10 Best Fishing Fillet Knife + Buying Guide

Updated on April 23, 2022 by

One addition to every fisherman’s tackle bag is a fishing fillet knife. There are some great products available on the market that will keep you fed for years to come.

I have put together a review of the top 10 fillet knives available at the moment, including some kits and electric knives.

I have also written a buyer’s guide at the end to give you an understanding of the key factors that should be taken into account, like blade material and length.

If you decide on one of the fishing fillet knives listed here then please let us know in the comments below – we strive to deliver enough information for you to make an informed decision.

I have filleted thousands of fish over my decades of angling and there are certain features of a knife for fishing that I really care about. I have ranked these products based on my own personal experience and insights.

A fishing knife is just one of many essential pieces of equipment you will need as an angler.

Quick Summary – Best Fishing Fillet Knife

Preview
BUBBA Li-Ion Cordless Electric Fillet Knife with Non-Slip Grip Handle, 4 Ti-Nitride S.S. Coated...
Rapala NK03039-BRK Fish N Fillet, 7"
Kershaw 9” Curved Fillet Knife (1242GEX), Fixed 9-in 420J2 Stainless Steel Blade, Corrosion...
Length
7", 9" or 12" Models
4" or 6" Models
9" Model
Material
TiN Stainless Steel
Stainless Steel
Stainless Steel
Features
2 x Lithium Ion batteries, EVA storage case
Birch Wooden Handle, Leather Sheath
Co-polymer rubber grip, ABS sheath
Preview
BUBBA Li-Ion Cordless Electric Fillet Knife with Non-Slip Grip Handle, 4 Ti-Nitride S.S. Coated...
Length
7", 9" or 12" Models
Material
TiN Stainless Steel
Features
2 x Lithium Ion batteries, EVA storage case
View on Amazon
Best Overall
Preview
Rapala NK03039-BRK Fish N Fillet, 7"
Length
4" or 6" Models
Material
Stainless Steel
Features
Birch Wooden Handle, Leather Sheath
View on Amazon
Preview
Kershaw 9” Curved Fillet Knife (1242GEX), Fixed 9-in 420J2 Stainless Steel Blade, Corrosion...
Length
9" Model
Material
Stainless Steel
Features
Co-polymer rubber grip, ABS sheath
View on Amazon

Fishing Fillet Knife Buyer’s Guide

There are a lot of different features available on each of these knives and it can be difficult to figure out what means what. I have put together a simple buyer’s guide to help you to understand the terminology and understand exactly what you will need for your own situation. This will allow you to pick the perfect fishing fillet knife that you serve you for years to come.

I have also added this video on instructions on how to fillet fish so that you can see exactly what it entails and how the knife behaves.

Blade Length

The size of the blade that you require really depends on what species of fish you are targeting and the expected size.

If you are going after big ocean fish like Tuna then you will need to get one of the longest blades available, which are generally in the 9 to 12-inch range.

If you are targeting smaller freshwater fish then you could consider a cheaper 5 to 7-inch blade.

And anything in between like salmon or trout would suit a 6 to 9-inch blade.

Think about how versatile you want your blade to be. If you are just going to be using it to cut up baitfish then you don’t need to waste your money on a large blade.

There are also kits of blades from 5 to 9 inches so that you can use the perfect blade for whatever fish you have caught.

What Size Fillet Knife for Different Fish Species:

  • Baitfish – 4-6 in blade
  • Freshwater Panfish – 5-7 in blade
  • Medium Size Fish – 6-9 in blade
  • Large Saltwater Fish – 9-12 in blade
My personal Scanpan fishing knife that I use for baitfish
My personal Scanpan fishing knife that I use for baitfish

Blade Material

Depending on where you will be fishing, your knife will often be contacting water, both fresh and salt, fish guts, etc. Making sure it is durable and will not rust is crucial to getting value for money and making sure it lasts a long time.

The most common blade material is stainless steel. This is highly rust-resistant and will not corrode even when kept in humid conditions.

You can also get different grades of stainless steel – high carbon stainless steel has different properties regarding hardness and blade flexibility.

Blade Flexibility

Depending on the fish species you are filleting, the flexibility of your knife is crucial. This allows the tip to move around the backbone and pin bones. This allows you to recover more meat and get larger fillets.

