Is there anything better than tucking into a fish dinner, carefully filleted and prepared by yourself? After a long day fishing, we can’t think of anything better. Except it can all go wrong with the wrong flick of a blade.

For fish you need a fillet knife to get the job done properly. And, when it comes to choosing the best fillet knife, you’re in for a real treat. Many of the blades on our list are hand-carved or are made with traditional techniques passed down through centuries of hunters.

Feast your eyes on these top 10 professional fillet knives or scroll down to our Fillet Knife Buyer’s Guide for a little advice on which knife you should pick.

Fillet Knives Comparison
  • Swiss stainless steel
  • 6 inch blade
  • Made in Switzerland
  • Layered stainless steel
  • 6 inch blade
  • Made in Japan
  • Japanese stainless steel
  • 8 inch blade
  • Made in Taiwan
  • German 5Cr15Mov stainless-steel
  • 8 inch blade
  • Made in China
  • Semi-stainless alloy steel
  • 7.5 inch blade
  • Made in USA

The 10 Best Fillet Knives

1. Victorinox Swiss Army Fillet Knife

  • Blade Material: Swiss stainless-steel
  • Blade Measurements: 6 inches
  • Handle Material: Plastic, Fibrox Pro
  • Country of Origin: Switzerland
  • Flexible, non-flexible, straight and curved options available

The Victorinox knife collection is renowned for sleek, lightweight stainless-steel and their patented Fibrox Pro handles. Their knives, including this Swiss Army Fillet Knife, are superb for trimming, slicing, carving and boning. The handles are super grippy and are ergonomically designed, while the blades are very light. European stainless-steel (constructed into the blade in Switzerland) is lighter than ordinary stainless-steel, giving you more control.

The Swiss Army Fillet Knife is available in 4 options – curved flexible, curved stiff, straight flexible, straight stiff. We tested the curved and flexible blade but most people advise buying one straight and one curved, so you have a knife ready for any task.

These knives are ideal for thinner cuts of meat and fish. The flexible knives are best for filleting, boning and trimming fat as they allow greater precision and different angles. The stiff knives are more multi-purpose and will be great for slicing and carving too. Curved knives are best for maneuvering around bone joints.

2. Shun Cutlery Classic Japanese Boning and Fillet Knife

  • Blade Material: Layered stainless-steel (Damascus cladding)
  • Blade Measurements: 6 inches
  • Handle Material: Pakkawood (wood/resin mix)
  • Country of Origin: Japan
  • Handcrafted using traditional Japanese methods

The Shun Cutlery Classic is a fine boning and fillet knife with some impressive features combining traditional Japanese style with modern innovation. The 6-inch curved blade is designed specifically for separating meat from bone and can be used by anyone. You don’t need to be a knife expert or butcher… although a keen awareness of just how amazingly sharp these knives are should be essential.

Key features include a cutting core at the center of the blade, with 34 layers of stainless-steel on either side. This adds extra stain and corrosion resistance. It also has a D shaped handle made from Pakkawood which is great for right-handed people… lefties might find it a bit awkward to grip.

Pakkawood is a mix of hardwood and resin, creating a waterproof and extremely sturdy material that still feels as luxurious as wood – not plastic. This also means it will survive the dishwasher, unlike many wooden knife handles.

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3. Mercer Culinary M23860

  • Blade Material: Japanese stainless-steel
  • Blade Measurements: 8 inches
  • Handle Material: Plastic (santoprene and polypropylene)
  • Country of Origin: America (but made in Taiwan)
  • Exceptional value for money

If you’re searching for very niche knives with specific lengths, thicknesses and shapes, you’ll usually have to pay more. That’s why we are impressed with Mercer’s offering. This is the 8-inch narrow fillet knife is beautifully designed and ideal for filleting meat and large fish.

It’s made from a single sheet of Japanese steel, designed by the American company Mercer Culinary, then manufactured in Taiwan. It’s exceptionally narrow and slender, especially compared to the Shun and Victorinox knives. And yes, it’s unbelievably sharp too. Expect a trip to the emergency room for some stitches if you slice open your finger with this one.

