Best Fillet Knife for Saltwater Fish: A 5 Knife Roundup

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Don’t want to wait? My pick for best fillet knife for saltwater fish is the KastKing 9-Inch Fillet Knife.

Fillet knives are a tricky class of knives. That goes especially when you’re saltwater fishing – whether off the beach, near-shore, or off-shore – you’re going to want a high quality knife that can stand up to the elements.

In this post I’ll roundup the best fillet knives for saltwater fish. At the end you’ll hopefully know the best knife for you to take on your next saltwater fishing trip.

Five Top Fillet Knives for Saltwater Fish

Saltwater Fish Fillet Knife Buyer’s Guide

In our best fillet knife for fish roundup, we looked at some of the best general purpose fillet knives. To be honest with you, for smaller saltwater fish such as small bass or mackerel, you could choose a fillet knife from that guide.

But maybe for you, saltwater fishing differs in a very important way: the fish are much bigger. If you’re fishing for haddock, tuna, salmon, or some other large ocean fish you most likely want a bigger fillet knife.

This roundup will keep you in mind: I’ll look at the best longer-bladed fillet knives you can take saltwater fishing.

But please… do take a look at our general purpose fillet knife roundup afterwards. You probably want to pick up a shorter knife to go with the longer one if you will be fishing for large saltwater fish often.

Aerial view of people swimming in the ocean

Features of a Great Fillet Knife for Saltwater Fishing

Blade and Tip

Fillet knives take a ton of abuse and still need to perform. Especially under marine conditions – salty air and water, stronger fish – you really want to get a quality blade. Most longer fillet knives use stainless steel blades, which fight off corrosion and rust well.

Personally, I prefer a trailing point tip on my fillet knives. This type of tip means the back of the blade curves up and the knife comes to a sharp point. This blade makes your initial cut easier, and also is less prone to catch on bones and hard objects when you’re dragging it under tension.

Handle and Grip

Even more so than if you are choosing a shorter fillet knife, you need to be safe with long fillet knives. Look for a knife with a substantial finger guard and a quality grip.

A good grip is necessary under slippery conditions – and I can’t imagine many non-slippery conditions when preparing – or catching – fish.

Size

Unlike with a smaller fillet knife, you want a longer fillet knife if you’re going to be fishing for larger fish. Just match the blade to the fish size.

For example, here’s a demonstration of filleting a halibut – a longer fillet knife comes in handy here.

What’s the best fillet knife for salmon?

For salmon, I suggest a larger fillet knife: 9″ on up. Below I give a number of good 9″ options, but by preference you might want to go even longer.

Bubba makes their excellent fillet knife in a 12″ style. It should definitely be on your list as an even longer fillet knife option for salmon.

Should you consider an electric fillet knife?

If you prepare fish often (or in large batches), consider an electric fillet knife. If you don’t have convenient power where you fish, whether on shore, dock, or boat, look for a cordless option.

Here’s our roundup of top electric fillet knives.

Blade Flex

Some cuts, for example removing skin, are easier to do with the knife under slight tension. Also, when running the knife under meat along ribs you want to flex over the bones.

While it does come down to personal preference, I like to use a fillet knife with enough flex. If you like a stiffer knife you might want to consider a boning knife.

Five Top Fillet Knives for Saltwater Fish

KastKing Fillet Knife 9 inch

It’s undeniable: the KastKing 9 Inch Fillet Knife is a great looking fillet knife. And that’s not all – it’s my pick for saltwater fish.

It has a sharp stainless steel blade with a black finish, and should keep its edge well to make filleting easy work. It has my favorite type of tip, the trailing point where the back of the blade curves up to a sharp point. This makes your initial cuts easier and helps when you’re cutting under a fillet.

It has a nice finger guard and polymer rubber grip. This will keep you safer even under slippery conditions you’ll find while fishing or cutting fish. Also, it’s bright orange which is more than a style choice since it is easier to see.

The KastKing comes with an orange sheath (so you’ll also never lose sight of the sheath either!). The sheath is a locking type, which will keep you safe if the knife jostles around in a bag or tackle box.

The KastKing also features a good amount of flex in the blade. I prefer a bit of flex on my fillet knives because it makes filleting easier when cutting along bones especially.

Pros:

  • Holds an edge well when sharpened, which makes filleting quicker and safer
  • People really like the comfortable grip, and found it easy to hold even when slippery
  • Great value for the reasonable price
  • It has great flexibility which means it’s great for things like removing skin

Cons:

  • Some users found it wasn’t sharp out of the box. If it’s not sharp out of the box you’d have to sharpen it for safety before you first use it
  • It’s a flexible knife, but some owners found that it bent too easily

Bubba 9 Inch Flex Fillet Knife

People really like Bubba knives, and the Bubba 9-Inch Flex Fillet Knife is an excellent example why. Sporting a 6 inch bright red grip, the Bubba is 15” long overall. This bright color choice makes it easier to see, even under poor conditions.

I like Bubba’s grips and the 9” fillet knife shows why. It has a very good non-slip handle and substantial finger guards for both your thumb and index finger. Catching fish then filleting them is a messy job so this is perfect to stay safe.

