Best Fillet Knife for 2021 – Top 8 Picks and Full Buying Guide
A fillet knife is not like a standard kitchen knife. Instead, it features an exceptionally sharp, flexible, and thin blade that allows for slicing effortlessly through meat and along the bones to reduce waste.
The best fillet knife is a must-have for anyone who is an avid angler or simply enjoys cooking meat and fish at home. Separating the flesh from bones, making sure no meat goes to waste is the main purpose of any good fillet knife.
With the right filleting knife, you would be able to remove scales, bones, and skin from fish and effortlessly debone beef, poultry, and wild game. Although filleting requires a dash of finesse, it is a really simple task to perform if you have the right tool.
You probably want to invest in a high-quality fillet knife that will last for a long time and be your loyal companion in the kitchen as well as on your outdoor adventures.
We will try our best to present you with the best fillet knives on the market and inform you what features to look for in them. So read on, and you will find a sharpening tutorial that will show you how to sharpen your knife the right way without the risk of damaging the blade.
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8 Best Fillet Knife Reviews
We present you with the top 8 filleting knives available on the market, all with ergonomic handles and high-quality steel.
1. Best Overall – Wüsthof Classic IKON Fillet Knife
If you are looking for the best fish fillet knife, look no further. Wüsthof filleting knives have a very thin and flexible blade used for deboning and filleting fish. The long narrow blade enables the knife to move smoothly along the fish’s backbone and easily removes the fish skin.
It is made to resist corrosion and dulling with the stainless steel, 7” long blade. It features a distinctive, double bolster design for professional-style heft, exceptional beauty, and balance. The handle is made of a highly durable synthetic material – POM (Polyoxymethylene), resisting discoloration and fading.
WHAT WE LIKED // Comfortable grip, Durable design, Extremely sharp
WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE // Price
2. Best for Saltwater Fish – KastKing Fillet Knife G4116
This KastKing Fillet Knife 6” fillet knife for saltwater fish is made of 4116 German steel (or Marine steel) with 14.50% of Chromium, which is great for saltwater use. It is corrosion-resistant, with a beautiful black finish. The curved blades have the perfect flexibility so that the knife will follow natural contours for perfect fillets; it is also ideal for thinner or more delicate cuts of meat such as fish or chicken.
The handle feels great in your hand, ensuring that you always have a solid grip on your knife. These handles also clean up easily and stay looking good longer.
WHAT WE LIKED // Price, Excellent flexibility, Comfortable handle
WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE // Nothing we could think of
3. Best Cordless – BUBBA Li-Ion Cordless Electric Fillet Knife
This Bubba Li-Lon Electric knife has an 8.5″ handle length and weighs 1.11 pounds. Non-slip grip handle offers outstanding grip security and provides ultimate knife control with a trigger guard. The dual-rivet blade design is coated in tin stainless steel.
Blades are removable for easy cleaning and stored in a special section of the zippered storage case. The handle features an LED battery life indicator to ensure you always have a functioning knife. Bubba knife set includes:
- 7” E-FLEX blade,
- 9” E-FLEX blade,
- 9” E-STIFF blade,
- 12” E-STIFF blade,
- Wall charger,
- (2) lithium-ion batteries,
- EVA case for storage and transport.
WHAT WE LIKED // Long battery life, Nice assortment of blades, Flexible blades
WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE // Some people find the large handle not comfortable to use
4. Best Budget-Friendly – TOPFORT Outdoors Fillet Knife
Each of the new Topfort knives features an ultra-sharp, stainless steel blade for the ultimate performance and durability. High-quality G4116 German stainless steel is razor-sharp, durable, rust-resistant, and exceptionally tough.
The handle is made of comfortable, high-quality polymer, with the comfortable design of the handle’s slip-resistant grooves. This 6” knife is not only sharp and but also has excellent flexibility, so the blade will follow natural contours for perfect fillets.
