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Best serious fish cutter wanted.


I have a large knife collection...It consists of a Buck special, a BMF, a US Divers dive knife, and a Western cutlery 440A fillet knife. About the collection, it really isn't all that big. OK, I do have a few Benchmade and Spyderco folders, but they aren't big enough for this job...the short blades mean you cut yourself on the fins and bones. From the above you probably reconize I don't know much about knives.


I do know about fish and how to catch 'em. Lots of 'em. Big ones. And they need filleting so they fit in a pan. Now I am talking big tough saltwater fish, not those whimpy bass things. These fish are 2-4 feet long and 2-5 inches thick so it will take some serious cutting to make them into small pieces.

What would you folks recommend to do the job?

The saltwater where I live rusts tools in three days flat, unless covered with vaseline(non-toxic coating), so I am reluctant to get anything but stainless, but will try anything once.

I do have a lot of sharpening stuff in my woodworking shop, so I don't see sharpening as the issue. I can make an edge really sharp, so sharp the wife won't use it.

Any input would be helpful.


Hey Bg
I havent done a salt water test with 420v yet but it does that fish cut thing very well.
You wont count how many fish you can do before you have to sharpen you count linear feet.K.I. did a piece on 420v by Phil Wilson and 4000 L/FT was given for cutting salmon.
Apr 98 pg 78.
Up here in Alaska I have fillet everything from 25 lb Salmon to several hundred pound Halibutt with nothing more than my trusty Kershaw Fillet knife. I think any quality blade will do the job. My only advice is:
1. Use a fixed blade so cleaning up is easier (no blood in the bushings).
2. Use something like Sentry's Tuf-Cloth or Marine Tuf-Cloth for rust prevention, you won't have a problem.
3. Polymer grips seem to work best for me when the knife is wet.
Here are some models of fillet knives you can check out from the Knife Center. Shouldn't be too hard to find a good one. Good luck and welcome to the forum.



Sorry for the double post

[This message has been edited by Kodiak PA (edited 31 January 1999).]

[This message has been edited by Kodiak PA (edited 31 January 1999).]
I would recommend Spyderco's biggest kitchen knife. Its called the Pro-Culinare K04. Heres a link, its the one with the black handle.

Or if that is a little small just go and buy a 12 inch machete and bring along a sharpener .

Right now I use my old trusty Marttiini Rappala 9" on those big ol marine fish. Works fine on albacore, yellowtail, lings etc.

Actually, its kind of surprising I haven't had a custom made yet but I will, as soon as my land needs are covered.

I did a review on the Cetan tanto a while back...though it is too small to be a fillet knife, the chisel tip is fantastic for cutting through the sharp fins. Lay the fish down on a surface and just press thru the spines.
My favorite fish fillet knife is from Chicago Cutlery: six-inch blade with a hefty wooden handle. I like the feel of the wood when I'm working and I've used that knife to clean everything from pike to crappies.

[This message has been edited by Blade (edited 31 January 1999).]

[This message has been edited by Blade (edited 31 January 1999).]
Oh goody...I have been waiting for a thread like this. I used to spend my summers making money on the docks by cutting fish for tourists.

I like Forschner kitchen knives. I have five different ones, but I usually only used three. My main Fillet knife is a model 810-7, a flexible 7" that was reground for me by a guy in town here named Robert Ihnman (sp?). He polished the edge up, and it cut like a scalped for a long time.

My funnest knife was actually a Forschner bread knife that I used for head&guttin' salmon. The serrated blade made short work of cutting through the spine, and lopping off fins. the tip was rounded, and served well enough to get rid of the vein. It is a model 40549.

For really tough skinned bony fish like sea bass & (big) ling cod I used a model aw heck, I can't read the numbers, but it resembles a 5-6" skinner, and is fairly stiff.

For removing the skin from fillets I used a model 809-7. it is a stiff 7" fairly straight blaed knife.

The only knife that I have that resembles a fillet knife was actually just relegated to removing the cheeks from halibut and (large) lingcod. I never used it to fillet anything really. I think is is about 4" long.

I like the forschners because the grips did not get slippery when wet & covered with (hali)but slime. They kept an edge well, and sharpened easily. I never had any corrosion problems, and all thae maintenance that I did was just rinse the slime off. For a sharpener I used one of theose cheap smokey mountain porcelin rods.

bYeK(the "b" is silent)
See, I personally hate fillet knives for fish, and I grew up taking big ocean fish between the 10lbs and 50lbs range.

