Kayaker Guide is reader supported, we may earn commissions from some of our links.

Top 8: Best Fish Fillet Knife

Updated On April 23, 2020

Experienced anglers always have their fishing gear ready; their lure, bait, and rods are just some of the things a good fisherman has on hand. Another tool that anglers have is their fillet knives. If you've ever had to clean and cut your catch of the day, you’ll know how hard it is to do without the proper type of knife. A fillet knife is built especially for this purpose. And if you’re looking to get a clean cut while you prepare your fish for your plate, getting the best fish fillet knife is definitely the way to go.

The best fillet knives for fishing are listed down below, along with a detailed guide on this special type of fishing knife. 

Our overall top pick for the best fish fillet knife is Mercer Culinary Millenia Fillet Knife from Mercer Culinary.

And if you're also looking for storage for your fish, you can check our buyer's guide for the best kayak cooler.

Quick Summary: Top 8 - Best Fish Fillet Knife


Our seasoned editors have picked and rated these products for each specific category and area of expertise to recommend you the best models and products we can. We receive commission from some of these affiliate links.
Best Overall: 1. Mercer Culinary Millenia Fillet Knife
At an affordable cost, the Mercer Culinary Millenia Fillet Knife is a great option with its high carbon and a stain-resistant blade made from Japanese steel, and its ergonomic handle design. It’s a comfortable and easy to control fillet knife.
Best Construction: 2. Mercer Culinary Renaissance Forged Fillet Knife
The one-forged construction of the Mercer Culinary Renaissance Fillet Knife gives it a durable and long-lasting build. The German Cutlery Steel Blade is fitted with an easy-grip Delrin Handle. 
Best Value: 3. KastKing Fillet Knife 
The KastKing Fillet Knife is a Fillet Knife and Sheath package offered at a great value. The knife features a durable build made of a polymer handle and stainless steel German Blade.
Best Electric Knife: 4. Rapala Heavy Electric Fillet Knife
Electric knives are a convenient option. This Rapala Electric Fillet Knife has a heavy-duty motor that runs on 110V. The stainless blade is removable and dishwasher safe.
Best Wood Handle: 5. Rapala Fillet Knife with Sheath
​Featuring a classic birchwood handle and a blade made from Swedish Stainless Steel, this Rapala Fillet Knife is available in 4-inch, 6-inch, and 7.5-inch blade options; all blades are fitted with the same varnished wood handle.
Best Grip: 6. Rapala Fillet Knife
​Another fillet knife from Rapala, this piece is fitted with the Rapala flexible stainless steel blade and has a molded soft-grip handle with a textured, non-slip coat. The knife also comes with a simple black sheath.
Best Quality: 7. Dalstrong Flexible Gladiator Fillet Knife
The Dalstrong Flexible Gladiator Fillet Knife features a 56+ grade Rockwell hardness on its hand-polished German Steel (G4116) Blade. It is fitted with high quality and ergonomic Pakkawood handle.
Best Protected: 8. Calamus Stainless Steel Fillet Knives
The Calamus Stainless Steel Fillet Knife has a protective nylon sheath that protects the German Stainless Steel (G4116) Blade. The knife blade features a blue Teflon finish. The handle also carries a cool blue and gray design.
Top 3 Quick Comparison
Product
Photo
Blade
Link
Best Overall
Japanese Steel
Best Construction
Germany Cutlery Steel
Best Value
G4116 German Stainless Steel

Our Reviews


Best Overall
At an affordable cost, the Mercer Culinary Millenia Fillet Knife is a great option with its high carbon and a stain-resistant blade made from Japanese steel, and its ergonomic handle design. It’s a comfortable and easy to control fillet knife.
Quick Specs
  • Blade: Japanese Steel
  • Handle: Santoprene and Polyprene Material
  • Length: 8-inch
The Mercer Culinary Millennia Fillet Knife is one of the best fish knives at its price range. It has low maintenance, stain-resistant, high carbon stainless steel Japanese blade with ergonomic handle design. The handle is made of two materials, Polyprene and Santoprene. The combination of these materials gives the handle a durable feel. The handle has an angled finger guard and a non-slip grip which makes it easier to use as you cut fish. (1, 2)

