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What Makes a Good Fish Fillet Knife?

 man slicing a fish

Our friend is in trouble again!

His partner is in the living room, starving after a hard day of work. He defrosted a delicious fish, ready to cook, thinking all was well.

Yet, as he grabbed the closest knife to fillet the fish, disaster struck!

He picked the wrong knife.

His cut wasn’t smooth, most of the fish went to waste, and his cheeks turned a deep, scarlet red in shame.

How on earth would he explain this one to his partner?

He wanted to present something delicious! Yet, instead, he again got himself a sloppy mess.

If only he’d picked a good fish fillet knife! If only he’d taken the time to make such a worthwhile investment! 

That’s the secret to having the best fillet meal, right?

You can’t just use a regular kitchen knife.

Let’s Pick the Right Knife for You!

If you type, “Fillet Knife” into your search engine, you’ll find the results rather daunting.  There’s a lot to choose from!

What’s more, most fillet knives share similar characteristics, and that makes it hard to weed out the bad ones.

Now, we understand the temptation to buy cheap, of course, we do — but what happens if you pick the wrong knife?

Let’s explore that first.

What NOT to Look for in a Fish Fillet Knife

An Inferior Knife Will Create Increased Food Wastage.

It’s true! The lesser knives may look great on the surface, but you’ll find they’re made from cheaper material. They’ll blunt after constant use and the blunter they are — the less clean your cut! You’ll find more fish going straight to the bin.

An Inferior Knife Will Break More Easily

You’ve heard the phrase, “buy it cheap, buy it twice”, right?

Fish are tough, they have bones in them, and with sustained use, your knife will break. The steel will snap from the handle, and you’ll be back to stage one — without a knife.

This will happen again, and again, and again.

Eventually, you will have spent more money than you would have done if you’d just bought the right fish fillet knife: a better, stronger, knife-like one from Dalstrong’s selection!

An Inferior Knife Will Rust More Quickly

Cheaper material is cheaper for a reason, right? Given time, and exposure to moisture, the high carbon of an inferior knife will rust.

You don’t want to cut fish with a rusted knife.

While we can’t promise a more expensive knife won’t rust after a lifetime of use, we can promise that with preventative measures —  such as avoiding prolonged exposure to moisture — you can enjoy far more sustained use from a more expensive knife.

Great!

So, you know what to avoid. Let’s get to the heart of the matter! Let’s talk about what makes a good fish fillet knife.

Dalstrong Gladiator Series Fillet Knife resting on a sliced fish that is atop a kitchen counter

 

Picking a Good Fish Fillet Knife

There are several aspects that you want to look out for in a good fish fillet knife. These include:

  • Material — Pick a blade that won’t rust easily, and can last you forever.
  • Thin, Flexible Blades — Slice through the fillet with ease, and make precise cuts.
  • Sharp-Edged Blades — Pierce the fish and remove the fish bones intricately
  • Blade Length — A cheaper blade might be good for small-fry but you want something that can handle all manner of catches.

Material

You may only be using your knife at home, but a key thing to remember is: fillet knives are also likely to be used on a fishing expedition. This means they’re going to be exposed to saltwater.

You might be wondering how that’s relevant?

All fillet knives should be corrosion-resistant because of this. A high-carbon stainless steel blade ensures that your knife remains in prime condition, even if it gets wet.

Cheaper knives do sell themselves as being made out of stainless steel, but you’ll find they’re less brittle and lacking the high-carbon the higher end knives offer. These will rust more quickly and lose their sharp-edge.

It’s one of the first aspects you should look for in picking a good knife.

Thin, Flexible Blades

The keyword here is control, and this is something often overlooked. Your knife needs to be thin and flexible, so you can make clean precision cuts.

Imagine trying to do that with a cheap and thick knife.

You’ll likely tear the flesh, and snap the fish’s bones as you make the cut — in turn, that makes it more liable those bones will get lost and end up on your plate!

Here’s a Fact: A fillet knife only needs to be 2.5-3.5mm at the spine.

Our selection over at Dalstrong Knives beats that!

For example, our Gladiator Series 7” Fillet Knife is only 1.5mm at the spine!

The control you’ll get from that speaks for itself!

Sharp-Edged Blades

You’ve found the perfect blade. It’s made of the highest carbon steel, it’s thinner than a piece of string, yet when you go to make your cut, it hardly leaves a mark on the fish!

That’s because you need a sharp-edged blade.

We’re going to talk about that next, but first, have a look at this quick guide on how to sharpen a knife

It says that an ideal fillet knife’s edge will have an angle of 12-17 degrees. It’s one of the finer bevels.

Here’s a little fact: The finer the angle, the more sharp the knife is.

A fillet knife needs to be sharp so you can make a smooth cut, just like butter!

