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15 Best Fillet Knives For All Species: Compare & Save

A fillet knife should be a fisherman’s best friend, not worst enemy. There’s nothing more frustrating than battling a hard-earned fish for its fillets while wielding a mediocre blade – you owe it to both the fish you harvest, as well as yourself to utilize a fillet knife that’s nothing less than highly effective.

Our top list of fillet knives for all species will help you to determine the best fillet knife for your angling style and targeted species, and then point you toward the top options. Tight lines and full freezers from all of us here at Heavy!

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Selecting The Right Fillet Knife For You

Whether you're new to the world of angling or you consider yourself to be both a master fisherman and chef, there are a few details to consider when purchasing a new fillet knife.

The main details you should be carefully considering are as follows:

Blade Material: There are lots of options available when it comes to the blade material of fillet knives. Typically, stainless steel is the preferred option due to its anti-corrosive properties and willingness to be effectively resharpened.  

There are varying qualities of stainless steel (and other steel types) so be mindful of what the blade is made out of before purchasing. Saltwater anglers, especially, will require a particularly rust-resistant knife due to the corrosiveness of seawater.

Bottom line - better steel equals a longer-lived, easier to maintain knife, so it's worth springing for a higher quality option if you're frequently using your fillet knife and need it to hold up flawlessly!

Blade Length: This one's fairly self-explanatory. Bigger fish require a longer blade, so don't short yourself if you're cleaning larger species! Alternatively, it can be a pain to try and fineness a fillet off of a tiny fish using a longer fillet knife.

We recommend a 6-inch knife for smaller species like panfish and a 7.5-inch knife for small to mid-sized gamefish fish such as trout and bass. A smaller knife allows for tighter angles, so don't buy big if you're planning to clean smaller fish.

An 8 or 9-inch knife for larger species like pike, salmon, striped bass, and bluefish is a great choice that will allow you to better span the width of the fish. 

If you're filleting and processing potentially huge saltwater fish like tuna, Mahi, barracuda or billfish, then a 10 or even 12-inch blade will likely serve you best.   

For fishermen who target a variety of different sized species, a 7.5 or 8-inch knife is likely your best bet. 

Blade Flexibility: Blade flexibility is also quite variable when it comes to fillet knives - determined by both the blade material and thickness.

A more flexible blade allows for greater manipulation of the knife while cleaning the fish, so it's generally preferred for smaller fish requiring tighter lines/angles.

A less flexible, stiffer blade assists your wrist and cutting arm with some added power, so these style knives are typically preferred for cleaning larger fish that you really have to muscle through, or for cleaning a ton of fish (of any size) one after another. 

Personal Preference: At the end of the day, filleting a fish is an art form that everyone has their own personal tricks and methods for. Try experimenting with a few different style knives and see what you like best!

Saltwater Fillet Knives

Saltwater fillet knives ought to be particularly rugged for both resistance against corrosion, as well as assistance getting through larger, meatier fish.

Some of our favorite options for saltwater applications include:

Freshwater Fillet Knives

Freshwater fillet knives don't necessarily require the blade strength and corrosion resistance of saltwater knives, but are more mindfully selected for their precise blade length and flexibility, as well as their ability to be re-sharpened to razor status! 

Some of our top picks for freshwater fillet knives include:

Budget Fillet Knives

While owning a high-end fillet knife is an absolute pleasure and worthwhile investment, it's certainly not necessary for achieving a clean fillet. If you don't get out often enough to warrant purchasing a pricy knife, or just don't have the fishing funds to spring for a top-quality unit, there are plenty of budget options that will serve you just fine.

A few of our favorite budget fillet knives worth buying include: 

Top Quality Fillet Knives

If you've ever cleaned a fish with a top-notch fillet knife, then you know how much of a difference you can feel compared to cheaply made options.

While not at all necessary for extracting a good fillet, a high-end knife will become one of the most cherished fishing tools you have, likely allowing for greater mastery of the skill. High-quality knives will also sharpen better and last longer overall.

A few of our top picks for those seeking the very best and willing to spend the big bucks include:

Electric Fillet Knives

While this list focuses on traditional fillet knives, a powered option can be a game-changer when it comes to cleaning large and cumbersome, difficult to handle fish species. They are furthermore a godsend when you have a ton of fish to clean, effectively staving off hand and arm exhaustion.

Our favorite options for electric fillet knives include: 

Knife Sharpeners

Don't neglect to sharpen your fillet knife from time to time if you want to ensure you maintain a razor-sharp edge. 

There are a variety of different style sharpeners to choose from of varying effectiveness and portability, so consider what style makes the most sense for you. A few of our favorites include:

Other Tools for Cleaning Fish

While you're selecting a new fillet knife, don't neglect the other tools of the trade if you really want to upgrade your fish-cleaning game. We've listed a few gear and gadget recommendations for enhancing your overall fish-filleting experience below:

Portable Live Wells

Owning a large or even small capacity live well that enables you to not only keep your bait healthy but also your harvests fresh is a great way to ensure your fillets will come out top-notch. Our list of the best portable live wells has pinned down the top options! 

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