Best Fillet Knives

Updated July 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

58 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
193 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best fillet knives

Last Updated July 2019

Cooking show hosts may laud the chef’s knife as the heavyweight cutting implement in the kitchen, but the fillet knife quietly holds its place as the go-to blade when it comes to making precise cuts of meat or fish. On a whole fish, it can separate the fillet from the ribs, the backbone, and even the skin without damaging the delicate flesh.

Once cooks understand the versatility and fine control that a fillet knife provides, they’ll spend as much time as they need to find the perfect one. Even for the casual cook, a good fillet knife can be a game changer in the kitchen. And fillet knives are a standby for avid fishermen and hunters, who take them on every excursion.

However, a good fillet knife is not necessarily the biggest or thickest blade. Before you buy, consider what kind of protein you’ll be slicing with it — delicate fish, chicken, pork, or red meat — and how often it’ll be used.

To learn more, keep reading our shopping guide, which will help you choose the right fillet knife for your needs. If you’re ready to buy, consider one of our top picks.

Fillet knives can be used to precisely cut citrus fruit, separating the rind and bitter pith from the sweetest part of the fruit.

Key considerations

Length

Fillet knives come in several lengths, from as short as four inches to nine inches or longer. The shortest knives are good for slicing small fillets from panfish and for decorative cuts, while longer knives work for larger fish. But these aren’t hard-and-fast rules. A wide variance in blade flexibility, the overall knife balance, and other factors can change the behavior of a fillet knife, and it’s not unusual to see a cook trimming and filleting a piece of poultry or fish with a shorter or longer blade than one might think.

Home vs. outdoor use

Where the fillet knife will be used also matters. Home-based cooks may not need to worry about how well a knife is constructed, but fishermen and hunters need a blade that won’t rust in damp environments, that will hold its edge for several uses, and a handle that won’t warp or mildew.

Features

Not sure how to choose the best fillet knife for your needs? Here are the main features to consider:

  • Handle: Designed to be sturdy without hindering control of the knife, the handle should fit the user’s hand and feel comfortable when held lightly or with a firm grip. Handles are made of an array of materials, including wood, bone, metal, or plastic.

  • Guard: Located between the handle and the blade, the guard, often just a metal “lip” extending from the handle, keeps fingers from sliding forward onto the blade.

  • Blade: Fillet knife blades can be found in varying lengths ranging from four to nine inches (even longer for professional and industrial uses). The blade usually curves upward slightly toward the tip.

  • Taper: The point of a fillet knife tapers sharply down to the tip. Contemporary fillet knives tend to curve sharply upward as they taper, a shape that lends itself well to detail work.

  • Tip: The tip of the knife is always sharply pointed and can be used to remove tiny bones from fillets.

  • Thickness: Fillet knives have thinner blades than other knives of the same length.

  • Flexibility: This is a key feature of a fillet knife. A flexible blade can bend slightly around tougher parts of a fish so that as much of the meat as possible is separated from the bones in the first cut. Fillet knives have varying degrees of flexibility, and each user has a preference.

  • Stiffness: Fillet knife blades can have more stiffness than flexibility, and the best knives find a balance between these traits, with more stiffness in the blade near the handle and more flexibility toward the tip. A more rigid blade helps when making super thin slices.
EXPERT TIP

Keep the fillet knife blade very sharp. A properly sharpened blade cuts more easily, allowing for more precise work — and better control reduces the chance of the blade slipping and injuring the user.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

The more flexible the knife, the faster it can lose its edge.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

When filleting fish using the single-cut method, wear a Kevlar glove on the non-cutting hand to provide extra protection should the blade slip.


Staff  | BestReviews

Fillet knife prices

Fillet knives can be found for as little as $5 to $9, though the knives at this price point tend to lose their edge easily and little attention is paid to ergonomics. Hunt for knives from $19 to $39 for a range of grips, weather-resistance (for fishing and hunting), and flexibility with good feedback. The best blades can be found in the $70 to $119 price range, with the best of this group balancing practicality and attractive design.

Tips

  • The smaller the blade length of a fillet knife, the smaller the fish should be.

  • Longer fillet knives can make it easier to remove the skin from a fillet.

  • Keep the knife blade sharp at all times to maintain control of the cuts.

  • When filleting, slide the knife gently between the meat and the bones so that the meat separates. Otherwise, the knife may slice through the bone.

  • To remove skin from fish or poultry, turn the newly cut fillet so the skin side is on the cutting board and ease the fillet knife between the meat and skin, pushing away from you.

  • Grip a fillet knife firmly but not too tightly and keep your wrist loose during use.

  • Always cut away from your body when using any knife.

  • Clean and dry a fillet knife completely before storing it in its sheath, knife block, or edge protector.

  • Using a knife on a fishing trip? Store it in a dry spot, such as the large compartment of a tackle box.

Other products we considered

We were impressed with the KastKing Fillet Knife for its weather-resistant blade and high-visibility grip, making it perfect for on-the-water use. The Meyerco Fish Fillet Knife Set instantly provides two sturdy blades for skinning and filleting, though they don’t hold their edge for long — which isn’t surprising due its bargain price. We also liked the Dalstrong Gladiator Series fillet knife, which was satisfying to hold and nicely balanced, making filleting a pleasure.

Fishermen should consider owning two fillet knives: a straighter medium-length fillet knife for cutting fillets and a longer, more flexible knife for separating skin from the fillet.

FAQ

Q. How do I figure out how flexible a fillet knife blade is?
A.
Test the flexibility of a fillet knife by placing the blade on its side on a cutting board, facing away from the user. Lift the handle so that only the tip rests on the board. Press down gently to flex the blade downward.

Q. What advantages does a fillet knife have over a boning knife or a hybrid knife?
A.
The difference is in the purpose of each blade. The flexible fillet knife is thin enough to slide easily between the skin and the meat of a fish or poultry. Boning knives have stiffer, thicker blades that can tear through the skin, making it much harder to separate from the meat. However, cooks who fillet meat, poultry, and fish, and who don’t want to keep switching from one blade to another, may prefer a hybrid boning-fillet knife.

Q. What is the point of the upward taper that fillet knife blades have?
A.
The curved end of the fillet knife blade and its severe taper make it possible to perform intricate cuts. The curve can even be used as a unit of measure, as it begins at the last third of the blade. For example, when filleting a panfish, making an initial cut along the backbone is recommended, and the tapered end is the best part of the knife to make this shallow cut. The upward taper is helpful in decorative cutting of vegetables and fruit, letting the user make precise, curved slices.

The team that worked on this review
  • Angela
    Angela
    Editor
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Kailey
    Kailey
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Samantha
    Samantha
    Writer

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