This knife is also NSF listed which means that it has passed a series of complex and specific standards that ensure that the knife’s form offers optimal safety when in use. The only major downside to this item is that it does not come with a knife sheath. However, the blade is definitely quite sharp. It is lightweight but weighted enough that you can get a good feel while you slice through your fish. (3)
  • Stain-Resistant High-carbon Stainless steel Japanese Blade
  • Comfortable and Durable, Ergonomic Handle
  • Angled finger guard and Non-slip grip
  • No Knife Sheath
  • Only 8-inch Knife Available
Product Review
"Very sharp fillet knife good weight and seems to be very durable."
Best Construction
The one-forged construction of the Mercer Culinary Renaissance Fillet Knife gives it a durable and long-lasting build. The German Cutlery Steel Blade is fitted with an easy-grip Delrin Handle. 
Quick Specs
  • Blade: Germany Cutlery Steel
  • Handle: Delrin Handle
  • Length: 2.5-inch, 3.5-inch, 5-inch, 6-inch, 7-inch, 8-inch, 9-inch, 10-inch, 11-inch
The Mercer Culinary Renaissance Fillet Knife features a one-piece forged construction design that is fitted with an ergonomic Delrin Handle with a triple-riveted build. The handle itself gives a good grip but the exposed full tang blade edge and shortened bolster, as well as the tapered edge design, making it really easy to handle the knife. 

Because of the one-piece construction of this knife, it is expected to last longer than other knives. The materials used to make this product are also of a high standard. The blade is made from German Cutlery steel which is rust-resistant, stain-resistant, and anti-corrosive. On top of the high-class build of this fillet knife, Mercer also provides a limited lifetime warranty.
  • Durable German Cutlery Steel 
  • Ergonomic Delrin Handle
  • Mercer Limited Lifetime Warranty
  • No Knife Sheath Included
  • Full Blade Edge can be Dangerous
Product Review
"The full tang and excellent handles make a well balanced knife, there are no tactile seams on the handle, and the top of the blade is rounded. It takes an excellent edge and has decent retention."
Best Value
The KastKing Fillet Knife is a Fillet Knife and Sheath package offered at a great value. The knife features a durable build made of a polymer handle and stainless steel German Blade. 
Quick Specs
  • Blade: G4116 German Stainless Steel
  • Handle: Polymer
  • Length: 6-inch, 7-inch, 9-inch
The KastKing G4116 Fillet Knife is a great option priced at an affordable cost. The blade is durable stainless steel that is available in 3 size options. Each option also comes with a nice sheath that features a lock-in mechanism that securely holds to the handle. The knife and sheath carry a nice orange and black design that look extremely sleek. The handle and sheath are made of the same polymer material, which feels quite durable. In addition, the material is also easy to clean either by washing under running water or wiping it clean. 

Despite being a more affordable option, the blade is strong and flexible. It’s easy to control, especially since the handle has a non-slip grip texture. No matter which blade length is chosen, the handle is at a fixed 5.8-inch length and 1.5-inch width. It’s a simple fillet knife with a cool design, good grip, and a strong blade. 
  • Durable G4116 Stainless Steel German Blade
  • Non-Slip Polymer Grip Handle
  • Sheath with Lock and Water Drainage Slots
  • Blade Dulls Quickly
  • Handle too wide for some people
Product Review
"The blade is sleek, very sharp and the handle textures when gripped, feels comfortable and sure."
Best Electric Knife
Electric knives are a convenient option. This Rapala Electric Fillet Knife has a heavy-duty motor that runs on 110V. The stainless blade is removable and dishwasher safe.
Quick Specs
  • Blade: Stainless Steel 
  • Handle: Heavy Duty Motor 
  • Length: 7.5-inch
The Rapala Heavy Duty Electric Fillet Knife is a good option to look out if you are interested in getting an electric knife. The main advantage of an electric fillet knife is that it gives users great control and makes it really easy to slice through fish with minimal effort.

This Electric Knife comes with a dishwasher safe stainless steel blade which is easy to clean. The motor is set into the handle, making it quite thick. It is a challenge to get a really good grip on this knife.

