Best Fillet Knife

Choosing A Fillet Knife

best fillet knife

What Is The Best Fillet Knife For Cleaning Fish

I was a young boy when my dad decided that all fish would be filleted. If it wasn’t big enough to use a fillet knife we put it back. I do remember scaling and gutting all of our fish. My sister and my mom and I would be up late cleaning fish this way after a long day of crappie fishing in Tennessee. We used spoons to scale the fish. Mom cut the heads off and removed the guts. We didn’t even know what a fillet knife was. We used a butcher knife to clean our fish before stuffing them into waxed milk cartons filled with water, to keep the oxygen out. I must admit that I have begun to process a few panfish this way just to reminisce and found it to be delicious cooked this way. Nonetheless, I still use a fillet knife for 98% of our catch.

Many Brands And Styles Of Fillet Knives Offered Today

What is the best fillet knife today? There are so many options to choose from it can get crazy when deciding. Do you want to use an old-school fillet knife or do you prefer an electric fillet knife for your catch? After years of using an old-school knife, it was difficult to change over to an electric knife. I butchered a lot of fish when I was learning to master the electric fillet knife. I watched anglers at the cleaning station zipping through a mess of crappie in record time. The fillets were so nice I knew I had to conquer it.

I was finally able to get the electric knife figured out. I still grab the standby Rapala fixed blade fillet knife when I have just a few fish to clean and that works fine. However, I must admit I prefer the electric fillet knife over the standard fillet knife any day.

Over the years I have used many different brands and styles of fillet knives. In this article, I hope to help you choose the best fillet knife for your style of fishing and needs. I will explain the different options available today for anglers who clean their own fish. I will describe the differences in functionality, durability and price point differences so that you can decide for yourself what style and brand is the best fillet knife for you.

What Is A Fillet Knife

Fillet Knife: A knife, usually used in fish cleaning, but can be used for intricate cuts on other foods. It has a long narrow blade and is the perfect choice for making clean cuts. The pointed tip is ideal from removing bones or skinning game. 

Types Of Fillet Knives

  • Cordless Fillet Knife
  • Electric Fillet Knife With Cord
  • Flex Blade Fillet Knife
  • Rigid Blade Fillet Knife

Cordless Fillet knife

In today’s technological world so many things have become cordless. The increase in battery capacities has allowed us to create things that run on battery power that we would have never thought of just a few years ago. This is so true with fillet knives today. As the technology improves more and more companies are adding these knives to their existing lineup giving you several options to choose from. I have to admit that I have yet to use any of the cordless fillet knives available today but one is on my Christmas list for sure.

Really the only thing that might get in the way of owning a cordless fillet knife is the price. If an electric fillet knife is something you want to use to clean your fish then a cordless is a great option. It is great to just grab a knife and clean a few fish without fighting a long cord or extension cord. These cords pull at the knife if you don’t have enough slack. The other great thing about these battery-operated fillet knives is the fact that you don’t have to worry about power. You can clean your fish in a camp off the grid where power is unavailable. This can come in handy. Here is a few cordless fillet knife options for you to consider.

Bubba Li-Ion Cordless

  • Dimensions are 8.5 inch handle length and weigh about a pound
  • It sports a non-slip handle for outstanding grip and security providing excellent knife control and has a trigger guard for added safety
  • This knife is durable with a dual riveted blade design coated with stainless steel
  • Features an ergonomic trigger
  • Convenient with removable blades for easy cleaning
  • The Bubba can be stored in a special section of the zippered storage case
  • The handle features a battery life indicator to let you know when it’s time to charge 
  • This Bubba blade cordless knife includes: 7” E-FLEX, 9” E-FLEX, 9” E-STIFF and 12” E-STIFF blades, a wall charger for the two included lithium ion batteries
  • Premium case to store your fillet knife

Rapala Lithium Ion Cordless Fillet Knife Combo

Lithium Ion batteries provide a consistent speed and torque from fillet to fillet. Lithium Ion batteries keep the full power all the way till it dies. This keeps the filet knife from having reduced power or slowing down as its battery charge wanes. The Rapala battery produces 80 continuous minutes of run-time per battery without any loss of power. The Combo pack includes a Cordless knife, 2 Lithium Ion batteries, 2 each 6″ & 7-1/2″ reciprocating style blades, wall charger, all packed into the convenient padded storage bag. The comfortable, relaxed grip provides fatigue-free filleting fish. The advanced air flow body design keeps the motor running cool and smooth. Great anywhere you need a knife.

  • Rechargeable Lithium Ion Battery Pack
  • Advanced Air Flow Design For Motor Longevity
  • 80 Minute Full Runtime
  • Relaxed And Comfortable Grip
  • 7″ Reciprocating Blades
  • Quiet Motor
  • AC Battery Charger
  • One Year Warranty

110 Volt Electric Fillet Knives

If the price point has you shying away from the cordless knives for now then there is a great option for you. A corded fillet knife costs roughly half of what lithium knives cost. A corded fillet knife is a great option and is what I have used for years. I have had a Rapala electric fillet knife for many years and it is still going strong. There are other knives that work great and one stands out and that is the Mister Twister electric knife. I used this knife many years ago.

I thought this fillet knife was not being produced any longer. That is until I went fishing with some childhood buddies this year. Out came the old-school green and yellow Mister Twister electric fisherman. I was flabbergasted at the sight. I asked them if they still made them and they told me yep and they are still the best electric knife for the money.

Mister Twister 120V Electric Knife

This is the most affordable electric fillet knife you will find. I can vouch for this knife as I have used them many years ago. They are still a very durable option and the most economically priced electric fillet knife. I remember my dad buying the first one we had and saying well it costs so little we can just throw it away and get another one if it breaks. Guess what? It lasted many years. Back then we caught a lot of fish and they all got filleted. While I like my Rapala fillet knife both electric and standard this Mister Twister is a great fillet knife and one that I can recommend. The Mister Twister electric knife 110V mister twister-1201 30% has more power and features 50% more cutting torque with heavy-duty gears and bearings with a relaxed designed grip.

