TOP 13 Best Fishing Knives in 2020 (Fillet, Bait & Pocket Knives Reviewed)


No self-respecting angler will leave the house for a day of fishing without a good-quality knife.

Having the right tool at the right moment can make all the difference, and a decent blade is invaluable for all kinds of uses when you’re on the water.

As the very best fishing knives available in 2020 come in all shapes and sizes, I thought we should take a look at a few of the top examples.

And even if you’re not into the sport – they make great gifts for someone who is.

A buyer’s guide and FAQ section will follow.

Disclosure: At BonfireBob, we recommend products based on unbiased research, however, BonfireBob.com is reader-supported and as an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases if you shop through the links on this page. For more information, see disclosure here.

The 13 Best Fishing Knives of 2020

KastKing Fillet & Bait Knife

KastKing are never too far away when it comes to reviews on quality fishing tools and gear, and their bait and fillet knives are some of the best available for use in the field.

The five-inch bait knife is super-strong, made from highly durable stainless steel, with a razor-sharp edge on the bottom, and a serrated edge on the top.

Able to handle frozen bait with ease, you can also cut chunk or cut plug bait with the leading edge with no problem, and the gut hook provides an extra function to help cut fishing line.

Pros

  • Name to trust in fishing.
  • Affordable price.
  • Protective sheath included.
  • Very highly rated.
  • Non-Slip super polymer grip.

Cons

  • The scabbard isn’t the best.
  • Make sure you’re choosing the right knife.

Takeaway

An outstanding selection of bait and fillet knives from KastKing, this particular model is a versatile, practical, and durable bait knife that will handle just about anything you ask of it on the water.

Spyderco Atlantic Salt Folding Knife

If you’re looking for the most durable fishing knife for use in tougher conditions such as saltwater angling, then this model from Spyderco is up there with the best in the business.

Regularly topping fishing knife reviews, it’s been designed with advanced technology to never rust, and as such it’s incredibly resistant to corrosion.

With a fiberglass reinforced polymer handle, serrated, 3.68-inch steel blade with hollow grind, and rounded tip for safety, this knife has been made for anyone fishing in harsher environments.

Pros

  • Premium quality construction.
  • Very tough and durable.
  • Two-step serration pattern.
  • Back lock.
  • Metal pocket clip.

Cons

  • Pricey.

Takeaway

It might be a little more expensive than many of the fishing knives out there, but you get what you pay for with this kind of technology.

A mariner-friendly tool that won’t rust anytime soon – this is one of the best fishing pocket knives available.

Buck Knives 220 Silver Creek Fishing Knife

Designed for filleting your catch in the field, this Silver Creek folding fishing knife from Buck Knives has been made with expert craftsmanship.

With a flexible, 6.5-inch titanium-coated blade, it offers a high-strength, corrosion-resistant tool with a reinforced, polypropylene handle with TPE rubberized grip.

Easy to resharpen, it has been specially heat-treated in order to retain the edge for longer, as well as improve its overall toughness and ability to withstand stress.

Tried and trusted for years, this is a razor-sharp fishing blade that will grace any tackle box.

Pros

  • Name to trust in knives.
  • Stylish look and feel.
  • Versatile use.
  • Highly rated.
  • Lanyard carry system.

Cons

  • Might be on the large side for some.
  • Not flexible enough for smaller fish.

Takeaway

A quality fishing knife that offers plenty of versatility during your angling adventure. Just remember that it’s not suitable for carrying in your pocket.

Victorinox Fisherman Pocket Knife

Now, I might be getting a little sentimental with this one, as it’s the first fishing knife my father bought me. I will try and be as unbiased as possible.

Victorinox needs little introduction, and their multi-use Swiss-Army knives are nothing short of iconic.

This makes for a beautiful gift for the fisher-person in your life, with 18 functions including a fish scaler and hook disgorger, and it comes in that stylish, trademark red livery with a silver fish emblem.

It was amazing, right up until it fell out of my pocket during a family vacation circa 1987.