The more flexible the blade the more likely it is to snap as well – so you need to make a balanced decision about what suits your personal requirements the most.

The flex of the blade is dictated by the material it is made from. Softer metal blades are often more flexible but they don’t hold their edge for very long. Harder metal blades are not as flexible but stay sharper for longer.

German vs Japanese Design

There are two common designs for fish fillet knives that can be split into German and Japanese styles.

German designs are often heavier and thicker with edges on both sides of the blade (double-beveled). The steel is often softer and is better suited for copping.

Japanese designs are lighter and thinner with a single edge. The steel is harder which keeps the edge sharper for longer and is better suited for slicing.

Protective Sheath

Keeping your knife sharp is important to make sure it will be functional for a long time and the most common way to damage your blade is to have it bouncing around the bottom of your boat. Getting a high-quality protective sheath is a great way to keep your blade sharp.

A lot of knives come with their own sheath, but they are of varying qualities from leather to plastic to fabric. Make sure you don’t overlook the sheath or you may need to purchase a replacement as soon as you see it.

Sharpener

Finally, the last thing to consider is the sharpener – some knives come with dedicated sharpeners which might not be of the same quality as the knife. If you are going to be using your knife a lot then you should consider a dedicated sharpener.

If the knife you select doesn’t come with its own sharpener then understand that this is a separate purchase you will need to make in the future and is an additional cost.

Handle Material

The most common materials on the market are either plastic or rubber, but you can also get wooden handles. This impacts both the aesthetics of the knife but also how non-slip it is. The last thing you want is to slip when your blade hits a bone and cut your hand.

We prefer non-slip rubber grips. They are easy to clean, highly durable, and look great.

Handle Shape

Always make sure you select a knife handle with a molded grip (or bolster) – this is often called a pistol grip or trigger guard. This protects your fingers from getting cut if you slip.

Also, consider the size of the handle for your hands – if you have smaller hands then a thick, long handle can be uncomfortable and unwieldy. Being comfortable while holding your knife is important especially if you are filleting large numbers of large fish at the end of your fishing trip.

10 Best Fishing Fillet Knives

1. Rapala Fish ‘N Fillet Knife 

Features

  • Birch varnished, wooden handle
  • Stainless steel blade
  • Genuine leather sheath
  • Single-stage sharpener included
  • Available in 4″ or 6″ blade lengths

My Impressions

This is THE knife for filleting fish. There have been over 40 million sold over the years. I’m sure you have seen them before held by other fishermen. This is truly a five-star product.

This knife comes in a few different sizes, like 4 inches or 6 inches, and also comes with a small knife sharpener. If you are going to be filleting a lot of fish then you might want to purchase a dedicated knife sharpener.

It also comes with a leather sheath to protect it when not in use or during transport.

Pros

  • Available in 4 inches or 6 inch
  • This is the most popular knife on the market
  • Includes an easy to use sharpening tool

Cons

  • You may want to get a dedicated knife sharpener

2. Bubba Tapered Flex Fillet Fishing Knife

Features

  • 7″ blade with 13″ overall length
  • Non-slip grip with trigger guard
  • Safety guards for protection from both the blade and fish spines
  • 8Cr13MoV super-thin + Ti-Nitride  coated, rust-resistant blade
  • Sheath with a belt loop

My Impressions

The main thing I like about the Bubba Blade is the handle. Not only does it look gorgeous, but it also has safety guards which are pretty uncommon but are extremely useful – I’m sure anyone who has cut their fingers would agree.

The 7-inch blade is slightly shorter than ideal for filleting larger fish.

The blade is also rust-resistant so that it will last for longer. There are only a few 5-star products available on the market for any category, and this is one of them. Certainly a recommendation from me.

Pros

  • Non-slip grip
  • Comes with a sheath with a belt loop
  • Safety guards to protect your fingers

Cons

  • More expensive than other alternatives

3. Morakniv Fishing Comfort Fillet Knife

ON SALE $4.41 OFF

Features

  • 12C27 Stainless steel blade
  • Available in 3.5″ or 6.1″ blade length
  • High-friction handle that is non-slip
  • 3.5 oz net weight
  • Slotted plastic sheath with two belt clips

My Impressions

The Morakniv fishing knife has an apt name – comfort. Notice the shape of the blade’s handle which fits comfortably into your hand.

