Put to the Test: Best Fillet Knife for Cookin’ and Eatin’

Keith Lusher

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I can remember it like it was yesterday.

I returned home from a successful fishing trip and started to saw into my first fish using my best fillet knife. 

I sawed back and forth and ended up cutting through the backbone. I spent the next 10 minutes trying to separate the meat from the skin on that first fish and I had 20 more to go!

Frustration set in. 

I turned to “Plan B” – My electric knife!

I ran to the garage and grabbed my knife. I pulled the trigger and nothing!  The battery died since my last fish cleaning session.

It’s funny how so much attention is spent focusing on rod and reels, fishing lures, and electronics, but somehow the knives we use to clean the fish are an afterthought to most anglers. 

I’ve come a long way since that personal episode in my life and can honestly say that I will never be in that predicament ever again thanks to a little research that led me to the perfect fillet knife – the Wustof Classic.

If you have never done the proper research in order to make an informed decision on a high-quality, good fillet knife. Fear not! We have! 

Wusthof Classic IKON Fillet Knife
Best Overall
Wusthof Classic IKON Fillet Knife


  • Highly flexible blade
  • Comes with leather sheath
  • High quality thin, flexible blade
  • High-end quality feel
Dexter Russell P94813 Narrow Fillet Knife
Best Budget
Dexter Russell P94813 Narrow Fillet Knife


  • Low price
  • Easy to grip Gript-Tex handle
  • Light weight for long cleaning sessions


Bubba Pro Series Lithium-Ion Electric Fillet Knife
Best Electric Fillet Knife
Bubba Pro Series Lithium-Ion Electric Fillet Knife


  • Heavy Duty
  • Powerful brushless motor
  • Comes with two long-lasting battery
  • Comes with four different-sized blades

Best Fishing Fillet Knife Overall

Wusthof Classic IKON Fillet Knife

Rating 10/10


  • 7-inch high carbon stainless steel blade
  • Black Stainless steel handle 


  • Incredibly sharp blade
  • Forged from a single block of stainless steel allowing no breaking point
  • Very flexible blade allows for finesse filleting 
  • Lifetime warranty


  • Does not come with sheath 

Why We Chose It

From the initial purchase of this knife, I have fallen in love with everything about this fillet knife. For starters let’s talk about sharpness.

 The Wusthof Classic IKON Fillet Knife is the sharpest knife that I’ve ever owned.

This makes a huge difference when I clean my fish because it allows me to clean upwards of 50 fish in one session without any pain in my hand; that makes a big difference. 

With knives I’ve used in the past it seems I’ve always had to “wrestle” the fish, sawing back and forth to cut through it. Once I get the blade down to the backbone and start cutting across, it’s like cutting through butter. 

The ultra-thin blade allows it to run along the backbone completely separating the meat from the bone. 

The fillets are beautiful! Smooth edges! I can’t wait to grill the first batch and watch everyone’s response when I serve them. 

Now let’s talk about quality. The knife is cut from a single piece of stainless steel making it virtually indestructible. 

Add to it, the lifetime warranty and I believe I’ve found the perfect fillet knife!  

Best Electric Fillet Knife for Fish

Bubba Pro Series Lithium-Ion Electric Fillet Knife

Rating 10/10


  • Comes with four different blades: 7” Flexible, 9” Flexible, 9” Stiff, 12” Stiff
  • High carbon stainless steel blades 
  • Two Lithium Ion batteries included 
  • Carrying case
  • Battery life indicator 
  • Safety lock on trigger
  • Charging cord
  • Non-slip grip handle 


  • Ability to clean different sized fish with small or large blade
  • Long lasting battery
  • Ergonomic Comfortable grip 


  • Overpowers fish under 6 inches making a jagged cut along the backbone 

Why We Chose It

After trying out different electric knives I have to say that the Bubba Pro Series Lithium-Ion Fillet Knife was the best in terms of comfort, power, and versatility. Let’s start off with power. 

The brushless motor has a smooth sound to it and gives off little vibration. When I used it on a large sheepshead powered right through and did not weaken when I cut through the ribcage. 

The added blades with sharp edges allow the knife to be used for whatever fish but I did find that it overpowered the bluegill that I cleaned, yanking the bream back and forth causing it to tear the meat along the backbone on a few. 