Pros

  • Compact, pocket-friendly design.
  • Very highly rated.
  • World-class craftsmanship.
  • Versatile use.

Cons

  • Too small for handling larger fish.

Takeaway

You don’t need me to tell you how good these things are, probably one of the best pocket knives for fishing there is.

Gerber Controller Saltwater Fish Fillet Knife

Founded in 1939, Portland-based Gerber aren’t quite as old as Victorinox, but they’re just as revered for their quality outdoor tools and gear.

This fixed blade fishing knife is eight-inches long, and has been optimized to withstand saltwater environments for maximum durability and corrosion resistance.

The full-tang blade is well-balanced, with the steel specially selected for its toughness, backed with an ergonomic handle with HydroTread grip for traction and control.

Expertly designed, this is packed with practical features for use on the water.

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • Built-in sharpener.
  • Rinseable sheath doesn’t hold water.
  • Guide fins.
  • Lanyard hole.

Cons

  • A little pricier than similar models.

Takeaway

Designed with anglers in mind and from their input, the Gerber Controller is aptly named and won’t let you down during your fishing adventure.

And it’s the fishing knife with probably the best grip on the market.

Wüsthof Classic Fillet Knife

Let’s take a step away from the boat and into the kitchen now with this beast of a blade courtesy of one of the finest knife manufacturers in the world.

The Wüsthof Classic range is up there with the best money can buy when it comes to kitchen knives, and this super-thin, seven-inch fillet blade is no exception.

With a full tang, triple riveted design and handles that resist discoloring, heat, and stress, this chef-favorite is built-to-last.

Just try not to worry about the price – this is some seriously high-end quality right here – and you’ll never need another fillet knife in the home.

Pros

  • Market-leading craftsmanship.
  • Razor sharp.
  • Very highly rated.
  • Used by professional chefs around the world.

Cons

  • Very expensive.
  • Not really suitable for field use.

Takeaway

While it does have its downsides (you wouldn’t exactly put this in your fishing backpack) this is easily the best fillet knife there is. And I should know, because I own one.

Black Camping Pocket Knife

We’ll take things in a different direction now (back to the great outdoors) with this multi-function pocket knife that was hard to overlook considering the sheer amount of top reviews.

A little under eight-inches in length when folded out, it’s made from black-coated 440C steel for durability and corrosion resistance.

The simple, but reliable liner lock repels dirt and prevents unexpected closure, while the razor-sharp blade is designed to last as long as possible without the need to sharpen.

Suitable for multiple activities and survival situations, this is another quality option that would make a great gift for anyone who loves the great outdoors.

Pros

  • Great price.
  • Lightweight.
  • Durable construction.
  • Very highly rated.
  • Survival eBook included.

Cons

  • Not a dedicated fishing knife.

Takeaway

As an all-rounder, this is a really good pocket knife for fishing, and a dozen other activities to boot. Couple it with a pair of these awesome fishing pliers and you won’t go far wrong.

Rapala Fish 'N Fillet Knife

Another company that requires little introduction, Finnish company Rapala have been producing top-quality fishing gear since 1936.

This particular product is their six-inch fillet knife, which has that all-important full tang blade, with a classic birch handle to finish this beautiful piece off.

It comes with an attractive, fine-tooled leather sheath, as well as a single-stage sharpener for use in ensuring the already keen edge operates at peak performance.

One of the most popular fishing knives in the world, this gorgeous tool from Rapala would look great in any angler’s gear collection.

Pros

  • Highly rated.
  • Name to trust.
  • Beautiful design.
  • Progressively tapered blade.

Cons

  • Not the most practical grip.

Takeaway

Regarded as one of the best fillet knives ever made, this is a beautifully crafted piece that would make a great gift for a chef or a fisher-person alike. Just make sure you pick up a pair of quality fishing gloves so you can grip that handle better.

CASE XX WR Fishing Pocket Knife

This yellow-handled folding pocket knife has a charming, old-school look and feel as if it’s been used by anglers of yesteryear.

