Choosing a Fish Fillet KnifeOne of the most important tools to invest in for fishing is a really good fillet knife. Once you finish a great day of fishing, it’s now time to prepare the fish for cooking, or storage to cook later. One thing you don’t want to have is a bad fillet knife that makes it harder to clean your fish, or that causes you to waste a lot of the fish meat. A great fillet knife is easy to guide right through the meat, bending around the bones, to give you perfect fish fillets. For me, it’s also a matter of speed. When I get done with a day of fishing, I want to fillet my fish quickly. I don’t want to struggle with cleaning a fish with a bad fillet knife, causing me to have fillets coming out in chunks and pieces as I struggle through cleaning my catch. As the old saying goes, you get what you pay for. The good news is that you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a really good fillet knife. Electric vs ManualThe first decision that you have to make is whether you want an electric fillet knife, or a manual traditional style fillet knife. This is more of a matter of personal preference because there are positives and negatives for either style of knives. A good quality electric fillet knife is typically more expensive that a good quality manual type fillet knife. The electric fillet knife will require a power source or battery to run. The electric fillet knives are typically a bit bulkier than the traditional manual style. An electric fillet knife can be quicker and plow through large fish, but a manual fillet knife would be more thorough in getting all the meat in a fillet swipe as they can get in there and grab all that meat with the fillet. Many fishermen tend to buy both types of knives so that they can fillet the larger bigger boned fish with the help of the powered blades, and a manual knife for cleaning smaller fish or smaller boned fish for more targeted precise cuts through the fish. Knife BladeOne of the most critical components of a fillet knife is the blade. It’s important to find a knife that is flexible so that it can bend around the bones and fins of the fish to give you a clean cut, saving as much of the meat as possible as part of the fillet. The blade thickness should be thin, which gives the blade the flex that it needs to do the best job. The blade needs to be strong, and keep a sharp edge to be able to cut through the fish like a butter knife through a softened stick of butter. The blade needs to be durable to last for generations. The blade should also be the right length for the fish that you are cleaning. Blade LengthThe length of the blade is important to match to the type and size of the fish. Blade length’s typically range from four to twelve inches. The shorter blades are great for panfish, and small trout, the medium lengths for largemouth bass and larger trout, while the longest blades are great for striped bass, salmon, and steelhead. The larger girth of the fish, the wider the fillets will be, which will require a longer blade. Knife Blade MaterialsOne of the best materials used for manufacturing knife blades is a good high quality stainless steel. For the wear and tear that the typical knife goes through, along with the wet environments that a filet knife is commonly exposed to, a stainless steel blade is a great choice. Stainless steel won’t corrode, won’t warp, and won’t tarnish, plus the blade is easy to clean and to keep clean. As for cosmetics, they also shine up nice and look great. Knife HandleIt’s critical to keep a good hold on any knife, and a fillet knife is no exception. When cleaning fish it’s guaranteed that your hands will be wet, cold, and slimy as it’s hard to avoid getting your hands dirty while you are cleaning fish. Because of that, it’s important to have a fillet knife that has a non-slip grip that is comfortable to hold and provides stability and control while gliding through the fish. You should get a grip that is comfortable to hold and allows for a firm grip to remain in full control of the knife at all times. A comfortable grip also lessens the fatigue that can set in if you are cleaning a full limit of fish or two as well. So it’s more than a safety concern, it’s also a concern about comfort. Knife handles can be made of many different materials. A wood handle, for example, though it may look nice, they can be less comfortable to hold, can become slippery, and can start to wear and crack over time without the proper maintenance. If you use a wood handle, I would recommend using gloves to make the knife more comfortable and less slippery. Rubber and Plastic handles are easier to maintain, and are typically less slippery. Any knife handle can last generations under proper care and maintenance. Knife SheathA good knife sheath to protect your knife is important for the knife to last and for good safety measure to prevent accidents. Knife sheath’s can be made from many different materials including plastic, nylon, and leather. Plastic is easier to keep clean, and will typically last as long as the knife does. Leather sheaths require some upkeep for longevity and to keep them looking nice. Both nylon and leather can collect and retain moisture, which can damage the blade and sheath over time. A good knife sheath should have vents or openings to allow the water out and the air in to keep the knife dry. It’s important to clean your knife before putting it in the sheath so that you don’t put guts and fish parts or juices inside the sheath where it’s hard to get out. The type of knife sheath is mostly a matter of personal preference, and which type you feel looks and feels better to you.Plastic is the easiest to keep clean with less wear and tear over time, but you can also take precautions if you decide to go with vinyl or leather by cleaning and drying the knife before putting it back in the sheath and keeping it protected from the elements to keep the sheath in good shape. Knife WarrantyMany good quality knives will last for generations. But, just in case you have any issues with the knife, it may be a good idea to buy a knife from a company that has been manufacturing knives for generations, and will back the quality of their knife by providing a lifetime warranty. Made in the USAThough you can find good quality knives made throughout the world, I have found that the quality and craftsmanship in some of the leading manufacturers of knives Made in the USA are truly of the best quality. I also found that the fish like them more as they have an increased desire to bite my baited hook, and lures, since buying my favorite fillet knife that was Made in the USA. Ok, I made that last part up!Electric and Cordless Fillet Knife•Bubba Lithium Ion Cordless Fish Fillet Knife•Rapala Lithium Ion Cordless Fish Fillet Knife Combo•American Angler Pro Titanium Electric Fish Fillet Knife•Bubba 110V Electric Fillet KnifeCuda and Bubba Fillet Knife•Cuda 9 inch Titanium Non Stick Professional Serrated Fillet Knife with Sheath•Cuda Titanium Non Stick Professional Wide Fillet Knife with Sheath•Bubba Flex Blade Fish Fillet Knife•Bubba Stiff Blade Fish Fillet Knife•Cuda 6 Piece Fisherman’s Knife Set•Bubba Lucky Lew 7 inch Folding Fillet Knife•Bubba Tapered Blade Flex Fillet Knife•Cuda 6 inch Titanium Non Stick Professional Curved Boning Knife with Sheath•Smith’s Lawaia Fish Fillet Knife•Smith’s Mr. Crappie Curved Slab Sticker Fillet Knife•Smith’s Baitbreaker Coated Bait Knife•Smith’s Regal River Fillet Knife•Offshore Angler Pro Fillet Knife•Rapala Folding Fish Pro Fillet Knife•Smith’s Regal River Baitbreaker Bait Knife•Cuda Titanium Bonded Wide Fillet KnifeDisclosure: This post is brought to you by the Mendenhall Outdoors team. 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