A Cut Above The Rest

2014 Fillet Knife Buyers Guide

FSF Staff February 1, 2014

While the satisfaction of beating a powerful predator and releasing it to fight another day is indeed rewarding, there’s not much better or tastier than a fresh fish dinner. However, just like you need the appropriate tools to achieve continued success on the water, it’s equally important you choose the proper tool at the fillet table for the particular task at hand. Whether you’re steaking a 200 lb. swordfish, slicing bonito for belly strips or skinning snapper fillets for your favorite fried fish dinner, quality knives are essential tools every fisherman must have. Even with just a little experience filleting fish, you will quickly learn that a sharp, comfortable, and durable knife does most of the work for you.

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Photo: istockphoto.com/spvvk

Fillet knives come in many shapes and sizes, and we have yet to find one knife that does it all. If you choose the wrong type of fillet knife for a certain application you’ll not only risk injury, but you will be limited by the tool in your hand and will likely waste valuable meat.

While it is not always the case, there is generally a respected cost/quality tradeoff no matter the product, and when purchasing a fillet knife you get what you pay for. With that being said, if you maintain and periodically sharpen your knives they will provide years of reliable service. Abuse, neglect and use your knives for acts other than their intended purpose and they will soon be rendered useless. A dull knife with a rusty blade and broken tip is especially aggravating when you need it most.

No matter what knives you choose, blade quality is everything and determines the product’s corrosion resistance, edge durability and ease of sharpening. Understand that there’s not a perfect blade composition that’s superior in all categories. Most manufacturers utilize stainless steel or a blend of carbon steel for the blade material to ensure their products withstand constant moisture and contaminants associated with the harsh saltwater environment. While stainless steel blades offer increased corrosion resistance, high carbon variations are easier to sharpen, although they require greater care.

Ultimately, the choice is yours and we hope the following information will assist you in making the correct purchase.

Bubba Blade

9″ Tapered Flex

Weight: 6.2 oz.
Overall Length: 15 1/4″
Blade Length: 9″
Blade Material: Teflon Coated 8CR13MOV High Carbon Stainless Steel
Standard Sheath: Black Synthetic
MSRP: $54.95
bubbablade.com

Of all the knives featured in this editorial, none replicate the comfort and non-slip grip of the Bubba Blade’s ergonomically marvelous handle. With extra large finger guards, well-placed fingertip holds and an innovative finger trigger, users can be certain their grip won’t ever slip. The Bubba Blade is manufactured with full tang construction, meaning the blade runs throughout the length of the entire handle. Manufactured from a single piece of 8CR13MOV steel, the Bubba Blade 9″ Tapered Flex fillet knife is incredibly sharp and features a high quality, black synthetic sheath with integrated belt loop and safety strap. With a decrease in the amount of nickel, 8CR13MOV is a top-of-the-line Chinese steel and has slightly more carbon for hardness and wear resistance. While the blade is easy to sharpen, after filleting a few fish you’ll notice the Teflon coating will rub off and reveal the bare high carbon steel, but even after a few seasons of rigorous use the knife won’t show any signs of corrosion. This versatile knife is our favorite and a solid choice for any fillet table.

 

Buck

Silver Creek Fillet Knife

Weight: bubbablade.com 5.3 oz.
Overall Length: 14 1/2″
Blade Length: 9 5/8″
Blade Material: Titanium Coated 420J2 Stainless Steel
Standard Sheath: Injection molded
MSRP: $45.00
buckknives.com

Buck has been in the cutlery business for over 100 years and their continued craftsmanship through evolving technologies proves these knives are meeting the demands adventurous outdoorsmen desire. With a long blade ideal for skinning and filleting bony and scaly fish like snapper and grouper, the Silver Creek Fillet Knife is well balanced and feels like a high-end piece of cutlery. The fillet knife has a flexible blade and bends as it follows the bone structure and contour of fish. The 9 5/8″ blade is made from titanium coated 420J2 stainless steel and features a large stainless steel finger guard. While 420J2 steel is known to be inexpensive, it has qualities that are highly desirable. With a high ease of resharpening, Buck fillet knives are extremely durable and nearly 100-percent impervious to corrosion. This is due to the low carbon and high chrome content that makes this material ideal for saltwater environments. The package also includes an injection molded plastic sheath with integrated belt clip. We found this knife especially useful for filleting large king mackerel. The extended blade length and perfect balance of flexibility and firmness facilitate one clean swipe down the entire length of a smoker king.

Victorinox

12″ Cimeter Knife

Weight: http://buckknives.com8.7 oz.
Overall Length: 17 1/2″
Blade Length: 12”
Blade Material: High Carbon Stainless Steel
Standard Sheath: N/A
MSRP: $56.99
victorinox.com

Expertly crafted in Switzerland, Victorinox cimeter knives are true works of art and preferred by culinary professionals around the globe. Formerly known as Forschner, a trusted brand angling experts are very familiar with, Victorinox knives feature handles that are hygienic, dishwasher safe and slip resistant. You’ll be happy to know only the name has changed and this quality blade is as good as it has ever been. Shaped from a cold rolled piece of steel and then ground, tempered, and sharpened, the Victorinox cimeter is conically ground for a wider breaking point with less risk of blade fracturing and less resistance for ease of cutting. Hand finished to a razor sharp edge, all Victorinox knives feature a lifetime warranty. When you need to get through big fish like tuna, shark and swordfish, you need the right tool or you’ll completely butcher the meat. You may think a massive 12″ blade resembling a machete more than a carving utensil is overkill, but it makes the job of steaking swordfish or big wahoo, which require a stiff blade to make precise cuts, much easier. If you enjoy chasing big game, you need to wrap your hand around a Victorinox 12″ cimeter.