Designed with a practical dual-blade, it offers a fish scaler with built-in hook disgorger, and a razor-sharp fillet edge for slicing up your catch.

The craftsmanship is second to none – but then you’d expect that from Case XX, and it features a hook-sharpener on the side so you can be sure your barbs are ready for action.

Pick up one of the classic fishing vests from that link and revisit fishing days gone by with this beautiful pocket knife.

Pros

  • Vintage design.
  • Name to trust with pocket knives.
  • Practical blades.
  • Compact and lightweight.
  • Ideal collector’s piece.

Cons

  • Expensive for what it is.
  • Not the best knife for saltwater.

Takeaway

Case XX are a well respected collectible knife company in operation since 1972, and this dual-bladed fishing knife has all the hallmarks of their quality.

Plusinno Fishing Fillet Knife

A choice of three different fishing knives are offered here, all in the same range from Plusinno, all made with their durable, rugged quality.

They all feature premium 5CR13 stainless curved blades which offer perfect flexibility for handling all kinds of fish and bait, with a fully textured, rubber-grip handle that won’t slip from your grasp.

Designed for safety and comfort, these fishing blades are suitable for use in all conditions, and come with a snap-on protective sheath to save your fingers.

The only problem is in choosing the right one.

Pros

  • Super-sharp.
  • Bait knife cut hook.
  • Lanyard holes.
  • Easy to clean.
  • Highly rated.

Cons

  • Sheath locking tab isn’t the best and might break.

Takeaway

I’ll admit I was totally reaching for a downside to these knives, as they’re top-drawer quality and any angler would be happy to have them in their equipment arsenal.

Bubba Li-Ion Electric Fillet Knife

Hang on a second – why are we doing all the work when it comes to cleaning fish?

Surely there’s a knife out there that can really take the strain in this day and age. Well, Bubba has the answer.

This is their battery-powered, cordless electric fillet knife, which comes in a convenient, durable EVA carry box and features four, different length blades.

Not only that, they’re all coated for protection against saltwater use, and the unit itself has a non-slip, rubber grip with an ergonomic trigger.

Get the job done safely and in double-quick time with an electric fishing knife.

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • LED Battery-life indicator.
  • Removable, easy-clean blades.
  • Very highly rated.

Cons

  • Expensive.
  • Will take up more room compared to a pocket knife.

Takeaway

This is a game changer. Sure, it might be a bit more expensive, but the fact that it comes with interchangeable knives, and will have you carving up fish like – an electric knife through fish – ensures it’s a real winner.

Morakniv Companion Fixed Blade Knife

Speaking of outstanding reviews, just take a look at this knife from Morakniv. It would have been a sin not to include it in this review, given just how awesome and popular it is.

Made with super-high quality Swedish steel, this is one of the most versatile knives on the market, and can handle pretty much anything you throw at it.

Just over four inches in length, it’s a great tool to have handy in your tackle box, with a patterned, high-friction grip that offers control and performance in all conditions.

The tang is deceptively long for such a knife, ensuring that you have a durable, reliable blade offering power and precision – no matter the task.

Pros

  • Outstanding ratings.
  • Very affordable.
  • Solid, belt-clip sheath included.
  • Highly versatile.
  • Large choice of cool colors.

Cons

  • Not a dedicated fillet or bait knife.

Takeaway

Hey, even if you’re not going to use this for cleaning fish or preparing bait, it’s worth having one as part of your gear set up anyway. An outstanding knife and an outstanding price with outstanding reviews – what more do you want?

Bubba Tapered Flex Fillet Fishing Knife

Last but by no means least we return to another Bubba blade with this seven-inch, tapered fillet knife.

With a full-length tang for unbeatable balance, power, and control, the stainless steel, non-stick blade offers a precise cut in all conditions.

Ideal for fishing, boating, and hunting, it comes with its own synthetic sheath for safety, and features a non-slip grip with ergonomic trigger point for added security.

Ti-nitride coated for protection against rust and corrosion, you can take this blade anywhere and it will get the job done.

