Boning & Fillet Knife Recommendations  

My father told me that there was always "the right tool for the right job." A wrong or inappropriate tool always led to a poor result at best... and an unfortunate accident at worst...

In my book, Filleting Freshwater Game Fish: Northern, Walleye, Bass and Bluegill, I have dedicated the very first chapter to knives. Why?  Well, when it comes to filleting, the right equipment is crucial to getting the job done well!

If you have filleted as many fish as I have, you will eventually have access to and the opportunity to use a number of different knives.  Sooner or later you are bound to find one brand that works better for you.

Over the years, I have tried numerous brands of filleting knives (Normark, Rapala, Chicago Cutlery, just to name a few of the dozens of choices out there) and found them all to be useful.  I certainly would not "dis" any of them, as they all have a place and purpose in my collection.

My passion for cooking however -- as well as my years spent in restaurant kitchens -- has led me to purchase a single brand of knife for a plethora of purposes: Henckels.

Henckels Boning Knife

My first 9" chef knife and sharpening steel were purchased way back in 1975 -- making them over 40 years old as of this writing. They are still like brand new...  My point is this: a good knife is a good investment and, treated well, will last a lifetime.

I'll be the first to say that Henckels knives are not inexpensive, by any stretch of the imagination.  The 7" fillet knife I mention is now almost double what I paid for mine.  But as I said, if taken care of properly, it will definitely last a lifetime.

I have included some links in this article to the equipment that I have mentioned in my book; I also use these same knives both at home and while fishing in the northwoods. If you're not sure where to begin, try the 5.5 inch boning knife first, as it is a bit easier to handle and a tad less expensive. Once you become more comfortable with the filleting methods, you can try the 7 inch knife.

Many fishermen I have talked with obviously have their own preferences; they often prefer a six-inch blade over the seven-inch that I suggest. They also tend to shy away from Henckels because of the price. I understand that. But no matter what brand or blade-length you ultimately decide upon, keep one thing in mind: the old adage “you get what you pay for” still rings true when purchasing a knife. Get a good quality knife, make certain to keep it clean and sharp, and it will serve you well and long.

I’ll see you On the Lake.

R. Karl


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