It comes with two batteries but I have to say that I haven’t run out of power from the original battery that was in the knife and I’ve cleaned fish from 4 trips so far. 

If you’re looking for quality, versatility, and power, this is the “machine” for you. 

In fact, it gave our overall best fillet knife, the Wusthof Classic IKON Fillet Knife, close competition but finished just shy because of a less sharp blade. 

Best Fillet Knife for Salmon

Wusthof Classic IKON Salmon Slicer

Rating 10/10


  • 12-inch high carbon stainless steel hollow blade
  • Black Stainless steel handle 


  • Incredibly sharp blade
  • Forged from a single block of stainless steel provides no breaking point. 
  • Hollow edge for smoother cut
  • 12-inch blade for large salmon
  • Corrosion resistant 


  • Does not come with sheath 

Why We Chose It

Wild-caught Sockeye Salmon is at the top of my list when it comes to taste.

I like to split the fish and smoke it with a homemade mustard sauce. In my opinion, nothing compares to the taste of a properly smoked salmon. 

When I’m choosing a fillet knife for filleting salmon, I’m looking for a sharp hollow blade. The Wusthof Classic IKON Salmon Slicer fits the bill perfectly for knives with a longer blade length of 12”.

 If you’ve never tried a hollow edge knife when spitting salmon I highly recommend it. The purpose of the hollow indentations on the knife allow air to flow between the blade and the meat reducing suction. 

This knife is a pleasure to use and I can honestly say I look forward to filleting salmon with it. 

It feels very comfortable in my hand and I can make very precise cuts which equal a beautiful slab of meat for the smoker. 

Add to it Wosthof’s lifetime warranty, and this fillet knife is at the top of my list for the best fillet knife for salmon.

Best Fillet Knives for Panfish

Rapala 6” Fish’n Fillet Knife 

Rating 9.7/10


  • 6-inch stainless steel blade
  • Wooden handle 


  • Blade stays sharp for years
  • Short, thin blade perfect for small fish
  • Affordable 


  • Wooden handle allows fish scent to soak in 

Why We Chose It

I have to admit that I was surprised at how well this little Rapala knife performed. At first glance, it looks outdated and a throw-back to the fillet knives I used as a kid. 

However, after trying several, more expensive knives I preferred using this one. It felt good in my hand and easily cut through the Bluegill. 

When cleaning panfish I either de-head the fish and whole fry them or fillet them. The Rapala is tough! I’ve used it several times to scale the fish as well instead of a scaler and it flaked off the scales just as good.

It has a bit of a flex to it but not too much.

 When filleting panfish, the blade needs to have some stiffness and this blade was perfect. The only downside is the wooden handle.

 I find that the fish smell seeps into it and is hard to get rid of over the years so this forces me to keep it in my tackle box instead of the kitchen. 

Overall the Rapala Fish’n Fillet Knife came out on top when it comes to a comfortable grip, sharp blade and affordability in my opinion. 

Best Fillet Knife for Saltwater Fish

Rapala R12 Heavy Duty Lithium Fillet Knife

Rating 10/10


  • 2 PTFE-coated blades (6″ and 7.5″)
  • Two Lithium Ion batteries included
  • Storage case
  • Battery life indicator 
  • LED light for lowlight conditions
  • Charging cord
  • 80-minute run time
  • Cordless


  • Lot’s of power to clean tough, saltwater fish.
  • Long lasting battery
  • Ergonomic Comfortable grip 


  • Overpowers smaller freshwater fish like bass and small trout. Better suited for larger fish.

Why We Chose It

While there are different qualities that anglers look for in a saltwater fillet knife, the ones that I place at the top of my list are power, blade sharpness, and comfort. 

Usually when I go saltwater fishing I’m catching drum, speckled trout, sheepshead, and redfish. 

Our limit’s here in Louisiana are very liberal so I may be bringing back over 50 fish each trip. This leads to a VERY long fish cleaning session!

 With that being said I really need a lot of power in the knife and for the handle to be comfortable.

I found that the Rapala Rq2 provided that. My hand wasn’t hurting after an hour-long fish cleaning session.

