The Best Fish Fillet Knives for Every Type of Task

Our top pick is the Wüsthof Classic 7-inch Fish Fillet Knife.

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fish fillet knifes
Zwilling / Amazon

Filleting fish can be challenging for home cooks, but using the right tool can make it considerably more manageable. A fillet knife is an essential tool that easily breaks down and precisely portions fish. Unlike a standard kitchen knife, what sets a fish fillet knife apart is its blade, which should be more pliable and lightweight, allowing you to easily maneuver around the tiny bones in fish.

You'll want to look for several features in a good fish fillet knife. To start, look for a high-quality blade that's long, thin, and flexible to allow you to make precise cuts in fish fillets of different sizes and textures. We searched for the best fish fillet knives that are lightweight, sharp, durable, easy to hold, and have a sturdy handle that won't slip even when filleting the most slippery fish. Other aspects, such as blade style, electric, and manual fish fillet knives, were also considered. We found that the super thin style and durability of the Wüsthof Classic 7-inch Fish Fillet Knife make it the best in the bunch. This fish fillet knife is lightweight and balanced to cut with precision.

To help you narrow down your choices, here are the best fish fillet knives currently on the market.

Best Overall: Wüsthof Classic 7-Inch Fish Fillet Knife

Kitchen Home Appliances
Courtesy of Williams Sonoma

Also available at Williams Sonoma.

Pros: A super-thin tip and flexible blade makes it easy to get in between tiny bones.

Cons: This is one of the most expensive knives on our list.

This fillet knife by Wüsthof has a very thin blade, allowing it to work through all types of fish easily. In addition, the long, narrow stainless steel blade features precision-edge technology that promises 20% more sharpness and twice the edge retention than its competitors. As a result, this is a sturdy and long-lasting knife that will stay sharp even with frequent use.

It's full tang, which means it's constructed from a single piece of high carbon steel that is resistant to staining and corrosion and ensures balance from handle to tip. The Wüsthof Classic is an excellent knife for both avid and amateur home cooks because the contoured handle and full bolster make it comfortable, safe, and easy to control. While technically you can clean it in the dishwasher, washing by hand is recommended.

Price at time of publish: $135

  • Blade length: 7 inches
  • Sheath included: No

Best German Steel: Zwilling Four Star Filleting Knife

Knifes
Courtesy of Zwilling

Also available at Zwilling and Bed Bath & Beyond.

Pros: This is a heavy-duty knife, so a full bolster makes for a comfortable grip and safe place to rest your finger.

Cons: This knife is durable and sturdy, but it's not as flexible as some of the others.

German steel knives are known to be heavy-duty and resilient, which means they won't chip when working around bones or tough cuts of meat. Zwilling's fish fillet knives are not only strong, they're also sharp and ergonomically designed to be completely balanced for easy maneuvering. Filleting fish can be slippery, so it's important to select a knife that's easy to hold. This knife utilizes a seamless transition from bolster to handle, which provides an easy, secure and safe grip. The full bolster provides an extra layer of protection between finger and blade, which makes this a great choice for the average cook looking for a reliable and safe knife. Though this is an incredibly sturdy knife, it isn't as flexible as some of the others. Hand washing is recommended.

Price at time of publish: $113

  • Blade length: 7 inches
  • Sheath included: No

Best Japanese: Shun Classic Gokujo Fillet Knife

Knifes
Courtesy of Sur la Table

Also available at Sur La Table and Williams Sonoma.

Pros: Japanese knives are considerably lighter than others, which makes them easy to use and maneuver.

Cons: This knife doesn't have a bolster, so be careful when choking up too close to the blade.

Japanese knives are known for being lightweight, and these knives from Shun are sharp and thin, making them ideal for filleting fish. Shun's fishing and boning knife features a 6-inch curved blade that is designed to separate flesh from bone with precision. The shorter blade makes it easier to control, and the thin tip makes it easy to maneuver between small bones. These handcrafted knifes are made with stainless steel and should be washed by hand using a mild soap. Because of their high price point, these super-sharp knives are best for serious home cooks who fillet fish often. Wash by hand.