The Bubba has a decent blade made of 8Cr13MoV stainless steel. This isn’t the highest grade on the market, but should hold up well to rust and corrosion under most conditions while saltwater fishing. The tip is a trailing point type, my favorite because it makes your initial cut easy (you tend to plunge cut first).

Again, Bubba has a great knife on its hands with the 9 Inch Flex Fillet Knife and it is a good knife to consider. It was my favorite knife in this saltwater fillet knife roundup and would be an excellent pick.

For an even longer fillet knife, Bubba makes a 12″ version.

Pros:

  • Awesome high-visibility, non-slip safety grip with good finger guards. This maximizes your safety under poor conditions
  • Comfortable to hold and grip because beyond safety you want a knife that you can do a lot of preparation using
  • My favorite tip, the trailing type which is extremely sharp. This helps your initial cut while filleting
  • Good flex and sharp blade to make filleting easier when tracing over bones

Cons:

  • 8Cr13MoV isn’t a very high grade of stainless steel – it will hold up but there are better materials
  • Some users found it dull out of the box, requiring immediate sharpening

Mercer Culinary M23860 Millennia 8-Inch Narrow Fillet Knife

The Mercer Culinary M23860 Millennia 8 Inch Fillet Knife is a great value option with a good high-carbon stainless steel 8” blade. For the price, it has an extremely high quality blade with a sharp edge that will hold up well under most conditions.

The blade is very thin with a nice flex. It has a curved point, but is not the trailing point tip I like most on fillet knives. I find trailing tipped blades to be a little easier for the first cut while filleting. However, many people prefer a straight blade so this comes down to preference some.

All in all, the Mercer Culinary M23860 is an amazing value option. You get a lot of knife and a great blade for the money here and it’s a good knife to consider. Maybe even buy a few!

Pros:

  • Great value for the money
  • Extremely sharp high carbon stainless steel blade which makes filleting that much easier
  • Good crossover to cutting other foods which require a sharp knife

Cons:

  • Has a straight blade not a trailing point. I find trailing point blades (which curve up in back) easier on the initial cut while filleting.
  • I would prefer a bigger fingerguard
  • Some users found the blade got rust spots

Rapala 9″ Fish N Fillet Knife

I reviewed the 6-inch younger brother of the Rapala 9 Inch Fish N Fillet knife and came away with a good impression. Rapala makes good knives and it holds up in the 9 Inch version.

The Rapala has a great flex and a stainless steel blade that should hold a sharp edge for quite some time. The knife is a full tang design which means the blade goes all the way from tip to handle. This is the strongest construction of knife.

The handle is varnished birch. Users find it to be a good grip, but I would personally prefer a different grip material and a bigger finger guard. The grip attaches using a brass ferrule.

I really like the blade on the Rapala, which is my preferred trailing tip design. This makes your first fillet cut a bit easier in my experience.

As a bonus, the Rapala comes with a sheath and a sharpener. The sheath fits well, and provides good protection when you travel with the knife. The sharpener is a convenient add on which can help you recover the edge when the knife does dull.

Pros:

  • Really good looks with a birch handle and brass ferrule attachment
  • High quality steel and sharp edge to make filleting a breeze
  • Nice add-ons with the sheath for protection and sharpener to keep it cutting on the go
  • Users like the amount of flex, which makes it easier to follow bones or remove skin

Cons:

  • Wood is a classic handle, but I like other grips nowadays. (Many do enjoy the grip though and this is just my preference)

Kershaw Clearwater 1259X 9-In Fillet Knife

I also reviewed the Kershaw 1259X 9” Fillet Knife in our general purpose fillet knife review. While the 9” blade was long for that crowd, the size fits in well in the saltwater fillet knife options! All-in-all, the Kershaw measures 14.25” long with blade and grip.

It features a black rubber grip with neon green accents. It also has a very nice finger guard. These features mean you will be more safe when handling it, and neon colors make it easier to find under poor-visibility conditions (such as found on a boat).

The Kershaw comes with a locking sheath made out of ABS rubber. A sheath is great for traveling or storing a fillet knife so you don’t accidentally injure yourself grabbing the business end of a blade. The Kershaw holder also comes with a belt loop so you could clip it there.

It has a nice flex, and a trailing point blade – my favorite. These features mean it is versatile for cuts under tension, such as cutting along ribs or removing skin. The tip style makes initial cuts a bit easier, in my experience.

Pros:

  • Good edge and flex which helps when cutting around fins and along ribs
  • Great value for the price
  • Lightweight and maneuverable, which is harder when you get into longer knives
  • Good grip and substantial finger guard for safety
  • High visibility to better find it in low-light or harsh conditions

Cons:

  • Some found it dulled quickly and needed frequent sharpening
  • A few folks thought it wasn’t flexible enough for a 9” knife and performed closer to a boning knife

Conclusion: My Favorite Fillet Knife for Saltwater Fish

I considered a lot of factors for this roundup of best fillet knives for saltwater fish. You want a longer blade than for general purpose fishing, plus it should hold up well to salt and grime.

My favorite knife in the category is the KastKing 9 Inch Fillet Knife. It has a nice flex on the blade, holds its edge well and – this is crucial – has a very comfortable and safe grip.

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