Another thing I liked about the knife is the time it takes to fully charge a the battery taking only an hour to fully charge. 

The blades shift back and forth incredibly fast as well allowing me to cut through fish faster. 

If you clean a lot of saltwater fish, like I do, I highly recommend this knife as a permanent lifelong purchase.

Best Fillet Knives for Walleye 

Kershaw 9” Curved Fillet Knife

Rating 9.7/10


  • 9-inch 420J2 stainless steel curved hollow-edge blade
  • Non-Slip Glass-Filled Nylon Handle With K-Texture Grip


  • Extremely sharp blade 
  • Hollow edge blade for smooth, easy cut
  • Includes a blade protector 
  • Comfortable grip 


  • Prone to rust stains when exposed to saltwater

Why We Chose It

Any Walleye fisherman will tell you that filleting a Walleye is a completely different animal as opposed to other fish. 

The reason being is that the cheeks of a Walleye are considered the filet mignon of the fish.

When filleting this fish, instead of cutting down at the fin, I like to cut around the cheek bone which calls for cutting through more bone than a normal fish. 

The Kershaw 9 inch Fillet Knife worked great for this because of its stiff, strong blade. It fit comfortably in my hand and allowed full control of the knife without slipping.

 The boning knife is sharp as well and has stayed sharp through numerous fish cleaning sessions.

I actually ran this knife down my leg to test if it would cut the hairs and it actually removed a patch of hair from my leg so I can personally vouch for it being razor sharp!

If you’re looking for a knife specifically geared toward cleaning Walleye, I highly recommend this knife as your go-to tool at your fish cleaning table. 

Best Fillet Knife for Trout

Victorinox Fibrox Pro Fillet Knife

Rating 10/10


  • 7-inch or 8-inch high carbon stainless steel blade
  • Black Firox textured handle


  • Incredibly sharp blade out of the box
  • Very flexible blade
  • Slip resistant handle 
  • Corrosion resistant


  • Does not come with sheath 
  • Blade dulls quickly needing sharpening often

Why We Chose It

The Victorinox Fibrox Pro Fillet Knife is an absolute pleasure to use when cleaning trout.

I have to admit that I was surprised at how well this knife performed because the price was relatively cheap.

As most trout fisherman know, when filleting trout it’s not about power. Trout have soft meat and a flexible, sharp blade is more useful. 

The Victorinox fits the bill as far as I am concerned when it comes to finesse filleting.

The handle feels like it is made of a hard type of rubber but is soft enough to allow for a firm but comfortable grip. 

It’s also lightweight which makes a difference when cleaning a lot of fish.

Best Fillet Knife for Bass

Dalstrong 7” Fillet Knife

Rating 10/10


  • 7-inch high carbon German stainless steel blade
  • Black G10 Garolite handle made of alloy steel


  • Razor sharp blade out of the box
  • Holds sharpness over time
  • Money-back guarantee
  • Rockwell hardness score of 56


  • Expensive 

Why We Chose It

I’ve used this knife when cleaning largemouth bass and it topped the list of top fillet knives. 

What more can I say about this knife? It’s ultra-sharp and has retained its sharpness through numerous cleaning sessions..

I really like how the steel is strong enough to hold an edge but not too hard to make sharpening a problem.

It’s tough enough to cut through large bass but has the flexibility to cut along the backbone of smaller 12-inch bass. 

It’s very precise and feels like a high-end gourmet knife which makes cleaning the bass I bring home a joy. 

The knife scored a hardness rating of 56 on the Rockwell scorecard. 

Factors to Consider Before Buying a Fishing Fillet Knife

Let’s take a look at some of the most important considerations I always think about when choosing a fillet knife.

filleting a salmon with the best fishing fillet knife

Size of Fish

I consider the size of the fish the most important thing to consider when choosing a fillet knife. If the fish are large you’re going to need a long blade to extend from the stomach to the top of the fish. 

When cleaning saltwater fish and larger fish like salmon and sheepshead, you’ll want to do it with a 9-inch blade with good edge retention. 

When cleaning freshwater fish like bass and trout, you’ll want to go with a fillet knife with a blade that measures from 6 inches to 9 inches.

