No self-respecting angler will leave the house for a day of fishing without a good-quality knife.
As the very best fishing knives available in 2023 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.
Table of Contents
- At-a-Glance – A Brief Guide to Fishing Knives
- The TOP 14 Best Fishing Knives Available in 2023
- KastKing Fillet & Bait Knife
- Spyderco Atlantic Salt Folding Knife
- Buck Knives 220 Silver Creek Fishing Knife
- Victorinox Fisherman Pocket Knife
- Gerber Controller Saltwater Fish Fillet Knife
- Böker Brook Knife
- Wüsthof Classic Fillet Knife
- Black Camping Pocket Knife
- Rapala Fish 'N Fillet Knife
- Case Yellow Fishing Pocket Knife
- Plusinno Fishing Fillet Knife
- Bubba Li-Ion Electric Fillet Knife
- Morakniv Companion Fixed Blade Knife
- Bubba Tapered Flex Fillet Fishing Knife
- How to Choose the Best Fishing Knife – What to Look Out For
- What type of knife is best for fishing?
- What is a fishing knife called?
- What is the best fishing knife?
- What makes a good fishing knife?
- What are the best fillet knives?
- How should you clean a fish gutting knife?
- What is the best length for a fishing knife?
- How do I sharpen a fishing knife?
- How do you use a filleting knife?
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At-a-Glance – A Brief Guide to Fishing Knives
Hold your horses there, champ!
You might want to rush right into the reviews, but it’s important to bear a few things in mind – so you know what you’re looking out for.
Pay attention to the following features and factors:
- Type of knife – is it fixed or folding?
- Blade design and length.
- Grip – vitally important when you’re on the water.
- Durability – how long is it going to last?
- Portability and carrying options.
- Cost – don’t break the bank!
Personal preference also has a part to play in your selection, as what’s right for me might not be right for you. That’s why there are so many options on the market.
But just for argument’s sake, I’ve included my top three picks below. See if you agree with my choices.
The Kastking Fillet and Bait knife has got to be one of the best (if not the best) fishing knives ever made.
Just check out that design, look at those features, read the reviews, and if you don’t end up adding one to your cart – I’ll be very surprised.
The Spyderco Atlantic is a saltwater friendly, anti-corrosion fishing knife, that has been built to last. I only placed it in second because its price won’t be for everyone.
Finally, the Buck Knives Silver Creek folding fishing knife is beautifully designed, made by some of the best knife craftsmen in the business. If you’re looking for a larger blade, this could be the best option for you.
So, what do you think? Do you agree with my choices?
Read the rest of the reviews, and let me know which fishing knife comes out on top when it comes to your needs.
The TOP 14 Best Fishing Knives Available in 2023
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.
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.
They typically feature a slightly thicker blade for added durability to face all the challenges you ask of them, and a drop point for more control when slicing.
Many good fishing knives often feature a flat grind blade, which will hold a razor edge without the need to sharpen regularly. However, flat grind blades are not as durable as other blade types.
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 a 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 arm’s reach.
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 a razor-sharp, flexible blade; 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.
Straight edge blades will be more practical for cleaner cuts – such as when you’re filleting your catch for the table.
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.
Stainless steel blades are practical and popular, but carbon fiber options are also available, and are typically much lighter, and more suitable for withstanding corrosion in harsh environments.
And you need to decide if you want a fixed blade knife, or a folding one. The former has a tendency to be stronger, but isn’t as practical when it comes to portability/storage.
A folding knife, on the other hand, often has limits when it comes to strength and durability – particularly at the fold point. But they come into their own for slipping in a pocket, or a quality fishing backpack.
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.
The very best knives will have safe, practical grips – and which should be obvious, if you’re just looking at it in a picture.
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.
Take a look at the blade material, as well as what the rest of the knife is made from. This will give you a firm indication of how long it’s going to last, and the conditions it’s capable of lasting in!
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.
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.
What type of knife is best for fishing?
It depends on your personal needs and how you’re going to use the knife, but generally speaking, I highly recommend a razor sharp folding knife for inclusion in your tackle box.
Of course, if you’re looking for a bait knife, you might prefer a different design. But in my experience, it’s usually prudent to have a choice of knives when you’re out in the field/on the water, anyway.
What is a fishing knife called?
“Fishing knife” can be an umbrella term that describes any knife you can use for fishing. You can use a fillet knife for gutting, cleaning, and preparing the fish, and you can use a bait knife for chopping up bait.
Either can be classed as a “fishing knife,” but then so could the standard pocket knife you’ve owned for decades!
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 – the answer is going to be subjective.
Any of the knives in this review could win the title – it’s up to you to find out which one!
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. Flat grind blades often make the best fishing knives.
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 consider the blade material, too.
Perhaps most importantly – they should come in under your budget.
If all those stars align, you’ll have found yourself a quality fishing knife.
What are the best fillet knives?
Any of the ones included in this review! Good fillet knives will have durable, corrosion-resistant blades, and a grippy handle to prevent slips.
How should you clean a fish gutting knife?
Never put a fishing knife in the dishwasher, whether you’ve been filleting fish or otherwise.
Always clean your fishing knives (and other fishing gear) ASAP – to prevent nasty odors and bacterial build up.
Gently wash your knife in warm, soapy water, taking care when cleaning the blade.
Thoroughly dry your knife using paper towels – 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.
A professional chef doesn’t just use one knife for everything – nor should you.
How do I sharpen a fishing knife?
First tip – don’t use honing steel!
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?
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.
Choosing the best fishing knife in 2023 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!