The motor requires 110V to run and has to be plugged in. While the power cord is quite long, measuring a total distance of 8 feet, this is the only option to use the electric knife; it does not use a battery. Thus, this electric knife can only be used indoors or when you have a nearby power source. The motor on this knife is also really powerful, powering the fast reciprocating style movement of the blades.
  • Dishwasher-safe Stainless Steel 
  • Long 8-foot Power Cord
  • One-year warranty
  • Large Handle Because of Heavy Duty Motor
  • Needs to be Plugged in
Product Review
"This is a Monster electric fillet knife, and definitely the best model that Rapala has to offer."
Best Wood Handle
Featuring a classic birchwood handle and a blade made from Swedish Stainless Steel, this Rapala Fillet Knife is available in 4-inch, 6-inch, and 7.5-inch blade options; all blades are fitted with the same varnished wood handle. 
Quick Specs
  • Blade: Swedish Stainless Steel 
  • Handle: Birch Handle
  • Length: 4-inch, 6-inch, 7.5-inch
The Rapala Fillet Knife is made of a classic varnished birch handle fitted with a full tang Swedish stainless steel blade. Available blade sizes range from 4-inches to 6 and 7.5 inches, with a fixed 4-inch long handle. The knife comes equipped with the famous Rapala flexible stainless steel blade. Despite being made of wood, the handle is easy to hold and has a soft, non-slip grip to it. 

The knife comes with a lovely leather sheath that has a holder. Another thing you’ll find in the package is the single-stage sharpener, which is a small but handy tool to help keep your knife’s blade sharp.

Overall, this Rapala Fillet Knife has a clean and classic look. It is easy to control and, with the leather pouch, is something you could easily take on a fishing trip. However, while the knife is easy to clean, getting the leather pouch wet or dirty can be a hassle. 
  • Varnished Birch Handle with Comfortable Grip
  • Classic Leather Sheath Pouch
  • Multiple Full Tang Blade Length Options
  • Handle is prone to cracking
  • Single-Stage Knife Sharpener is hard to use
  • Dull Steel Blade
Product Review
"The knife has the perfect amount of flex and strength for taking the silver skin off of big game."
Best Grip
Another fillet knife from Rapala, this piece is fitted with the Rapala flexible stainless steel blade and has a molded soft-grip handle with a textured, non-slip coat. The knife also comes with a simple black sheath.
Quick Specs
  • Blade: Rapala Flexible Stainless Steel 
  • Handle: Molded Texture Handle
  • Length: 4-inch, 6-inch, 7.5-inch
This Fillet Knife features a basic build equipped with the famous Rapala flexible stainless steel blade. It comes with a molded, soft-grip handle that has a textured, non-slip surface. The molded texture handle offers great control while filleting. The knife comes with a black sheath that can be attached to your belt. An added single-stage sharpener also comes with this package. 

The really good thing about this knife is its lightweight design. The handle definitely gives you a good grip, making it really easy to control when you need to use it. The multiple blade option is also great since there are some people who hold preference with smaller blades while others prefer longer ones. The handle, however, is always 4-inches long. 
  • Stainless Steel Sharp Blade
  • Soft-Grip, Textured Handle
  • Water-draining Mesh Bag
  • Small Gap between Blade and Bolster
  • Single-Stage Sharpener is hard to use
Product Review
"This has been a great knife, and I filet allot of fish. It has held an edge very well..."
Best Quality
The Dalstrong Flexible Gladiator Fillet Knife features a 56+ grade Rockwell hardness on its hand-polished German Steel (G4116) Blade. It is fitted with high quality and ergonomic Pakkawood handle.
Quick Specs
  • Blade: German Steel 
  • Handle: Pakkawood Handle
  • Length: 7 inch
The Dalstrong Flexible Gladiator Fillet Knife has a thin, flexible, and razor-sharp blade made from sturdy German steel with a hand-polished blade edge. This high carbon steel design is made to give high precision and control while cutting. The blade is 1.5mm thick at the spine giving the blade flexibility. While some users find the Pakkawood handle to be quite heavy, the weight actually gives the knife a good feel and better balance as you slice through.