The lack of safety guards can be an issue – if you unexpectedly hit a bone, then make sure you don’t lose your grip and cut your fingers. The non-slip handle attempts to minimize this risk.

I personally prefer knives to be at 7″ at least to fillet larger fish, so this model might be a little shorter than you will need.

The plastic sheath is of a lower quality than some of the leather alternatives. 

Pros

  • Stainless steel blade for less risk of rust
  • Comes with a plastic sheath
  • Non-slip handle

Cons

  • Only up to 6.1-inch blade might be too small for big fish
  • No safety guards

4. Bubba Li-Ion Cordless Electric Fillet Knife

ON SALE $80.84 OFF

Features

  • Includes 7″ flexible blade, 9″ flexible blade, 9″ stiff blade, 12″ stiff blade
  • Durable dual-rivet blade design coated in TiN stainless steel
  • Removable blades for easy cleaning and storage
  • LED battery life indicator
  • Includes wall charge, 2 x lithium-ion batteries, and premium EVA storage case
  • Non-slip grip handle with trigger guard
Bubba Li-Ion Cordless Electric Fillet Knife with Non-Slip Grip Handle

My Impressions

Another alternative to the classic filleting knife is an electric alternative – and the best one available is certainly the Bubba Li-ion electric knife.

If you have never used an electric filleting knife before, keep in mind the fillet may not be as neat as you are used to, but it will certainly be faster. If you have a lot of filleting to do (congratulations!), then this is a real option.

It comes with a spare battery and 4 blades, as well as a beautifully stylish design and non-slip handle. You can fillet a lot of fish with this model!

It comes with 4 blades from 7″ to 12″ with either flexible or stiff options depending on your style and the species of fish you are filleting.

Pros

  • Comes with 2 batteries and a charger
  • Includes 7″, 9″, and 12″ blades

Cons

  • Electric knives cut differently from a manual knife – this might not suit your needs

5. Outdoor Edge ReelFlex 3 Pak Kit

Features

  • Includes three fillet knives in 6″, 7.5″, and 9.5″ lengths
  • 4116 stainless steel blades
  • Includes two-stage carbide/ceramic sharpener
  • Non-slip TPE handle
  • Hard storage case for safe and secure storage

My Impressions

If you are switching between species, you may need multiple knives. A 7.5″ blade might be too long for the morning’s fish but too short for the evening’s species. In which case you will need more than one blade.

The Outdoor Edge kit comes with three blades that will suit all of your filleting needs. It also comes with a two-stage sharpening system – this is not a throwaway gimmick. This will actually work to keep your blades with a razor’s edge.

The blade’s handle has a small finger guard which along with the non-stick material should protect your fingers from any risk of a cut.

The hard storage case is also well designed to protect your knives from nicks and bumps as well as water damage.

Pros

  • 9.5-inch blade can fillet large fish
  • 3 blades are suitable for any size of fish
  • Comes with a sharpener

Cons

  • Takes up more room than a single knife
  • The case is not waterproof

6. Kershaw Clearwater 9-In Fillet Knife

Features

  • 9″ 420J2 stainless steel blade
  • ABS sheath with a belt holster
  • Co-polymer rubber grip with safety guard
  • Softer blade steel can flex without breaking

My Impressions

This 9-inch blade is suitable for even large ocean fish, like Tuna or Mackerel. It offers flex without breaking which is a requirement of all fish fillet knives to move around bones and give you better maneuverability. 

The stainless steel blade will give rust resistance and prevent corrosion in the long term. The key to value for money in knives is durability and to last a long time.

This blade does not come with a sharpening device, so you will have to look for a separate purchase to keep it at a razor-sharp edge. It does need to be sharpened frequently, which is a common problem for stainless steel blades.

Pros

  • Long 9-inch blade
  • Well suited for larger fish

Cons

  • Requires sharpening frequently

7. OUTDOOR EDGE Fish Fillet Knife

Features

  • The folding knife that can fit into your pocket, backpack, or tackle box
  • 5″ 440A stainless steel blade
  • 11.3″ total length
  • Molded Zytel handle with rubberized, non-slip grip
  • Fabric sheath

My Impressions

One alternate option for a fillet knife is a folding pocket knife. While this won’t give the best performance, it can be a multi-purpose option. The Outdoor Edge knife has a 5″ blade which can only be used for filleting smaller fish.