It’s nothing fancy and it certainly doesn’t feel luxury thanks to the cheap plastic, ergonomic handle. But if you need to build up a decent knife collection quickly and affordably, Mercer Culinary are our top choice. There are also 6-inch curved, flexible, stiff and narrow boning knives in this collection.

4. Paudin Fillet & Boning Knife

  • Blade Material: German 5Cr15Mov stainless-steel
  • Blade Measurements: 8 inches
  • Handle Material: Pakkawood (wood/resin mix)
  • Country of Origin: China
  • Great multi-use knife for all kitchen use

This is our top beginner’s choice fillet knife because it’s budget-friendly and is multipurpose. So, if your dreams of fishing and filleting your catch by the lakeside don’t quite pan out, you can still get lots of use from this knife back home.

Paudin have a range of knives available, all made to look like Damascus stainless-steel (the superior stainless-steel for knives) but they’re actually German stainless-steel. It’s still food-grade and very sharp but this is how they’ve managed to bring the price down so much!

The 8-inch N1 Chef Knife is a good one to start with, especially for boning meat. For thinner filleting, take a look at the 3.5-inch N8 Paring Knife. It’s much smaller and is slender enough to handle filleting fish.

All in all, the Paudin filleting knives are decent quality, easy to handle and won’t break your budget. If you want to start filleting but aren’t ready to hand over a ton of money for a single knife, this is your best option.

5. Leech Lake Handmade Fillet Knife

  • Blade Material: high-carbon semi-stainless alloy steel
  • Blade Measurements: 7.5 inches
  • Handle Material: Pakkawood (wood/resin mix)
  • Country of Origin: Iowa, USA
  • Handmade and designed for fish filleting

This is the kind of filleting knife your grandfather used. Razor sharp, perfectly shaped and as durable as the mountains. It’s going to be around for a long while! If you want a classic, sturdy and reliable filleting knife then this is a great option.

The Leech Lake Fillet Knife has a sharpened hook end which is ideal for filleting fish but can also be good for boning meat and working around joints.

At 7.5 inches long, it’s good for all fish types unless you come across a particularly small bluegill – in which case, better to throw it back. The knife comes with a sheaf included in the price to keep it safe. If you clean this fillet knife thoroughly before storing it, there’s no reason it can’t last you a lifetime.

A seriously good knife worth considering if you have a large budget, as we’re talking $100+ just for this knife alone.

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6. Fish Elite Fillet Knife

  • Blade Material: Stainless-steel
  • Blade Measurements: 9 inches
  • Handle Material: Rubber
  • Country of Origin: China
  • Protective nylon case included for the knife

The Fish Elite Fillet Knife is razor sharp and blood red – which is actually useful, rather than just a way to make it look “cooler”. You certainly won’t mistakenly grab the blade of this knife or lose it amongst your fishing gear.

The 9-inch stainless-steel blade is flexible and offset against the handle. It takes a few attempts to get used to it, but once you’ve practiced you’ll find that this design allows for better accuracy and precision. It works wonders for fish filleting but you will want a different tool for boning and filleting tougher meats.

The rubber grip is good and super-grippy… but is it as enhanced and elite as they describe? No. Is it good enough to rely on to get the job done? Hell yes.

Fish Elite’s Fillet Knife is, at first glance, a flashy and modern filleting tool with many features. But at a closer look we found it to be a sturdy, reliable and decent knife that’s great for the more experienced filleter.

7. Opinel Slim Series Folding Knife

  • Blade Material: Sandvik 12C27 modified stainless-steel
  • Blade Measurements: 6 inches
  • Handle Material: Bubinga/Padouk or olivewood
  • Country of Origin: France
  • Great knives fold up for safe pocket storage

The Opinel Slim folding knives are beautifully crafted for filleting. We reviewed the No. 15 folding fillet knife which is 6 inches long, but the shorter knives can also be used for filleting smaller fish as they are equally thin and sharp. The smallest is No. 8, which is just 3.25 inches long.

If you want to keep your kit as small and as light as possible, these fillet knives are the way to go. The folding design saves space and the hollowed-out handles to fit the blades when closed are supremely light.