WHAT WE LIKED // Affordable, Thin blade, Multi-purpose knife
WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE // Not properly sharpened
5. Best Foldable – Outdoor Edge Fish & Bone Folding Fillet Knife
Outdoor Edge’s folding fillet knife is slim, lightweight, and easily fits in your pocket, backpack, tackle box, or fly fishing bag. The blade is 5″ razor-sharp and made of 440A stainless steel.
The double-molded Zytel handle features rubberized, non-slip TPR inserts for a secure, non-slip grip. It is perfect for filleting crappie, trout, bass, walleye, catfish, perch, salmon, and rockfish, or processing wild game including waterfowl, upland birds, and big game.
WHAT WE LIKED // Nice build quality, Folds well, Locks up tight
WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE // Needs initial sharpening
6. Best Electric Fillet Knife – Rapala Heavy-Duty
This Rapala Heavy Duty electric filet knife with a 7.5″ blade gives you more power resulting in incredible control when filleting even the biggest fish. You can easily cut through backbones and rib bones with twice the blade speed and three times the power of standard electric fillet knives.
Vibration is dampened via the custom advanced air flow body design, keeping the motor running smooth and cool. A relaxed, comfortable grip provides fatigue-free filleting. An 8-foot power cord gives you plenty of reach for working around the fillet table.
WHAT WE LIKED // Long-lasting motor, Long power cord, Blades move very fast
WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE // Nothing we could think of
7. Best for Salmon – DALSTRONG Fillet Knife
The salmon is a relatively large fish, so you will need large fillet knives to deal with it. This 6” long Delstrong blade is made of very high-quality Japanese high carbon steel. The handle is ergonomically designed, well-balanced, and allows for good hand control. It is also resistant to moisture, extreme cold, and high heat.
DALSTRONG fillet knife is slightly curved towards the tip of the blade; this feature will allow you to easily cut through joints but also through bones and in between the skin. The blade is extremely durable and will certainly stay sharp for a long time.
WHAT WE LIKED // Durable, Comfortable to hold, Extremely sharp
WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE // Requires constant cleaning to keep it pristine, Not too flexible
8. Best For Filleting Meat – Cipsir Meat and Fish Fillet Knife
This Cipsir Meat and Fish Fillet Knife amazing 7” long knife is made out of 4116 German MoV stainless steel, with a top-edge technology that allows the blade to be durable and sharp at the same time. This is important for your safety because stiff blades can snap during more complex procedures like deboning meat.
This meat knife will help you create fillets, debone and peel the grease or skin off the meat. Also, with the serrated part of the knife, you can easily clean fish scales or cut hard materials like frozen meat or fish.
Made of special synthetic alloys for a light handle and covered with a non-slip polymer thick coating and curved termination for the handle of this knife will offer you the benefit of a firm and comfortable grip, easy handling, and better precision of your cuts.
WHAT WE LIKED // Easy to hold, Cleans well, Maintains sharpness, Great price
WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE // Nothing we could think of
What is the best fillet knife? Let us answer this question in the buying guide below. Before your purchase, there are few features to pay attention to.
The two most common styles we encounter in filleting knives are Japanese and German (Scandinavian) styles. Together with similarities, there are some crucial differences:
- Features thinner blade and is lighter,
- Single-beveled blade (sharpened on only one side of the blade),
- The steel is often harder than German-style, making it sharper,
- It is more suitable for making clean slices and chopping due to the lower angle of the blade,
- Require more frequent sharpening to maintain the edge,
- Prone to breaking and chipping.
- The blade is thicker, so the knives are usually heavier,
- Double-beveled blade (sharpened on both sides of the blade),
- The steel is usually a little softer than the Japanese style;
- It is better suited for the rocking type of chopping because of the larger angle on the blade,
- It does not require frequent sharpening,
- Not so prone to chipping and breaking.
This choice comes down to manual vs. electric fillet knife. Manual knives allow for precision cutting, usually have a narrow blade often curved to ease precision cutting. For most people, a manual filet knife is sufficient to meet their needs.
Electric filet knife uses a motorized handle that powers two serrated blades that attach at the tip. The blades oscillate back and forth in opposite directions to create a sawing action. They are quick but harder to control – usually are better for professionals who need to fillet a large volume of meat.