  • Legendary Mister Twister Name
  • 110V AC
  • Convenient blade release
  • Safety lock

American Angler PRO Electric Fillet Knife

The new American Angler Pro is our most powerful knife. With 2X the torque and smooth and consistent filleting, the only thing slowing this knife down is how long it takes to land your catch. This product includes 5 blades: (1) 10″ Saltwater Blade, (1) 5.5″ Curved Tip Blade Replacement, (1) 8″ Curved Tip Blade Replacement, (1) 10″ Heavy Duty Shark Blade Replacement, and (1) 8″ Heavy Duty Shark Blade Replacement.
  • Fillet with Ease: The PRO Series motor boasts 2X more torque than any other “Heavy-Duty” EFK so big bones never slow you down.
  • Fillet Season After Season: Superior components and design give this knife a better lifespan of any other electric knife
  • Advanced airflow design keeps the PRO Series ergonomic grip cool for hours of continuous filleting.
  • Commercial Fishermen and Guides choose the American Angler PRO more than any other knife.
  • Backed by a 2-Year Limited Lifetime Warranty.

Rapala Heavy Duty Electric Fillet Knife

The Rapala Heavy Duty Electric Fillet Knife gives you more power resulting in excellent control when filleting even large fish. You can easily cut through bones and make fast work of walleye, salmon, trout, crappie, catfish, and other large fish. Dishwasher-safe 7-1/2 inch reciprocating blades are included with the Rapala Heavy Duty Electric Fillet Knife. These blades are the perfect size for almost all filleting needs. Vibration is reduced by the custom airflow design. This design also keeps the motor running smoothly and cool. The comfortable grip provides fatigue-free filleting and the 8-foot cord gives you plenty of room for working around the fillet station.

  • Made of the highest quality material
  • Rapala heavy-duty electric Fillet knife
  • Heavy Duty Motor
  • 7 1/2″ dishwasher-safe blades
  • Twice the speed and three times the power of other electric fillet knives

best fillet knife

Electric vs Fixed Blade

There are still anglers that refuse to make the change to an electric knife. I can’t say I blame them but I did finally make the switch. I’m glad I did. The learning curve might be an easy one for some. I can relate to those that just can’t seem to get the hang of them because of how long it took me to get the hang of the electric knife.

I will add that as a bowhunter I have some pretty good patience. However, I lost that patience with those electric knife contraptions for several years before it clicked. So don’t feel bad if you just don’t care for an electric fillet knife as you are not alone. There are great fixed-bladed fillet knives out there and they get the job done. Here are a couple of those great knives to choose from.

Rapala Fish ‘N Fillet Knife with Sheath

It is no mistake that I lead with this old-school fillet knife. This knife has been the go-to fish cleaning knife for many years. The new knives are produced with great gripping rubber handles. Fancy steel-bladed fillet knives can still be found on many fish cleaning tables. The quality and sharpness is hard to beat and the price is also very acceptable for what you get. The sheath is fine and functional and the durability is still there.

How to Get Fishy Taste Out of Catfish


  • Classic birch handle
  • Progressively tapered and full-tang blade
  • Safety notch secures tang to the brass ferrule
  • Each Fish ‘n Fillet features a full-tang Swedish stainless steel blade with the classic Rapala reinforced birch varnished handle
  • The genuine leather sheath and single-stage sharpener is a great addition
  • It’s the “go-to” fillet knife in the world of fishing

BUBBA 9 Inch Tapered Flex Fillet Knife

  • 15-inch overall length with a 9-inch blade
  • Non-Slip grip for safe filleting provides ultimate knife control with a trigger grip
  • Features safety guards for protection from the blade
  • Ideal for precision fillets, a super thin blade allows you to easily remove meat without loss
  • The rust-resistant blade cuts through scales easily
  • Extra sharp makes starting your cut a breeze
  • Sheath with a belt loop for hands-free carry

Flex vs Rigid Blade

I want to add some info for those wondering which blade they need to clean the fish they catch. The most popular blade for cleaning fish is probably the flex blade. There is a place for each type of blade. Flexible blades are used for smaller fish. Small fish have smaller bones and often need a little more finesse when cleaning. The fillet is removed by precisely slicing the meat from the ribcage and other bones. The flex blades are thinner. Therefore, they don’t have the power to cut through bones especially large bones like those found in salmon.

Rigid blade knives are best suited for larger fish, like salmon. I lived on a boat in Alaska and traveled throughout Alaska for 20 years catching salmon and halibut, I found that many anglers use rigid style blades to clean fish lightning fast. I have to say that while I did use a rigid blade on many occasions I still preferred the flex blade. It took me longer to clean fish. Like the electric knife, I never could get the hang of zipping through a big fish with a rigid blade.

A rigid blade is thicker and will hold an edge longer. Use a fillet knife for cutting through the ribcage and other bones. I will say if you want to make short work out of a 15-pound salmon practice with the rigid blade knife. Google some commercial salmon processor videos and watch how easy and fast they make it look. It is amazing.

Video Showing How to Fillet a Fish

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About Ken McBroom 307 Articles
Ken McBroom is an accomplished outdoor writer and photographer. Growing up in Lynchburg Tennessee allowed him many opportunities afield as a boy and young man. Later in life, after Desert Storm, Ken’s wanderlust took him to Alaska to live and work and experience the last frontier. Married now with two beautiful children, Ken now calls Kentucky home where he continues to communicate our American outdoor traditions and the lifestyle it offers.

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