This Fillet Knife comes with 2 different sheaths which are built specifically for indoor or outdoor use. The traditional polymer sheath is great if you are keeping the knife in the kitchen but the leather sheath is built for outdoor use. The knife itself is designed for use in both environments.
  • German Steel with Hand-polished Edge
  • 56+ Rockwell hardness
  • Black, ergonomic Pakkawood handle
  • Includes PerfectFit Dalstrong sheath and PLU leather outdoor sheath
  • Heavy Knife Handle
  • Outdoor Sheath is too big 
Product Review
"Well balanced knife that is flexible when needed and stiff when needed."
Best Protected
The Calamus Stainless Steel Fillet Knife has a protective nylon sheath that protects the German Stainless Steel (G4116) Blade. The knife blade features a blue Teflon finish. The handle also carries a cool blue and gray design.
Quick Specs
  • Blade: G4116 German Stainless Steel
  • Handle: Golf-style Rubber
  • Length: 7-inch, 9-inch
The Calamus Stainless Steel Fillet Knife has a razor-sharp G4116 German Stainless Steel blade with an electric blue Teflon finish. The blade comes with a sleekly designed blue and gray handle that is made from a golf-style rubber material which is very lightweight. The handle is slip-resistant and provides a comfortable grip. 

A protective nylon sheath comes with this filleting knife. The sheath has an open edge along with vented slots on one side to prevent the corrosion. This protective sheath partnered with high-quality blades makes this item great for either saltwater or freshwater use. 

Overall, this stainless steel fillet knife from Calamus offers a nice build from durable materials and a very bright and sleek design. The rubber handle may feel flimsy for some, but it is still easy to hold. The sheath also comes with a snap-on feature that locks the sheath securely in place.
  • Durable German Stainless Steel 
  • Protective Nylon Sheath
  • Multiple Blade Length Options
  • Handle is Made from Rubber Material
  • Blade is not that sharp
Product Review
"The knife is sharp and ready to use. I like the simple protective case for the blade that snaps over the knife."

Things To Consider Before Buying A Fillet Knife

Before you decide on a final fillet knife purchase, it’s important to become more familiar with the many options in the market. Our list of top fillet knives is a great starting point but if you are still looking for something better suited for your needs, here are a few things you should know about fish filleting knives before you scour the market.

What is a Fillet Knife?

Fillet knives are used to fillet fishes and other meats. Filleting is a process where you cut a thin and long piece of meat. A fish fillet is usually sliced from one end to the other in a cut parallel to the bones of the fish. The final fish fillet is boneless and ready to cook. Prior to filleting a fish, descaling is necessary.

The right fillet knife typically features a thin and flexible blade, with a more curved edge than other knives. Although people can actually use any knife to fillet a fish, these three properties make the fillet knife more suitable for filleting. Having the right tool essentially makes it easier for you.

However, not just any fillet knife should cut it. There are currently so many options in the market that it can be difficult to choose the best ones. These are five distinct knife characteristics that you should take into consideration when buying a fillet knife.

Fillet Knife Length

Some fillet knives are available in different sizes while others only have a single option. Typically, there are three general size categories to consider, short, medium, and long fillet knives. A length below 6-inches is considered a short fillet knife. Shorter knives are easier to use if you are cutting smaller fishes like sunfish and perch. Medium fillet knives are around 7 inches in blade length and are good for filleting bass and trout. Long fillet knives are those blades that measure past 9 inches in length and are suited for filleting larger catches, like northern pikes.

A collection of all three sizes should give you the flexibility to choose the best knife depending on your catch. But if you’re only planning to buy a single fillet knife, getting a medium size is a safer option.


Fillet Knife Blade

Fillet knife blades are usually made from a stainless steel material. There are different variations and sources for this specific material. However, an important property to look out for when finding the right blade is choosing a durable, non-corrosive, stain-resistant, and rust-resistant blade. A common problem with cheaper knife blades is that these tend to be duller, giving you a harder time when you cut through fish. 

Another property to consider is the flexibility of the blade. If you’re looking at short or medium-sized knives, a flexible blade will give you better control and maneuverability. However, long knives will need to be a bit stiffer in order to make it easier to control. Checking the thickness of the blade will provide a basis for its flexibility.