You also have corded models – powered by electricity and cordless – powered by a battery.
Blade material – stainless steel is the standard material for blades. It is a durable, strong, and corrosion-resistant material. In addition, it does not stain and is easy to sharpen. Some blades are even made of high-carbon steel that has exceptional resilience and sharpness.
Blade flexibility – a flexible blade will give you less waste because it is easy to maneuver along with the pin bones and backbone. It makes your cut more efficient.
Blade retention and sharpness – a blade with great blade retention stays sharp for a long time. However, the most trustworthy knives need sharpening to keep your fillet blade’s sharp edge from time to time.
Blade thickness – the general rule of thumb is – the thinner the blade, the more flexible it is. So you will want a knife that is between 2.5mm and 3.5mm thick, allowing you to work the contour of the meat with laser-sharp precision.
Handle material – three main materials used in making handles are wood, laminate, and plastic.
Wood is great, natural material that feels amazing in hand. However, it tends to hold onto bacteria and pale over time. Laminate is a mix of wood and plastic – it is more durable and far easier to care for.
Plastic is the cheapest and the lightest material that is also easy to care about. Still, it tends to crack a little, especially when exposed to high temperatures. Some handles even have a rubber coating for non-slip hold.
Handle design – handle should be designed to be comfortable to hold and ergonomic, which reduces the risk of repetitive strain injury. Having a firm grip before you start cutting ensures a lot safer, easier, and quicker filleting process. A good balance is also important to avoid overexertion. In the end, it should feel right in your hand.
The blade length goes with the size of the fish being filleted. A smaller blade has higher flexibility, so it is suitable for smaller fish. Therefore, we have:
- Small blade length (from 4″ to 6″) is perfect for Mackerel, Trout, Walleye, Panfish, Perch, etc.
- Medium blade length (from 7” to 8”) is perfect for Salmon, Pink salmon, etc.
- Large blade length (from 9” to 12”) is perfect for Codfish, Tuna, Catfish, Halibut, etc.
The price of professional fillet knives is high – it starts at around $10 to several hundred dollars. It comes down to your personal preference and your budget. The price usually depends on the brand name, quality of the knife, durability, and finish. Electric knives are expensive, so if you want to invest in a quality one, expect to spend more.
Best Way to Sharpen a Fillet Knife
There are several methods of proper sharpening of your fish knives. Here are some of them:
Method 1: Sharpening rod
This method is quick and straightforward. You have to slide the knife over the rod, keeping the right angle in between the blade and the rod. You may find it necessary to slide the knife in the direction away from your body. This tool is also appropriate if your knife needs just a quick touch-up after cutting few fillets.
Method 2: Electric sharpener
By far the simplest way to sharpen a knife. Whatever model of the electric sharpener you have, the principles are the same – you have sharpening and honing slots.
You will only need to pull the blade through the sharpening slot several times until you reach the desired sharpness. The honing stage is used for bringing back the edge of the knife before it becomes dull. Therefore, it is best to get in the habit of using the honing slots after the extended use of the knife.
Method 3: Sharpening stone
A little bit trickier method – you need a little practice because using it in the wrong way can destroy the thin blade of your fillet knife. The desired results lie in the right angle and technique of the sharpening.
This is done by sliding the cutting edge of your knife over the sharpening stone like slicing butter. The back end of the blade will have to be positioned slightly above the sharpening stone to easily slide the knife forward and make the edge very sharp.
Optionally, you can use a coin to position your knife at the right angle and position your fingers above the blade to slide the knife over the stone without cutting yourself. The process is done on each side of the knife until the edges are sharp enough.
Method 4: Accusharp tool
Using this tool to sharpen your fillet knife is simple and quick. Put your knife on a flat workspace, with the suiting side facing upwards. You only need to place the ‘V’ shaped part of your accusharp tool on the knife and start sliding the tool over the blade. Repeat the process until you are satisfied with the sharpness.