Price at time of publish: $170

  • Blade length: 6 inches
  • Sheath included: No

Best Electric: Bubba Li-Ion Cordless Electric Fillet Knife

Knifes
Courtesy of Amazon

Pros: This cordless electric knife comes with four different blades, all of which are removable for easy cleanup.

Cons: Though a battery-operated motor means more power, it also means less control and precision.

For avid fish eaters who like to butcher whole cuts of fish, an electric knife can be a powerful tool. Weighing in at just over a pound, this lightweight knife from Bubba features an ergonomic non-slip handle with a trigger guard for added safety. Unlike the manual knives on this list, this knife is battery powered and comes with a set of removable blades.

Thanks to the cordless design, this is great for taking on the go, and the powerful motor makes it a great choice for butchering large cuts of fresh fish at home. It even comes with four blades in different styles—ranging in length from 7 to 12 inches—that are easily interchangeable to work on different cuts of fish. Because this knife is cordless, it comes with a charger and convenient carrying case. It should be washed by hand.

Price at time of publish: $190

  • Length: 7 inches, 9 inches, 12 inches
  • Sheath included: No

Best for Large Fish: KastKing 9-Inch Fillet Knife

Knifes
Courtesy of Amazon

Pros: It has an extra-long, extra-strong blade, and the textured polymer handle prevents slipping.

Cons: Because of the longer blade, this knife is not particularly portable.

Breaking down larger cuts of fish like salmon and tuna requires a longer blade for extra precision. This 9-inch fish fillet knife by KastKing features a razor-sharp stainless steel blade—strong enough to manipulate just about any cut of fish—with an elegant black finish.

The added length ensures precise cuts through flesh, and the thin tip allows for meticulous cuts around small fish bones. This hand-wash only knife is best for someone who often breaks down entire fish at home. The slip-resistant super polymer grip is comfortable to hold, and the included sheath makes for easy and safe storage.

Price at time of publish: $30

  • Length: 9 inches:
  • Sheath included: Yes

Best Value: Plusinno Fishing Fillet Knife

Knifes
Courtesy of Amazon

Pros: It's affordable and multifunctional, with a straight edge, serrated edge, and cut hook to tackle a variety of butchering tasks.

Cons: Though this has a durable handle, it is a bit heavy and therefore not completely balanced from tip to heel.

Buying a high-quality fish fillet knife doesn't mean you have to spend a fortune. This multifunctional option from Plusinno features a straight edge, serrated edge, and hook, which means it can easily achieve precise cuts and tackle tough butchering jobs at the same time. It features a sharp stainless steel blade and textured rubber handle that's ergonomic and slip-resistant, so you can use it even when your hands are wet. This knife comes with a safety sheath for easy storage. It's a great buy for someone looking for a sturdy knife with a versatile blade that can tackle a variety of different tasks. As with the other options, it shouldn't be washed in the dishwasher.

Price at time of publish: $12

  • Length: 5 inches
  • Sheath included: Yes

Best Compact: Toadfish Stowaway 7-Inch Folding Fillet

Knifes
Courtesy of Amazon

Pros: This compact knife folds away for easy storage, and a handy clip makes it super portable.

Cons: Though the blade is sturdy, it's not particularly flexible.

Like the name implies, this folding knife easily stows away for on-the-go adventures. It features a tough, corrosion-resistant 7-inch blade that was designed for harsh saltwater, making it perfect for filleting and boning salmon, tuna, and more. It fits seamlessly into any kitchen drawer or tackle box. The contoured, rubberized handle provides a slip-free grip and the built-in clip makes it easy to transport. This knife is ideal for taking along on fishing trips or storing in a toolkit for occasional use. Hand-washing is recommended.

Price at time of publish: $48

  • Length: 7 inches
  • Sheath included: No

Best Set: Made In Fishing Knife Set

The Fishing Knife Set from Made In
Courtesy of Amazon

Pros: These sharp knives come with a protective sheath for safe storage.

Cons: Made In only sells fish knives in a set of two, so these knives cannot be purchased individually.

Made In's fish knife set includes one serrated blade and one straight edge blade for a comprehensive package that can tackle all fish filleting needs. The straight edge blade is ideal for filleting flesh from the bone, and the serrated blade is suited to tougher butchering tasks.

