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If you’re fishing for the pan, a filleting knife is an essential addition to your tackle bag. There are several different styles to choose from, including folding knives designed to save space; multi-purpose knives that fulfill several different functions and electric knives, which make filleting large fish less of an arduous task. Whatever style you go for, there are some things that all good fish filleting knives should have in common, including a corrosion-resistant stainless steel blade and a non-slip grip. The best fish filleting knives listed below offer both in addition to their own unique features, so read on to see which one you should bring along on your next fishing expedition.
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Rapala Fish ’n Fillet Superflex Knife
The Rapala Fish ’n Fillet Superflex Knife is ideal for anyone who views fish filleting as an art form. Its razor-sharp, hand-ground blade is made by Marttini, the premium blade makers of respected tackle brand Rapala. It is extra thin, allowing for unparalleled flexibility and control; while the PTFE non-stick coating means that fillets fall away from the blade rather than sticking and affecting the fluidity of the cut. Made of stainless steel, the blade is designed to withstand repeated exposure to saltwater and fish blood.
Despite its slimness, the knife is exceptionally strong. The full tang runs the length of the reinforced baked birch handle, which features a polished brass ferrule and cross-hatching to keep your hands from slipping when wet. The knife’s superior aesthetic is complemented by a color-matched, hand-tooled genuine leather sheath, complete with a loop for attaching it to your belt. Choose a four-inch, six-inch, or 7.5-inch blade length to suit the size of your target fish species and revel in the knife’s amazingly affordable price-tag.
Best for Small Fish: Berkley Four-Inch XCD Fillet Knife
If you routinely fish for smaller species such as crappie or bluegill, there’s no sense in wasting money and tackle box space on a knife with an oversized blade. The Berkley Four-Inch XCD Fillet Knife is expressly designed for handling smaller fish, and for making finicky, close quarter cuts as easy as possible. Its semi-flex blade offers just the right blend of strength and maneuverability, with a full tang construction and a corrosion-resistant composite coating that makes it suitable for fresh and saltwater fishermen. And it's crafted from stainless steel.
The ergonomic co-molded handle is particularly useful, as it affords a secure grip even when your hands are slippery with fish slime, and helps to reduce fatigue on days when you meet your catch limit. Your purchase includes a protective sheath with a clever thumb lock release that prevents the blade from being unsheathed accidentally. As well as helping to prolong the knife’s sharpness, this feature also protects you from injury when reaching blindly into your tackle bag.
Best for Big Fish: Bubba Blade 12-Inch Curved Fillet Knife
This extra-large knife features a 12-inch, full tang blade made of high-carbon stainless steel. It pairs durability with exceptional edge retention and is easy to re-sharpen when necessary. A titanium-bonded, non-stick coating helps fillets to slide off easily and prevents rusting and pitting. If you’re a fan of finesse cuts, you’ll also appreciate the fact that despite its size, the blade has some flex.
The patented no-slip handle is made from a thermoplastic polymer wrapped in rubber and includes a safety guard that protects your hand from the blade and the sharp spines of certain fish species. A trigger grip allows you to put all your weight behind the cut when slicing through thick scales, meat, and bone, while thumb and finger pads help you to achieve total control. A good quality sheath is a must for a knife of this size and sharpness, and this one comes with a custom carrier complete with a belt loop.
Best Folding: Buck Knives Silver Creek Folding Fillet Knife
The Silver Creek Folding Fillet Knife from Buck Knives features a 6.5-inch blade perfect for processing medium-sized fish. It also folds to just 7.25 inches, allowing you to save space in your tackle box or bag without compromising on blade size. For fishing expeditions that require you to travel light, you can even slip the knife safely into your pocket since the handle acts as a built-in sheath when closed. The blade is made from titanium-coated stainless steel for excellent corrosion resistance. It’s also easy to sharpen and relatively flexible.
The blade and handle are separated by a stainless steel safety guard, while the rubberized handle features non-slip grooves that prevent your hands from slipping when exerting additional pressure for tough cuts. Use the large lanyard loop to hang the hook where it’s easily accessible, either on your boat or by your cleaning station back on land. Though the knife is slightly more expensive than some of the other entries on this list, its lifetime warranty makes the investment worthwhile.
Best Multi-Purpose: Morakniv Fishing Comfort Scaler Knife
Available in 3.9-inch or 5.9-inch blade configurations, the Morakniv Fishing Comfort Scaler Knife is a great option for those in search of a filleting knife that can also act as a general all-rounder. Its double blade features a straight cutting edge on one side for filleting and carving and a serrated edge on the other for descaling your catch. Although the blade’s stiffness means that it’s not as suited to finesse filleting as some of the other knives on this list, it performs well on other fishing-related tasks, such as cutting rope, dispatching fish and preparing bait.
The blade is made from high-quality steel chosen for its corrosion resistance, its hardness and the superior sharpness of its edges. It’s paired with an ergonomic handle that ensures your safety with a patterned high-friction grip. An easy-clean plastic sheath with two interchangeable belt clips completes the package, and your purchase is protected by a one-year manufacturer’s warranty.
Best Electric: Rapala Heavy Duty Electric Fillet Knife
Electric filleting knives reduce strain and provide the power needed to maintain control for precision cuts. Rapala’s Heavy Duty Electric Fillet Knife is specially designed for processing large game fish such as walleye and salmon, offering two times the blade speed and three times the power of standard electric filleting knives. Plug it into a 110 V outlet and use it to cut effortlessly through tough scales, rib bones, and backbones. An eight-foot power cord allows you the freedom to move around the filleting table to work your catch from all angles.
The serrated 7.5-inch blade is sized to suit medium to large fish and can be safely cleaned in the dishwasher. The body’s advanced airflow system keeps the motor running cool and smooth, and also helps to reduce jarring vibrations. In fact, comfort is a signature aspect of this knife, which also features an ergonomic comfort grip designed especially to minimize fatigue. The knife and its long-lasting motor are backed by a one-year warranty.
Best Budget: Elk Ridge Fillet Knife
The Elk Ridge Fillet Knife is only under $10, making it ideal for those on a budget or occasional fishermen who don’t want to spend big bucks on something they’ll rarely use. This high-quality blade measures almost seven inches and is made from corrosion-resistant stainless steel. With a full-length tang, it’s built for strength and longevity.
The laminated wood handle features a pre-drilled hole perfect for attaching a lanyard so that you can hang your knife on your boat or fishing trolley. Measuring 12.25 inches in total, it comes with a sturdy black nylon sheath, complete with a safety strap to hold the knife securely in place.
Best Set: Angler’s Choice Porta-Fillet Kit
When a single knife won’t suffice (for example, if you target all kinds of fish and can’t decide what size blade to go for), consider buying a set instead. The Angler’s Choice Porta-Fillet Kit includes a large filleting knife with an eight-inch blade perfect for big game fish; a medium filleting knife with a versatile six-inch blade and a combination knife with a 5.25-inch doubled-edged serrated blade for descaling. All three blades boast a comfort grip and long-lasting stainless steel construction.
The set also includes a sharpening tool so you can keep your knives in perfect condition, as well as a removable Dura-Tuff cutting board. All of these items are contained within a high-impact, double-clip carrying case with molded pockets that keep each piece secure whether they’re stored in the back of your vehicle or on a boat in rough seas. Pack this compact set in a backpack or tackle bag for your next multi-day fishing adventure.