 I prefer a knife with a blade of 5 inches or less when cleaning panfish like bluegill and red ears.

Toughness of Fish

Here’s where some extra power comes in handy. I always prefer to use a non-electric fillet knife over an electric, however, when I’m cleaning tough fish I always opt for the electric knife.

Typically when I clean tough fish I’m not as concerned about making precise cuts because there is plenty of meat on the fish and I typically catch a lot of them. 

So having an electric knife to power through the fish makes the fish cleaning sessions a heck of a lot easier. When cleaning large fish it’s important to choose a knife that’s strong and durable.

 There’s a lot of muscle that goes into cutting through tough fish and having a quality, stiff blade puts you on the offense instead of playing defense. 

Length of Fish Cleaning Session 

salmon filleted with the best fishing fillet knife

If you are an angler who cleans a lot of fish then you’ll need to consider comfort in the handle and sharpness of the blade. 

Believe me when I say it’s best to invest in a more expensive fillet knife than to push through an hour-long fish cleaning session with an uncomfortable knife.

 Try a few knives out for yourself and see which one fits the shape of your hand and is slip resistant.

 A good ergonomic handle with a soft grip will make all the difference in the world! Take it from someone who’s had their fair share of long days out on the water.

 I’ve come home from a successful day of fishing and had to clean over 100 fish. 

The last thing I wanted to do was clean all those fish but since I like to complete everything in one day, I’ll power though the chore and having the perfect knife with a quality blade makes a huge difference. 

You’ll Also Need

Here are some things I have to have with my fillet knives. 

Cleaning board

fishing cleaning cutting board

To help out in your fish cleaning sessions you’re going to need the proper surface to lay the fish down. I’ve been cleaning fish since before I can remember.

I’ve used an upside down aluminum flatboat, I’ve used a fence board, and I’ve used a granite tabletop (this led to my first official fight with my wife after we were married). 

A few years ago I decided to invest in a wood cutting board and it’s made all the difference in the world. The board can be placed on any sturdy table (even a granite countertop). 

Personally, I would stay away from the plastic fishing cleaning tables that are sold because they aren’t sturdy and wobble too much for my liking.

I’d recommend selecting a board with a clamp on it to help in holding the fish in place. 

This helps protect your hand when holding the head down and provides added strength which helps in long fish cleaning sessions.

Blade Sharpener 

Orange Ninja Knife Sharpener

Only one fillet knife in our list came with a blade sharpener so this is another thing to add to the list of things you’ll need when considering what knife to buy. 

While a lot of the knives mentioned on our list stay sharp for a long period of time, it doesn’t hurt to sharpen them every one in a while to keep them as sharp as possible. 

Check out the Orange Ninja Knife Sharpener. This sharpener is able to fit five different size blades and is simple to use. 

All you need to do is place the sharpener on a tabletop then insert the blade and pull it towards you.

There is no need for a back and forth motion with this sharper. Not only can this knife sharpener sharpen fillet knives but it also works on pocket knives and kitchen knives. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Who makes the best fishing fillet knife?

Wustof makes the best fillet knife for fishing. This was determined from plenty of personal experience with Wustof knives and consulting with a few trained chefs.

How do I choose a fish fillet knife?

To choose a fish fillet knife, first you need to decide what type of fish you are going to be cleaning.

If the fish is tough and large you’re going to want to select a strong blade or an electric knife. You’ll also want a knife with a longer blade length.

If the fish is small like a crappie, you’ll want to select a fishing fillet knife that is smaller with a sharp thin blade for precise cuts.

Final Thoughts

I understand that choosing the right fillet knife doesn’t rank high on most anglers list of items to buy. However, I highly recommend investing in one that fits your needs for the long run to add to your cutlery. 

Consider all the options that I’ve listed and also do your own homework in selecting the right knife. 

Take a look at Amazon’s reviews on different fillet knives and you might come up with a different conclusion than mine. It’s all about personal choice! 

Selecting a knife that is easy on your hands and slices right through the fish can make a great fishing trip even better!

 I’ve put in the homework and the list that I’ve compiled should at least be the first steps to selecting your next best fishing filet knife. 

If you have any feedback from your personal experiences we’d love to hear them!

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