The single most important thing to remember is that a good fillet knife provides a sharp edge that will be used to separate the fish fillet from the fish so that you can enjoy the rewards of your catch. These knives can be made from different types of metal or steel, preferably a stainless steel alloy that will hold its sharp edge through many cleanings. You will find a variety of fixed bladed knives in various lengths. Fixed blade fillet knives require you to provide the power. You will also find 3 types of electric fillet knives:
Selecting your fillet knife is like selecting a friend - choose one that is comfortable in your hands, one that you feel you can safely clean your fish. It is also important to maintain a sharp edge by using a knife sharpener, or an electric knife sharpener so that you cut smoothly, safely and quickly. Keeping the blades clean and dry during storage will increase the life of your blades.
More fish are filleted with fixed blades because they are easy to carry and can be used anywhere without worry of a plug in. There are as many opinions as to which one is best as there are people who use them. The differences are in the quality of the blade, the length, how flexible the blade is, and what the handle is made of.
You will find fixed blade fillet knives made from wood, composite, rubber and a variety of plastics. Your decision should be made by feel and cost. If you clean a lot of fish you can opt for a more expensive hardened steel blade which will hold its sharp edge longer. Sooner or later all blades will need to be sharpened before usage.
Pick one up and get started! Sharpen before each fillet session, clean and dry your knife before storage and you knife will work and last you a long time.
There are a number of electric models on the market to choose from. The biggests difference between them is their electric motor. The motors differ in their power, sturdiness, and dependability. Some will get almost too hot to hold if you fillet more than 8-10 fish right after one another. They all feature tandem cutting blades that are serrated and provide a cutting motion that goes through the fish and its bones with less effort than the fixed blade knife. This can make the fillet process go faster and easier. However, when first learning to use the electric fillet knife go slow at first because you could accidentally go too far and cut through the backbone and actually cut the fish in half.
These are four good knives to consider. We at PFT tend to prefer the Mister Twister knife for its power, comfort, and ability to fillet a lot of fish and not get hot. Other than this the only other issues with electric knives are: 1) not having access to a 110 volt outlet and 2) experience - until you get comfortable you can cut through your fish very quickly. Go slow! Many anglers use electric because they will cut through scales, bones and many fish safer, faster and with less effort.
TWO WAY Fillet® is now available!
We at PFT have been privileged to field test the TWO WAY Fillet™ system. They are now commercially available at Scheels in Overland Park, KS as well as West Des Moines. Also you can view TWO WAY Fillet® a variety of sport shows this spring including: St Paul and Milwaukee Ice fishing shows, Novi Ultimate fishing show, KC - St Louis and Northwest Sport shows and a number of others. Here is their web site/store:
These two models by Mr Twister are the ones we at PFT have found most effective with great price points. They feature more power and torque than most other electric knives that are available. Also, they do not get hot even after cleaning many fish. The company stands behind their product as well.
The Electric Fisherman has become the number one requested electric fillet knife because of its strength, comfort, durability, warranty and value. Its heavy duty motor achieved a best in class number of cutting cycles per minute when combined with the extra sharp stainless steel blades means you will fillet your fish like cutting through butter. If you have not tried one you should - click on the image above.
With 25% more torque and 15% more speed than most other knifes the Piranha will handle the job of the most demanding fish with scales and bones that are tough. The coiled electric cord helps keep it out of the way when cleaning your fish. Mister Twister's own comment that the Piranha is "Bad to the Bone!" has been confirmed by us here at PFT.
Keeping an extra set of new blades on hand is a good idea, in you drop, bend, or loose your primary set. You can also find kits that provide you a carrying case or improvise as shown in the picture above and buy a toiletries bag that can carry all your fillet supplies in one case. The black case in the top photo is a toiletry case that is readily available in retail outlets and holds 2 electric knives and blades, a hand held knife sharpener, 2 fixed blade knives, and a pair of Kevlar gloves - quite handy to have everything in one place. This case was found at Bed, Bath and Beyond.
Sometimes a 110 volt outlet is hard to find and having a battery powered knife handy is a big help. Here is great branded 12 volt knife that can be used boat side when faced with that situation. Keeping a fillet board on your boat will let you fillet your fish under virtually any circumstance. This Berkley kit can be plugged into a 12 volt outlet, clipped to a 12 volt battery or even plugged into a 110 outlet with its 12 volt converter.
Also available are Rechargeable Battery Fillet Knives. One advantage is no longer being tied to either a 110 volt outlet or a 12 volt battery. If you were going on a back pack trip and wanted to fillet one fish and have for lunch, this would be the electric knife to take. A fixed blade knife will also work and be less weight to carry. A disadvantage can be that these batteries may become discharged before you are done with the job and they can eventually wear out and have to be replaced.
How often should you sharpen your knife edges? That depends on just how often you use your knives, how many bones you have cut through, and the surfaces you have cleaned your fish. Once a year you should consider doing a more thorough job using an electric sharpener, but before each fillet session you should pass the edge over a fine surfaced manual sharpener.