Fillet Knife Handles

A good knife handle should offer both a firm grip and a comfortable hold. Depending on the size of your catch, filleting might take a while. Handles with a hard handle will cause some palm and wrist pain over time. Non-slip handles are also a necessity since filleting can be a dangerous process. Traditional fillet knives featured wooden handles. However, most now have a rubber handle. 

Some features that add to better grip and comfort are rivets, finger grips, and indentations around certain parts of the handle. Texturized handles are also great if you want a non-slip grip.


Fillet Knife Extras

Other items that you might expect to come with your fillet knife typically include protective sheaths and sharpening tools. Sheaths are essential if you plan to use the knife outdoors. However, there are specific sheaths that are better suited for either indoor or outdoor use. If the knife doesn’t come with a sheath, protective leather pouches are an option but you'll need to find the right size and fit. Having a sheath made specifically for that knife ensures more secure protection. 

Sharpening tools are also great to have. One way to prolong the life of your knife is by sharpening it. There are different sharpening tools that you can use. If you’ve just started sharpening your knives, trying out different tools will help you get a feel of what works best for you.

How to use a Fillet Knife?

Initially, learning to fillet a fish can be a bit of tricky task as it requires that the user holds the knife in the right position, applies just the right amount of pressure, and cuts the fish at the right angle. But fortunately, filleting isn’t rocket science.

Here’s a general walkthrough on how to use a fillet knife when cutting through fish:
  1. Cut the head off your fish behind the gills.
  2. Holding the fish by the tail, glide your blade from the tail-down to make an incision on your fish. As you do this, you may way to place your index finger on the backbone of your knife to help guide the knife. Never cut towards you, only away from you.
  3. As you hold your fish down by the tail, remove the skin from your fish by gliding your blade (away from you) along the skin.
  4. For larger fish, instead of cutting the head off, you would instead make a deep incision behind the gills on both sides, leaving the head still partially intact, before moving on to the next steps.
Once you get a feel of your fillet knife and understand how to use it, you can fillet fish quickly and effortlessly.

Our Top Pick:  Mercer Culinary Millenia Fillet Knife

The features of the Mercer Culinary Knife make filleting an easy task. It’s ergonomic handle with the angled finger guard and non-slip design is easy to hold. With a comfortable and secure grip on the knife, you can get a better feel and good control as you slice through your fish. The Japanese steel blade is also a very durable and sharp material that is flexible enough to make maneuvering the knife easy. 

While the Millenia Fillet Knife is definitely at the top of our list, all the other fillet knives are still great options to choose from. When choosing the right knife, you might go through a phase of trial-and-error, where the best options may not be what you need. Trying out different fillet knives may be one way to go but going through the reviews with a specific purpose in mind will help you identify which features you really need.

We have given you options for the best fish fillet knives, you can also check out our list of other must have kayak fishing accessories.
Our Top Pick
Best Overall
At an affordable cost, the Mercer Culinary Millenia Fillet Knife is a great option with its high carbon and a stain-resistant blade made from Japanese steel, and its ergonomic handle design. It’s a comfortable and easy to control fillet knife.
References
(1) Polypropylene - https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-polypropylene-820365
(2) Santoprene - https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20060920005086/en/
ExxonMobil-Chemical-Introduces-New-Food-Contact-FDA-Compliant
(3) NSF - https://www.nsf.org/consumer-resources/what-is-nsf-certification

Related Reading

Best Fishing Line for Spinning Reels

By: Andrew Bell

When you’re out in the water, you might want to keep your kayak steady for a while to enjoy the scenery or take some time to catch some fish. Having the best kayak anchor will

Best Kayak Anchor

By: Andrew Bell

When you’re out in the water, you might want to keep your kayak steady for a while to enjoy the scenery or take some time to catch some fish. Having the best kayak anchor will

Best Kayak Cooler

By: Andrew Bell

Nothing says fun quite like a kayak. It’s a great way to spend time with family and get some exercise as well. If you don’t currently own a kayak, it is time to find the

About the author 

Andrew Bell

Andrew is a seasoned kayaker with 15 years of experience under his belt. He began kayaking as a way to reduce work stress but quickly became an avid kayak fisher and lure expert. He currently enjoys both lake and ocean kayaking and loves to write and share his experiences.


Leave a Repl​​​​​y

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}