Stiffness
- Wall Charger, Lithium Batteries, and Carrying Case
Bubba comes through again with a labor-saving electric knife that can handle whatever work it’s given, be that a massive crappie fry or cleaning big salmon.
1.11 pounds is quite light for a tool this powerful, and this is a big plus, especially if you have to clean numerous fish. This electric knife comes with four blades, most 7″ long but one 9″ and one at 12″.
Each blade has a varying degree of hardness/stiffness so that you can pick what blade is right for you depending on the fish you’re preparing.
The Bubba Li-lon comes through as our best electric fillet knife, for the money
- Ease of use
- Batteries hold a charge all-day
- Multiple blades included
- Still heavy enough to make you reconsider taking it hiking with you
What makes a good fillet knife?
I must admit I do enjoy collecting knives and having one for various situations is just something that I do. When I started fishing with my father at maybe 14, we kept and cleaned our catch of eastern brook trout, but you hardly needed a fillet knife for them.
Just a normal pocket knife would do, and we cooked them whole, not wanting to waste any of the meat.
When I began my journey into fly fishing, I had already slowed way down the amount of fish I was eating from my local waterways for multiple reasons. I had moved to mostly ultralight spinning gear, and fly fishing would be my next move.
One of the reasons that I abandoned spinning gear and moved to the fly rod was simply because I was mortally wounding trout by way of piercing their gills or worse with spinners attached to treble hooks.
You can imagine my frustration when, suddenly, I would have to race the clock to keep two fish I had inadvertently killed safely from the heat and get back to where I could clean and prepare them.
I started carrying a fillet knife so that I could make quick work of the cleanup job in the field–I had no plans on filleting trout with it.
The fillet knife I chose, and the one that would stay on my belt until I fully embraced catch and release, was a Rapala like the one reviewed above.
I snagged it at an auction for a low price, and it had been used so much that it was roughly five inches long. That knife performed numerous cleanup jobs with ease, but I also used it for darn near everything that you’re not supposed to use a knife for.
I cut monofilament and braid with it, I cleaned the knots off lures with it, I ate with it, I cut lodged treble hooks out of my clothes with it, cut bait with it, and so much more. I still have it, though I rarely take it fishing anymore.
I’ve gotten a lot better at not harming fish as they cross paths with me, and a pocket knife truly would suffice if I had to harvest a fish now.
Ask yourself what you need out of a fillet knife and buy accordingly. It doesn’t have to be the newest model on the market or electric with a million settings. Find yourself a purposeful, intuitive knife design that you like, and you’ll treasure it.
Electric Fillet Knives Vs. Traditional
A short note concerning electric and traditional fillet knives–filleting a fish requires practice, and while an electric knife makes this process easier (and more easily repeatable), that does not mean that it is necessary to use when you and your buddies are trying to do a fish fry.
Like all things related to or concerning fishing, being able to cut a great fillet takes effort and practice, but when you do master it, cleaning up your catch at the end of the day is light work.
Bubba Li-Ion Cordless Fillet Knife
Still, an electric fillet knife can make that repetitive and sometimes painful task of cleaning up panfish a whole lot easier. Save yourself from inevitably getting poked by the spines that are ever-present on perch, crappie, bluegill, etc, and wear a cut glove while using your electric knife. Work smarter! Not harder.
How to fillet a fish
How to sharpen a fillet knife
A Note from a Catch & Release Angler
I started fishing for eastern brook trout at a young age with my father. I wasn’t fly fishing, merely floating a worm, but hiking the same high-mountain streams that my grandmother fished with a cane pole with my father got a fly rod into my hand early.
These fishing trips always ended with trout for dinner, we always kept our limit, and my father prepared them whole afterward (no fillet knife needed).
Much has changed since then. I am more than fifteen years older than one, and now alarmingly dedicated to fly fishing and the philosophy of catch and release. My flies are almost always barbless, as small as I can manage, and I exercise the utmost caution when bringing a fish to hand, and then releasing it back into the water.
However, I still carry a fillet knife on my fishing trips, and the reason I do is that inevitably, there will be times that I wound a fish and it needs to be harvested out of mercy. This is obviously not my goal when I gear up for a day-long fishing trip, but it does happen.
Even though you too may be committed to catch and release, there are times when putting a wounded trout back in the water will only increase its suffering and furthermore, end up wasting this natural resource (although the raccoons will be delighted to find it along the banks).
To other CnR anglers, keep reading. You too might benefit from a good fillet knife on your wading belt, even if it ideally will never be used on the water.
Conclusion/Reeling it in
I’m a knife guy, I admit it. I like to have a belt knife or multi-tool by my side any time that I venture out to fish, hike, or just enjoy the outdoors. Knives are the one tool that has near endless applications for us humans, especially for anglers.
While the majority of my harvesting days are over (unless I finally manage to make it up north to Canada or Alaska) for those of us that participate in that part of the sport, a fillet knife is extremely necessary.
They’re good to keep on hand, even if you are committed to catch and release. Don’t let your day trip be cut short because you harmed a fish and need to get it out of the August sun!
Carry bags, a stringer, or some way to preserve a fish should you have to keep it. Any knife is better than no knife when you need one, and I hope you found a knife in this review that checks all the boxes, so you can buy with confidence.
Tight lines my friends!