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • Extra-sharp tip.
  • Highly rated.
  • Lanyard hole.
  • Quality safety sheath with belt loop.

Cons

  • None to speak of.

Takeaway

An excellent fillet knife to finish with, great tang, super-sharp, precision tip, and flexible to handle bones. Top marks to Bubba for this one – get it in your collection.

How to Choose the Best Fishing Knife – What to Look Out For

If it’s your first time purchasing a fishing knife, perhaps you’re looking for a gift, or you just need a refresher to know what’s out there – check out the tips and advice in the buyer’s guide, below.

fishing equipment on wooden background

What is a Fishing Knife?

As simple as it may seem, this is actually a worthwhile question, because fishing knives come in all shapes and sizes.

So, it’s important to identify each, and what they’re used for, so you make the correct purchase when you’re ready to do so.

Some of these knives are designed with a long, thin, razor-sharp, flexible blade. More commonly known as a filleting knife, they’re used for cleaning up and deboning.

You can find such knives both in an angler’s tackle box and in the kitchen knife block at home.

Some fishing knives have a waved edge that isn’t razor-sharp. They’re also used for cleaning up a fish, with a particular emphasis on descaling.

Bait fishing knives are designed to prepare chum and bait for use when fishing. They will have a sharp serrated edge, and often feature a cut hook for snipping line.

Finally, multi-purpose knives have been included in the review, which are useful for a variety of outdoor activities, such as hunting, camping, survival, and, of course, fishing.

The type you choose will depend on what you need the knife for, where you’re using it, and what kind of fish you’re using it on.

Fixed or Folding?

Again, this will come down to personal preference – as well as the who, what, why, where, and when of fishing knife use.

Folding knives are preferable if you need to transport the tool, or if you’re short on space. They can fit just about anywhere and are really handy to keep around.

However, their compact size isn’t practical if you’re tackling larger fish, or if you need a longer blade for a particular task.

And regardless of the quality, a foldable knife is just never going to be as strong as a quality fixed blade in the same class.

Of course, the inevitable trade-off is that knives with fixed blades can offer practical length, but they don’t travel as well.

Still, a good fixed blade fishing knife should provide full-length tang for balance and improved control, pose no danger of folding or shutting during use, and will likely be more durable overall.

I highly recommend getting both versions just to keep all bases covered – and good pocket knives are always useful in arms reach.

fisherman with folding knife in mouth and holding rod preparing for a fly fishing

Blade Type and Length

The type and style of the blade is very important for choosing the right fishing knife for your needs.

For filleting knives, they need to be razor-sharp, flexible, and with a curved, tapered edge that will help in cleaning the fish and slicing through skin and bone.

For bait knives, you should be looking for blades with sharp, serrated edges and the inclusion of a cutting hook.

How long you need the blade to be will depend on what you’re using it for. The larger the fish – the longer it will need to be.

Grip

When it comes to fishing knives, aside from the blade, the single most important part of the tool is the grip.

Even if you’re not angling in wet conditions, handling slippery, slimy fish is a challenge, and the last thing you need is a knife that’s going to skid out of your grasp. It’s happened to the best of us.

If you’re using it in the field, look for knives that have an ergonomic, rubberized grip. Some even come with trigger-style molds where you can better position your fingers for additional stability and control.

Durability

A true test of the quality of a good fishing knife, is how well it’s going to stand up to the elements. For this, you’ll need something that is rugged, tough, and durable.

Most knives will be able to handle freshwater with little issue, but it’s how a blade does in saltwater conditions that you should pay attention to.

If you’re fishing saltwater, look for a knife that has been treated with anti-corrosion coatings or finishes, to improve its longevity and ward off the rust.

Don’t forget to check out my guide to the best fishing pliers for saltwater.

fisherman using fishing pliers to release small shark

Portability/Carrying Options

As mentioned above, folding pocket knives make the most sense if you need something that’s super portable.

But you might want to transport larger, fixed blades, so they need to come with some kind of carrying solution to make this easier.

Look out for durable, strong sheaths that will keep both you and the blade protected when it’s not in use.