I always preferred something like a good deerhunter/skinner type. I'd take 'em apart more like how you deal with a deer - gut completely and then either steak 'em or make two deep cuts either side of the spine up through the ribs and along the bones coming up out of the spine and right up to the top of Mr. Fishy. You get a LOT less waste than with traditional fillet techniques, although it's a hair slower and the rib bones are still on each spineless half of fish meat.

An ATAK would be fine for this. An AZ Hunter in 3/16ths would admittedly be better, but basically any good "deer knife" in the 6" range in stainless that's stiff enough to do tip control will work. A 6" stretched Cetan in ATS34 would be very close to my "ultimate fish knife".

The other problem with a fillet knife is that in any sort of boating emergency involving the need to cut a rope or clothes away *right* *now*, a fillet knife is a very poor tool. You can also suddenly have a need to kill something in a hurry, like, say, a lingcod that's gone and grabbed somebody's ankle. In such event, and it *can* happen, having a "fight capable knife" is a godsend. I've had to commit "assault" on several fish, including a Thresher Shark that tried to whip us all to death with a 3ft tail. Picture a 14" boat, one adult, three kids, a 3ft shark with an *additional* 3ft of tail. Mr. Shark was in a definate "target rich environment", my dad was at the wheel and it was up to my kid brother and I to kill the damnthing.

Thank the diety of your choice we didn't have fillet knives. I managed to cut the tail off while kid brother beat it's head in with a billy club.

Ah, fond tasteless memories of youth!

Jim March

Sharks are one of the primary intended uses of the sword Rob is making me

There have been several times in my life that the offing of a fish was a team effort. Ling Cod are especially nasty creatures, and make for an exciting time when they land on deck and start thrashing around. My Mom was attacked by a couple of them once, and refuses to fish for them anymore. I believe that a serrated puuko styled knife would be about the ultimate boat knife. Good to cut bait, stab fishies, cut rope, slash gills...yea...that's the ticket.....

Thanks for the good input.

I talked to the local tackle shop and they carry Forschner fillet knives. I am going to pick up a couple today. Seems like a short stiff blade and a long thin blade would be the best pair.

I like the wood handles because of how it cleans and grips when slimy so will go with their rosewood model.

I guess I was due for an upgrade.


My fillet knive is something I picked up in a tackle shop, in Hilton Head Island, SC, while I was on vacation there, in 1996.

It's rather long (blade is just shy of 9", overall length is about 13 3/4"). The blade is rather stiff (although it does flex a little, but nothing like most typical fillet knives), and is fully serrated. The sheath is rubber, and has two drain holes at the bottom. The handle is also rubber (sheath and handle are white in color), with various thin "lines" in it that help you grip it without a problem, even when covered in water and fish leftovers.

The markings on the blade are:
"Sani-Safe(r)", and, underneath:
"Dexter(r)/Russell(r)" (which would definitely appear to be the brand name). It also has an "NSF" logo, and some cross with "U.S.A." in it. The model on the blade is "S142-9SC", and it also says "stain-free" and "high-carbon". The rubber handle also says "Dexter Russell", and the ever-popular "Made in the USA".

The sheath has no markings other than "White(r)", "1989", and "Taiwan" "20450" on the other side.

Let me tell you, this baby *will* help you kill that shark, Jim

I have fillet-ed many fish with it, both saltwater and freshwater, and it has never let me down. Has anyone else ever seen a knife like this, or know anything else about it? The place I bought it from also had a more "typical" fillet knife, which appeared to be of the same brand. I seem to recall this one was rather cheap (about 10-15 bucks US, IIRC).

Now you got me intrigued about my own knife
I know that if someone was to happen to this one, I'd replace it with one similar (assuming someone knows where you can find them).

Well, I know it's pretty stupid to be replying to your own message, but I feel like a dummy, and I have to share

A simple 2-second AltaVista search found the manufacturers of my "mistery" (not really) knife right away. They can be found at:


Then, under "Products", and in the "Sani-Safe" line, it's actually listed as a "9" scalloped utility knife".

This company appears to be mostly in the industrial/restaurant business...

Either way, the knife works great for me!

Knives of Alaska makes a very fine 10 inch knife (6 inch edge) called the Grayling. A while ago I got one from knifecenter.com ($39) as a gift to my brother-in-law who really praises it highly. He works in Alaska at times and has caught gigantic hallibut there. The knife is just right on the flexibility, has a really good finger choil to keep you from slipping onto the blade, and there are serrations at the tip of the blade to poke in and get the cut started. Nice leather sheath very durable. To see a picture and read about it go to


[This message has been edited by senpai (edited 01 February 1999).]