It also helps with the fish bones, too. If you spot an elusive bone inside your fish, you wouldn’t want to tear at it with a blunt blade. That could ruin the entire filleting process.

You want to get underneath the bone with a fine point and get it out with ease.

That’s why you need a sharp knife.

Blade Length

It’s easy to overlook the blade length.

You pick up a knife and assume it’s good for the job. 9 times out of 10, it probably is.

However, with a fillet knife, you may be making your life more difficult.

While smaller sized knives allow for more flexibility, when filleting large fish you need a longer blade.

 We’ve made a handy guide to help you:

Knife Length
Fish Type
4-6” inch blade. Perch
Trout
Walleye
Pan Fish
Mackerel
7-8” inch blade. Pink Salmon
Salmon
8”-9.5” inch blade. Codfish
Tuna
Catfish
Halibut

Having two or three blade sizes available is a brilliant idea, as you’ll always be prepared — no matter what type of fish you plan to cook!

Knife Handle

Similar to the length, another aspect often overlooked is the handle. Luckily, however, this one is a matter of preference!

Choosing a handle that comfortably fits into your hand is essential. It allows for a firm grip.

Remember: A firm grip means better control. Better control means a better cut.

These are the main three different types of handles available on the market:

  • WoodComfortable to hold and very sturdy. Slippery when wet.
  • RubberBetter grip than wood, easier to clean. Not as sturdy as wood.
  • PlasticBetter grip than wood, easier to clean. Not as sturdy as wood.

Manufacturer

Everything you’ve read above has been educational, but when you’re in the store or shopping online — it can be a lot to remember! That’s why it’s important you buy from a manufacturer you trust.

At Dalstrong, we produce only the most durable, and best quality knives.

We go that extra mile to produce knives with a great design that comes in handy when filleting, skinning, and trimming your favorite fish.

We strive to produce products that satisfy our customer needs. We shape our knives for maximum performance and guarantee excellent quality.

So what more are you waiting for?

Check out our selection today!

Though if that’s not quite whetted your appetite, for some further reading, read on as we tackle some more tasty questions, including the one on everyone’s lips: Electric Knives.

Further Reading

Electric Fillet Knife v.s Traditional Filleting Knife

Now that you’ve made it this far, you’ve probably asked yourself at least once:

“Why don’t I just get an electric fillet knife?”

The blades are long, the job can be completed much quicker, and the fillet…

It might not be as perfect as you thought.

Remember: Traditional fish fillet knives allow you to make precise cuts, while electric knives are heavier, less maneuverable, and require a power source

To put it simply, they’re harder to deal with.

They require more maintenance to operate and when you fillet your fish with them, they vibrate more, making them more difficult to handle.

If you want to get the job done quickly, then electric knives may be of use to you, but otherwise, nothing beats the traditional stainless steel kitchen knives that we offer!

The Importance of a Good Sheath

Once you have a decent knife in hand, it’s easy to forget about the sheath.

In fact, it’s in the further reading section as we feel it’s more relevant to those that plan to travel with their knife, rather than those in their own home.

Yet, that doesn’t mean you should skip over this section.

If you’re leaving home with your knife to go fishing, not having a sheath isn’t very practical.

For one, it’s dangerous for both yourself and others, but also, you risk damaging the blade in transit — or blunting the knife.

With that, let’s take a look at some of the sheaths available on the market.

They come in multiple materials. You can get a plastic, nylon, or leather sheath.

Like the handle, the sheath you choose is a matter of preference.

We recommend plastic for fishing trips, as leather and nylon tend to retain the water when you clean the knife, while plastic dries quicker.

When buying a sheath, make sure it comes with a belt loop, too, and is the right size for your knife’s blade length. This can be found by looking at the sheath’s product description.

What is the purpose of a Fillet Knife?

A fillet knife allows you to cut a whole fish so that you’re left with a boneless fillet.

Have you ever bought frozen fish before — battered or otherwise — and noticed they lack bones? That’s because before they reach the store, they’ve gone through a proper filleting process.

Check out this video to learn more about how it’s done!

What is the sharpest fillet knife?

There’s isn’t a particular knife on the market that’s sharper than the rest.

When buying a stainless steel knife for filleting, you want to pick a knife that has an edge of about 12-17 degrees. You can check product descriptions in-store and online to find this information.

Having a sharp knife helps to ensure you can make a clean cut, and get all of the fish bones out with ease.

What is a good fillet knife for fish?

There are plenty of good fillet knives on the market, but nothing beats the excellent high-carbon stainless steel selection by Dalstrong. We know that when you prepare fish, you want to do it properly. Our knives are designed with care and attention, so you can make a clean cut and remove all of the fish bones with ease.

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