Sheaths that are designed not to hold water are preferable, to minimize the risk of rust and your blade sitting in the damp.

Lanyard holes are always useful, as are pouches with belt loops for attaching to your waist and keeping them close to hand.

Cost

The price of decent fishing knives can vary wildly – as can the quality of the craftsmanship you’re purchasing with your hard-earned cash.

I would recommend spending a bit more when it comes to buying a fishing knife, as with these kinds of products, you will really notice the difference.

A $100 blade is going to be light years ahead of a $20 option in the same class.

Always go for the best your budget allows, and suit your choice to what you need it for and how often you’re going to be using it.

fishing rod and knife on the ground in the sunlight background

FAQs

What is the best fishing knife?

It depends on what you’re using it for. The best fillet knife for fishing might not also be the best bait knife out there.

And the best fishing knife for me might be different to the best one for you – it’s a subjective question.

My personal favorites from the reviews above include the Wüsthof Classic for in the kitchen, the Gerber Controller for in the field, and the Victorinox Angler as a multi-use tool.

What makes a good fishing knife?

Again, it depends on what you need it for, but by and large, a good fishing knife will come with many of the qualities outlined below.

A durable, stay-sharp blade that – depending on where it’s being used – will have been treated with an anti-corrosion coating or finish.

An ergonomic, rubberized, non-slip grip that is easy and comfortable to hold, while offering the best control.

A balanced tang that is the full width of the blade for power and durability. Nobody likes those cheap knives that snap off at the handle.

The right length for your needs is important.

And they should come in under your budget.

If all those stars align, you’ll have found yourself a quality fishing knife.

How should you clean a fish gutting knife?

First thing’s first – it’s important that you never put a fishing knife in the dishwasher. The washer cycle and detergent will damage the tool eventually.

Always clean your fishing knives (and other fishing gear) as soon as you can – to prevent nasty odors and bacterial build up.

Gently wash your knife in warm, soapy water, taking care when cleaning the blade. Trust me – switching off even for a second at this point will leave a mark.

Thoroughly dry your knife using paper towels – even if the blade has been treated with anti-corrosion technology. You don’t want water to stay on or near the blade any longer than necessary.

Return your knife to its sheath or pouch if it has one, or consider a chef’s roll bag as the best possible knife storage option.

What is the best length for a fishing knife?

Again, it depends on its use.

A six-inch fishing knife is best for panfish, trout, and bass. Whereas a nine-inch knife is more suitable for the likes of bluefish and cod.

And then, of course, there’s everything in between.

If you’re serious about fishing – and in particular cleaning the fish yourself for consumption, I would recommend getting a selection of blades so you have the right size to suit every fish and occasion.

A professional chef doesn’t just use one knife for everything – nor should you.

How do I sharpen a fishing knife?

I can tell you how NOT to sharpen a fishing knife – by using a honing steel. It’s a common misconception that this puts an edge on the blade, when all it’s doing is straightening the blade and preparing for it to be sharpened.

For true sharpening, you need to use a whetstone. Check out the video below for how the pros do it.

How do you use a filleting knife?

Around the world, culinary cultures have their own techniques for using a fillet knife, and you should find one that works for you. Some skills are easy to learn, others are very difficult and can take time and practice to master.

But for a basic guide to filleting a fish, check out the video below, as a good example of how to do it in the field – which can often be very different from fish prep in the kitchen.

Summary

Choosing the best fishing knife in 2020 might not be as simple as picking the tool with the sharpest blade.

There’s a lot to consider – especially when it comes to the how, where, and when you’re using it.

Let me know in the comments which knife you’ve gone for and why – and don’t miss the opportunity to subscribe to our newsletter for more fishing tips, advice, and reviews direct to your inbox.

Stay safe, stay sharp, tight lines, and happy fishing!

Bob Hoffmann

The author of this post is Bob Hoffmann. Bob has spend most of his childhood fishing with his father and now share all his knowledge with other anglers. Feel free to leave a comment below.

Recent Content