Both knives feature a slip-resistant handle and full bolsters for a safe, comfortable grip. The 7.5-inch blades are long, flexible, and lightweight. This set should be washed by hand and is best for someone who likes to fillet, butcher, and portion their own cuts of whole fish, or for someone who often deals with tougher cuts or frozen fish.

Price at time of publish: $89

  • Blade length: 7.6 inches and 7.5 inches
  • Sheath included: Yes

Conclusion

Fish fillet knives should be sharp, durable, and flexible enough to bend without sacrificing precision. They should be easy to hold, with a sturdy handle that won't slip even when filleting the most slippery fish, which is why Wusthof's 7-inch fish fillet knife is the most efficient. This knife is lightweight and balanced, with a thin tip for meticulous maneuvering. The sharp blade ensures clean, accurate cuts, and the bolstered handle makes it comfortable to hold and use.

Factors to Consider

Electric vs. Traditional

Investing in a filleting knife can make working with fish a breeze. Traditional knives will have a long flexible blade with a curve that can follow the curve of whole fish or slide easily between flesh and skin. Electric knives will use a gentle oscillating motion to slide smoothly, requiring less precision on the part of the user. In general, while often more expensive, electric knives will be easier to use for novices with less chance of slipping blade injuries.

Serrated vs. Straight Blade

Straight blades are the standard since they have the most versatility. A well-sharpened one can manage the most delicate fish or get through hardier fillets with ease. If you mostly work with whole fish, or fish with tougher skin, a serrated blade might be a better choice, since the teeth will grip and there is less likelihood of slipping and cutting the user.

Handle Material 

Be sure to choose a handle that sits well in the hand, feels sturdy, and doesn’t seem prone to slipping. Plastic or silicone handles often have a pebbly texture or crosshatch pattern to ensure that even when wet they will still have good gripping power. Wooden handles can feel great in the hand but will require hand washing to protect the handle. Metal handles are sturdy but can get slippery when wet. 

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What is a fish fillet knife used for?

    Delicate fish require specialty knives to prevent damaging the flesh. "When breaking down fish, a fish fillet knife cuts through skin, bone, and flesh,” says chef and food stylist Sarah Blair. “The blade is long and flexible and curves upward from the handle to the blade’s tip. The specificity of the blade makes it ideal for making precise cuts, slicing around bones, and going between skin and flesh. This knife is called a fillet knife because its primary purpose is to remove the skin and bone from fish, creating a perfect fillet."

  • How do you sharpen a fish fillet knife?

    "Sharpening a fillet knife is slightly different than sharpening other knives because the blade is flexible," says Blair. For most other knives, you would sharpen from heel to tip. You want to go from tip to heel with a fish fillet knife because it’s so flexible, and you only get the center portion sharp if you sharpen it from heel to tip. 

  • Can you sharpen electric fillet fish knife blades?

    “Yes. The best way to sharpen an electric fillet knife is with an electric knife sharpener and an electric steel rod," says Blair. “For an electric sharpener, run the blade through the sharpening slot in one smooth gliding motion (it's nice because this practice doesn't require any angle or skill). You want to start with a course slot first, run your knife through it several times on both sides, and then change to a finer slot to hone the blade."


    You can also use an electric steel rod. "First, you want to remove the blade from the knife's handle. Use a towel or cut-resistant gloves to secure your hold on the knife's blade. Turn on the electric rod, and carefully glide the blade against the rod a few times on one side and then the other. If this process seems too risky and daunting, send it to a professional to sharpen it," says Blair.

Our Expertise

The author of this piece, Adria Greenhauff, is a journalist specializing in food and dining content, with bylines on Allrecipes, BHG, and Southern Living. For this list, she and her editors researched the category extensively and drew on their own experience using and caring for different types of cutlery. Greenhauff also cowrote our list of the best sharpening stones.

Updated by
Laura Denby
Laura Denby

Laura Denby is a food writer and chef with six years of professional culinary experience. Find her work in Real Simple, Food Network, Better Homes & Gardens and more.

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