A Guide for Anglers and Hunters – How to Choose a Fillet Knife
You will notice that most of these knives are advertised with similar characteristics. There are minor details of difference between these knives, which can make choosing the right one quite a daunting task. An inferior knife could lead to excessive time spent filleting or even spoil the meat completely.
There is also the risk of an inferior knife slipping from your grip and cutting you in the process. When you are looking to buy your fillet knife, make sure you consider the points listed below and buy the right knife to avoid these unpleasant accidents.
Factors to Consider:
The size of the blade depends on the size of fish you expect to gut using the knife. Fillet knives are available in all sizes from 4” to 9”. Smaller fish will require a smaller blade, between 4” and 7”, for easier cleaning and ensuring there is minimal mess. A smaller blade however will not be very effective with larger fish. If you regularly go for pike, salmon and other large freshwater fish, a 9” blade will serve you well. Overall, the optimal length for a fillet knife that can be used as an “all-purpose knife” would be 7.5”. It will suffice for both smaller and larger fish. To cover all bases, you can carry 2 or 3 blades of different sizes.
Another important blade quality to look for is the steel used in it. Almost all fillet knives are made of stainless steel. However, not all stainless steel alloys are the same. You should look for blades with a stainless steel alloy that is very resistant to moisture and corrosion. The blade should also be durable so it does not snap off the hilt while cleaning your catch.
The flex of the blade is critical to fillet knives. A fillet knife needs to bend and slide well to clean fish. So it does not need to be as taut or rigid as a bowie knife or a pocket knife.
The amount of flex depends on the size of the blade. Smaller blades should be thin and slender so they can efficiently maneuver in the tight angles and make the small cuts required in smaller fish. Longer blades can be thicker but they should also possess a certain degree of flex to make the right cuts. A good test of a blade’s flex is to press its tip to the ground and apply pressure from the top.
A blade with good flex will bend by at least an inch on doing this. Remember that longer blades will have an added thickness that is necessary for them to be durable.
The handle of the knife is as important as the blade for a fillet knife. The handle should be comfortable and allow for a good grip that will not slip from your grasp while cleaning your catch. You should be able to cut neatly and easily while gripping the knife.
Traditionally, fillet knives were equipped with wooden handles. Now, you can get knives with molded plastic and rubber handles. The downside to wooden handles is the ability of wood to soak up moisture. The handle could become slippery if it absorbs too much water, interfering with your work if you are working on a lot of fish.
Rubber makes for the best handles as it can be squeezed allowing for an excellent grip. Rubber and molded plastic handles have excellent resistance to corrosion due to their material which makes them optimal for fillet knives. They are also easier to clean than wooden handles. You should check that the handle has an accommodation for a good grip with your index finger near the blade. This is required to ensure safety for your hand while using the knife and make sure there is no slippage.
Most fillet knives in the market are shipped with a sheath. The sheath is great for storing your knife in a cupboard or in your pack. You can also clip the sheath to your belt on your fishing trip making sure it is always just a hand’s reach away. It is important that you keep the knife stored the sheath when you are not actively filleting.
Now that you know more about how to choose a fillet knife, check out our top 5 fillet knives selections.