The blades are narrow and flexible but not too curved that they can’t be used to cut up fruit and veggies at home too. The smaller knives are best for this, while the longer ones are best for fish.

Our final thoughts are about the handle. You have a choice of bubinga/padouk or olivewood. It’s treated wood, so it won’t wear down super-fast but it’s not plastic coated like pakkawood either. If slippery hands are a concern, look for knives with rubber or silicone grip handles instead.

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8. KastKing 9 inch Fillet Knife

  • Blade Material: G4116 German stainless-steel
  • Blade Measurements: 9 inches
  • Handle Material: Polymer plastic
  • Country of Origin: Manufactured in China
  • Blade is perfect for saltwater fishing

The KastKing 9 inch fillet knife is a thick, sturdy filleting knife that’s perfect for larger fish like tuna and salmon. It’s also great for cutting meats and boning larger animals, as we found out when we tested it. What we were most impressed with on this knife was the handle. It has super grip and the bumpy ridge on the underside fits very comfortably in your hand.

When you’ve got a fillet knife in your hand that’s sharp enough to slice off a finger without you even feeling it, you want to make sure you have complete control. That’s what the polymer grip handle affords you. Seriously, it’s epic for precise filleting.

The last thing to note about this knife is the G4116 German stainless-steel. This particular type of stainless-steel is higher in chromium than most other food-grade steels used for knife blades, which means it’s even less corrosive and is the best option if it will be exposed to saltwater.

9. Tuo 6 inch Boning & Fillet Knife

  • Blade Material: Damascus high-carbon Japanese stainless-steel
  • Blade Measurements: 6 inches
  • Handle Material: Fiberglass
  • Country of Origin: Designed in Japan, made in China
  • Beautiful design makes it ideal as a fillet knife gift

The Tuo 6-inch boning and fillet knife is a wet dream come true. If you’re into knives and you sometimes dream about having the most beautiful, sleek, and sexy knife (yes, really) then this is the one for you.

It’s made with Japanese AUS10 Damascus stainless-steel that’s sent to China to be manufactured by the renowned Kitchen Knife Production Center in Yangjiang. The 6-ich boning blade has stunning swirls – a mark of true Damascus steel. The handle is also a work of art with military grade woven fiberglass, which is resistant to moisture, heat and cold temperatures. So, whether you’re in a sweaty hot kitchen or by the freezing cold side of a river, you’re still going to have perfect grip and complete control. We just wish it was a bit more ergonomic with dips and curves to sit comfortably in our hands.

Finally, check out the price. It’s going to be a lot lower than you’d expect for the level of craftsmanship shown.

10. Kyoku Daimyo Series Damascus Chef Knife

  • Blade Material: VG10 Japanese Damascus stainless-steel
  • Blade Measurements: 7 inches
  • Handle Material: Steel tang
  • Country of Origin: Japan
  • Arrives with a knife guide, lifetime warranty and gift box

Another beautiful knife from Japan. The Kyoku 7-inch boning and filleting blade is a full ‘tang’ knife, which simply means that it’s one long solid piece of stainless steel from the tip of the blade right through the handle. This provides better control and precision, plus the handle won’t start to come loose from too many trips in the dishwasher.

It’s made with genuine VG10 Japanese Damascus stainless-steel and has that iconic marbled effect on the blade to prove it. Other aesthetic treats include engraving on the rivet and mosaic pin plus a sleek knife guard included in the box.

It has a thicker feel to it, so it’s better for filleting and boning meat rather than small fishes.

We particularly liked that Kyoku included a knife guide in the box, just to make you aware of how best to use it, clean it, and how it was made. A nice touch that makes this another great contender to be a gift!

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Fillet Knife Buyer’s Guide

fillet knives

From straight to curved, stiff to flexible. What fillet knife is best for what you’re planning? Many generic kitchen knife sets contain the standard fillet and boning knife, a slim and very sharp blade that’s supposedly fit to do everything. But actually, it’s not. Traditionally, a boning knife and a fillet knife should be separate.

Boning knives should remove bones from meat. Fillet knives remove bones from fish to fillet them. With that in mind, choosing the blade type for either filleting fish or boning meat is your first important decision.

