Good Fish Filet Knives: What to Look For
May 27th, 2022 by Keith Worrall
Modified May 27th, 2022 at 10:48 PM
Good Fish Filet Knives: What to Look For
Whether you are shopping for a machete or a chef’s knife, it’s vital to have the best and sharpest tool for the job, and fillet knives are no different. I was never quite able to cut fish properly until I got a quality fillet knife. We will take a look at what makes a good fish fillet knife, as well as examine some of the best knives on the market.
What Makes a Good Fish Fillet Knife?
Whether you are an experienced angler or just a home chef looking to add more fish to your diet, a fillet knife is a vital tool in the knife block. When looking for a knife to purchase, you should keep three factors in mind: the size and shape of the blade, the materials used in creating the knife, and the type of handle.
It may sound obvious, but having a sharp knife is the most critical tool in filleting a fish. The fillet knife is tailor-made for this purpose, and its distinctive shape allows you to easily cut the fish and extract bones.
Manufacturers create fillet knives with a bevel between 12 and 17 degrees to facilitate razor-sharp cutting. The instruments also have a sharp point to allow the user to puncture the piece of meat to easily remove bones. If your knife isn’t sharp enough, it will damage the fillet and leave bones embedded.
Fillet knife blades are razor-thin and provide flexibility. This allows you to make the exact cut you want to make, which is critical in the filleting process. If the blade is too thick and doesn’t have enough flex, your cuts won’t be as clean and could ruin the fish.
You should keep in mind that by the nature of their design, fillet knives are fragile and prone to chipping if improperly used. Ensure you always properly use your knife, and regularly sharpen it with a whetstone when the edge dulls.
Unlike kitchen blades, fillet knives are often used outside of the kitchen. Many anglers take fillet knives with them on the ocean to prepare a fish on the boat. Because of this, the tool must withstand the rigors of outdoor use.
Even if you are only planning to use the knife in the kitchen, it is vital to purchase a corrosion-resistant knife. Fillet knives are exposed to water, particularly salt water, more often than other blades. If not made from the proper materials, they will quickly deteriorate. Make sure your fillet knife is high-carbon stainless steel before purchasing.
There are three main types of handles on the market, and choosing yours is mostly a matter of preference. Knives typically come with either wooden, rubber, or plastic handles. The primary deciding factor is often comfort in the hand.
Wood handles are typically the most comfortable to hold but tend to get slippery when wet. Plastic and rubber handles give a better grip but are more prone to breaking over time.
As for me, I love the wooden handles on my knives. I get my best grip with them, and I find them the most comfortable. Of course, there is a certain aesthetic charm to a quality wood handle.
Choosing Between a Japanese and German Knife
Anyone who has been around kitchen knives long enough will know they typically come in two main styles: German and Japanese. Everyone has their preference, and both models have benefits.
German knives are heavier and larger than their Japanese counterparts. They have a double-beveled blade, allowing you to sharpen both sides. The steel used in these knives is often slightly softer than Japanese steel.
Japanese knives boast a single-beveled design and are typically lighter. They have a thinner blade with a smaller angle, making it better for precision cutting. The hard steel in its construction makes Japanese knives sharper than their German counterparts.
So which is better? Frankly, it is a matter of preference. I have used a Japanese knife for my cutting needs for the past few years and I’ve grown to appreciate its sharp and thin design. They are better for precision cutting, something I value as well.
German knives are more durable, and anyone planning on using them while out in the field. And if you aren’t worried about precise cuts, these knives are a worthwhile investment.
What Size of Knife Should I Use?
With so many varieties of fish in both freshwater and saltwater, it should come as no surprise that a one-knife-fits-all approach won’t work when filleting. Larger fish require a longer blade and vice versa.
When cutting perch, trout, mackerel, or walleye, use a shorter-length blade. A medium-length blade is great for salmon, while codfish, tuna, halibut, and catfish are best tackled with a longer blade.
If possible, you should try to purchase a few different sizes of fillet knives so you are ready for any situation and any fish on your cutting board.
Best Fillet Knives
Now that you know what to look for in a fillet knife, I will give you a few recommendations to get your shopping started on the right foot. There are a plethora of brands and models, so be sure to know what you value in your knife before starting your search.
The Wüsthof Classic Fish Fillet Knife is a premium choice. This German steel knife is flexible and perfect for filleting a fish. It is also corrosive resistant. It is an expensive option, but the quality is well worth it.
This 6-inch fillet knife from Shun is an excellent choice for chefs who want to try Japanese steel. It is razor-sharp and lightweight. The shorter blade makes it easier to use for beginners as well.
If you’re angling for some big game, this 9-inch behemoth from KastKing is a worthy investment. It’s perfect for cutting up tuna, but its long blade can make it difficult to wield. It is also a good budget option.
Conclusion: Fish Fillet Knives
Before purchasing a fillet knife, you should check three key factors. Ensure the blade is razor-sharp and the right size for the fish you will be cutting. The material should be corrosive-resistant and durable, and the handle should be comfortable and unlikely to slip. If you keep these in mind, you’re sure to find a great knife to use when fish is on the menu.