Titan Knife

8″ Fillet Knife

Weight: 4.0 oz.
Overall Length: 13 3/4″
Blade Length: 8″
Blade Material: Grade 5 Titanium
Standard Sheath: Black Nylon
MSRP: $59.95
titanknifetech.com

Unlike the rest of the knives featured in this review, Titan Knife utilizes 100-percent Aerospace Grade 5 Titanium for its blade material. The unique design incorporates high quality materials and building techniques derived from traditional Japanese samurai sword manufacturing. Combining ancient traditions, blade geometry, and a specialized coating results in a super sharp fillet knife that retains sharpness for superior slicing. The concept applies a hard coating on one edge and a softer coating on the other side. Through continued use, these knives retain their original sharpness. The visible pattern on the cutting edge is known as a hamon blade pattern. This ancient swordsmithing technique results in a blade that is differentially hardened. The 8” Titan Knife is incredibly flexible, super sharp right out of the box and ready to be put to the test. It is one of the only knives that can be customized with a name or logo imprinted on the blade and also comes standard with a nylon sheath with integrated belt loop and hook/loop safety strap. With a disproportionately large handle, this knife would be a solid fit for anglers with extra large hands.

Dexter-Russell

6″ Narrow Curved Boning Knife

Weight: 4.2 oz.
Overall Length: 12″
Blade Length: 6″
Blade Material: DexSteel, High Carbon Steel
Standard Sheath: titanknifetech.comN/A
MSRP: $24.85
dexter1818.com

Since 1818, Dexter-Russell has been producing trusted cutlery with quality materials and unparalleled workmanship. While top chefs have their own category of specialized Dexter-Russell knives, die-hard anglers rely on the SofGrip Series that feature a white, firm rubber handle that is not only slip free, but offers an extremely ergonomic grip that matches the contours of the hand. Handmade in the USA, the 6″ Narrow Curved Boning Knife is one of our favorites and features a flexible curved blade that allows users to make delicate and precise cuts. All Dexter-Russell knives within the SofGrip Series are manufactured with DexSteel high carbon, high alloy stainless steel, which is a proprietary blend of elements that results in enhanced sharpness with greater edge holding capabilities, improved corrosion resistance, and ease of sharpening. With 200 years of cutlery experience, it’s no surprise Dexter-Russell manufactures the most trusted and desirable fishing knives used by seasoned professionals who need a reliable edge day in and day out. This knife simply feels right in your hand and is ideal for a wide array of duties including quartering hefty tuna.

Kershaw

8″ Breaking Knife

Weight: 4.8 oz.
Overall Length: 13 1/2″
Blade Length: 8″
Blade Material: 420J2 Stainless Steel
Standard Sheath: Injection‑Molded Blade Protector
MSRP: $27.95
kershawknives.com

Well respected by outdoor enthusiasts, Kershaw Knives are known for being razor sharp right out of the box. Part of their line of Pro-Grade Specialty Fish & Game Knives, the 8″ Breaking Knife is built to handle medium size fish and game and is a convenient size and shape many users prefer. Breaking knives are designed to be stiffer than traditional fillet knives and are designed to break down big, bony fish. The curved blade of this breaking knife is ideal for a full range of motion when making deep cuts through thick game fish. It is also an excellent bait knife for a variety of uses, especially when duties include cutting numerous buckets of fresh chunk baits. The Kershaw 8″ Breaking Knife comes complete with its own injection-molded blade protector that helps circulate air and eliminate trapped moisture. Kershaw Knives are backed by a Limited Lifetime Warranty against manufacturing defects, which includes free sharpening if you choose to send in your knife for service. The Kershaw Breaking Knife is an excellent value and a worthy tool every offshore angler should have in their arsenal.

Rapala

8″ Classic Serrated Fillet Knife

Weight: 3.9 oz.
Overall Length: 12 3/4″
Blade Length: 7 3/4″
Blade Material: Stainless Steel
Standard Sheath: Easy Clean Open Sheath
MSRP: $18.99
rapala.com

While Rapala is best known for producing some of the most productive artificial lures on the planet, their fillet knives also come from a lineage of quality craftsmanship. The Rapala classic wooden handled Fish ‘N Fillet Knife is the most popular in the world with over 40 million sold to date. More recently, Rapala’s 8″ Classic Serrated Fillet Knife is a fantastic all-around tool for every angler. This knife effortlessly slices and dices on any cutting board, making quick work of fish after fish with its pronounced drop point tip and sturdy, serrated stainless steel blade. Preferred by many charter captains and saltwater anglers in-the-know, Rapala’s white comfort grip handle resists heat and fatigue and offers users both comfort and a secure hold…we just wish the index finger guard was a little larger. With an affordable price tag and an easy-clean open sheath, and the fact that various jobs on the fillet table require a serrated blade, this is a worthy investment that gets the job done for less than $20!

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