Blade – What to Look For

Fillet knife blades are long, very sharp and very thin. They are typically longer and thinner than a boning knife, which will have more weight and a slightly larger blade. The curve at the edge of the blade as it flicks upwards is important – this gives you more accuracy and reach when you’re filleting fish. The hook-style end of the blade is also good for boning as it helps you cut around joints smoothly.

The blade you need depends on the type of fish you’ll be filleting. Smaller fish with tighter bones will require a smaller, thinner knife that can accurately fillet it without completely tearing it to pieces. The smaller the fish, the more flexible your blade should be, as smaller fish will have tighter angles for you to work within and a flexible blade will enable you to fillet accurately.

Larger fish, like tuna and salmon, require a longer blade but it should still be flexible enough to navigate the bones as you’re filleting.

To put it simply. The smaller the fish, the thinner, shorter and more flexible the blade should be. The larger the fish, the longer the blade should be. All blades should be razor sharp.

If you only have the budget for 1 knife but plan to catch a plethora of fish at different sizes, go for a 7 to 8 inch fillet knife. This in-between size will give you the best chance of filleting correctly.

Steel is Steel, Right?

Damascus steel

Damascus Steel Blade

Actually, no. Stainless-steel is the only material you should be considering for a fillet knife. It’s resistant to corrosion and staining, suitable to go in the dishwasher and will be flexible when the blade is extremely thin.

But stainless-steel is an alloy of iron, meaning it’s mixed with other metals. To be classified as stainless-steel, it needs to be at least 10.5% chromium as well as iron.

Martensitic steel is the kind used to make fillet knives. It contains carbon to harden it and around 13% chromium to improve anti-corrosive properties.

You’ll have noticed several of our fillet knife choices bragging to have “high carbon” blades. The more carbon, the harder the steel is. While that makes it less flexible, it does allow you to have a much sharper, finer edge.

A high carbon, high chromium steel is ideal for filleting knives as it is highly resistant to corrosion and will be incredibly sharp.

But the God of all stainless-steels is Damascus steel for filleting knives. Damascus steel is incredibly strong and is often layered for fillet knives. A single piece of steel is at the center with layer upon layer of fine steel on either side. The layers create micro serrations – lots of tiny sharp blades – on either side of the main central blade. This keeps the blade sharper for longer, much stronger, and gives it a truly beautiful marble-like pattern.

Handle – Grip & Comfort

While there’s a definite right and wrong when it comes to blades, the handles are a bit more flexible. So to speak.

The traditional knife handle is made of wood, whether there’s a ‘tang’ running through the center or not. Wooden handles will certainly feel better in your hand compared to cheap plastic and can be carved into an ergonomic shape to fit your fingers. But they’re also slippery when wet and will wear down over time if washed in a dishwasher. If you’ve experience using wooden knife handles and know how to control them/look after them, then there’s no reason why you can’t choose a wooden handled fillet knife.

Other, more modern (and unfortunately less eco-friendly) fillet knife handles offer better grip and are a better choice for a beginner. Rubber and plastic fillet knife handles offer the best grip and are advisable if you’re going to be filleting right after catching the fish, when your hands are still wet and cold.

If you’re filleting in the kitchen, you have more choice. With better lighting, dry hands and a sturdy surface to work on, you’ll be able to grip the knife easily even if it’s not the most grippy material. In this circumstance, pakkawood is a great knife handle material. It has the beauty and quality of wood with the grip and durability of plastic.

Fillet Knives FAQ

Is a boning knife the same as a fillet knife?

Traditionally, boning knives are just for removing bones while fillet knives can fillet to remove skin, bones and more. There are multi-purpose boning/filleting knives.

How to sharpen a fillet knife?

The easiest and most accurate way is to use an electric sharpener. If you’re doing it manually, you’ll need to maintain the fine edge bevel degree, which is smaller than a standard kitchen knife.

What size knife do I need for filleting?

The larger the fish or meat you are filleting, the larger the knife. Use a 6-inch blade for small fish, like perch, and a 10+ inch blade for larger fish, like salmon. Scale up or down as needed.