There is no safety guard on this knife so you will have to rely on the non-slip grip to protect your fingers.

The stainless steel blade will be rust-resistant and will help to last longer.

We generally recommend a dedicated filleting knife, but if this doesn’t suit your purposes then consider the folding knife option.

Pros

  • The folding knife doesn’t take up much room
  • Comes with a fabric sheath

Cons

  • 5-inch blade not suitable for large fish
  • No safety guards

8. Angler’s Choice Porta-Fillet Kit

Features

  • Made in the USA
  • 3 knives up to 8″ blade length
  • Includes knife sharpener steel and cutting board
  • Contained within hard plastic case

My Impressions

The Anglers’ Choice portable filleting kit is a great kit containing three knives within a hard plastic case. 

The largest knife is 8 inches in blade length, which should suit most purposes, but is shorter than the 9 inches in the other kits.

The non-stick handle and small safety guard will help to protect your fingers.

It also comes with a knife steel to give your blade edge a top-up in between uses. It also uniquely comes with a cutting board which often comes in handy to protect your boat from cuts and fish guts.

Pros

  • Contains everything you need to fillet fish
  • Made in the USA

Cons

  • Takes up more room than a single knife
  • The largest knife is 8 inches which are smaller than other kits

9. Uncle Henry Small Fillet Knife

ON SALE $7.49 OFF

Features

  • 5.3″ 7Cr17 Stainless steel blade
  • Staglon handle slabs with nickel silver bolsters, brass pins, and lanyard hole
  • Includes brown leather belt sheath
  • 0.25 pounds in weight

My Impressions

The Uncle Henry small fish filleting knife is perfect for gutting smaller species of fish. It is certainly too small for ocean-going fish but is perfect for inland, freshwater species. It is only 5.3″ long, so keep that in mind when making your decision.

The blade is stainless steel which will be rust-resistant and protect it from corrosion. The blade is stiffer than I would generally prefer which means that it doesn’t adjust around the flesh as easily.

It also comes with a quality brown leather sheath that can be looped onto your belt for easy access.

There are also minimal safety guards, so be careful when filleting if you unexpectedly hit a bone.

Pros

  • Comes with a leather sheath
  • Corrosion-resistant stainless steel blade

Cons

  • The knife blade is not long enough for larger fish
  • The stiff blade can be difficult to fillet with

10. Kershaw 9.5-Inch Narrow Fillet Knife

ON SALE $11.02 OFF

Features

  • 420J stainless steel 9.5″ flexible blade
  • Satin-finished applied for an attractive blade design
  • Durable nylon handle reinforced with glass threads
  • Plastic blade sheath to protect from bumps

My Impressions

The final blade in our recommendation list is the Kershaw narrow filleting knife. At 9.5″ long, this is one of the longest blades available and it also offers a lot of flex to help navigate around the fillet edges and spine.

The stainless steel is also very corrosion resistant and will last longer. The plastic sheath is probably lower quality than some of the leather options. 

This knife doesn’t come with a sharpener and the stainless steel will require frequent sharpening.

Pros

  • Long 9.5-inch blade suitable for large fish
  • Stainless steel corrosion-resistant blade

Cons

  • Doesn’t come with a sharpener

Conclusion

Picking a filleting knife is a very personal decision for all anglers as it is only used when you are successful. There are some great guides available on the internet to help you to learn more before you make your decision.

Our recommendation for the average American angler is a high carbon stainless steel blade between 6 and 9 inches in length, with a soft rubber grip in the Japanese design that comes with a protective sheath.

I would love to hear which knife you decided on – just leave a comment below.

Last update on 2022-05-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Photo of author

Russ Egan

Russ is an avid fisherman. He has fished all over the world for more than two decades, primarily for saltwater game fish but also for local trophy fish. Russ writes reviews for all of his fishing gear to help others achieve their own fishing goals. His favorite reel is a Shimano Curado Baitcaster. His dream is to catch a Black Marlin.

Why Trust Me?

Expert Fisherman Icon

7
Internal Fishing Experts

With over 108 years of combined angling experience.

Products Tried and Tested Icon

576
Products Assessed & Reviewed

From this we picked only the best performing, most durable products to recommend.

Top Product Recommendation Icon

52
Top Products Recommended

Everything from rods, reels, tools, and tackle to help you catch more fish.