Fishing & Hunting Tips

Fillet knife definition

Fillet knife definitionFrom the start of our modern civilization, the knife has evolved and adapted a lot for our convenience. Since the prehistoric time, the knife was first used as a hunting and regular commodity. And the first, more practical knife was forged from bronze that dated back nearly 4000 years. Since then, we have come a long way in manufacturing knife, to be more precise, flexible and razor sharp. Today, there are different types of knives are being used for various purpose. Out of those, we will try and understand fillet knife definition in details.

From combat to modern kitchen, the demand for a perfect and reliable blade is growing rapidly. You just cannot imagine a culinary adventure without a proper, premium built fillet knife. So here, I will try my best to present a detailed and complete fillet knife definition.

The definition

The word ‘fillet’ has a lot of different meanings. But, in the context of a knife, it means “a thin narrow strip of materials”. And the word knife represents “ a cutting instrument consisting of a sharp blade fastened to a handle” meaning. Apart from individual explication, we all know really well what exactly is a fillet knife.

A fillet knife is used for slicing and dicing fish, meat, poultry and other things. Also known as “filleting knife”, it allows you great balance and flexibility. This knife is the best choice to cut the slim meat off the backbone and beneath the skin.

Special features

A balanced and productive fillet knife will pose the advantages of

  • Premium materials: Fillet knife is always praised for its exquisite high-quality steel. Consider buying a knife forged with high carbon steel or 440 stainless steel. The 440 is gaining popularity for its sheer sharpness. The steel has commendable edge retention capacity. Superior building materials combined with corrosion resistant extends the blade’s lifespan significantly. Beware when you look for that particular steel, and it’s 440C, not that low-quality
  • Design: Modern state of the art technology and classic craftsmanship give the fillet knife a distinctive characteristic. As an example, the Damascus blade has taken the design quality to a whole new level. Forged with quality steel and acid etch patterns grant the knife a very sophisticated look. Overall, a slick design is always present in a fillet knife.
  • Flexibility: A blade that can flex under pressure indicates non-crackable A stiff blade can snap easily under intense pressure. Every fillet knife possesses a quality flex but it might vary from each other.
  • Sheath: Most of the fillet knife manufacturer offers premium sheath for safety and proper preservation when not in use. Some sheath comes with a sharpener and others come with water absorption capability. Nonetheless, a cover is a must-have option when buying a fillet knife.
  • Blade size: The blade size is generally between 6-11 inches, now, I can’t recommend you to get an exact size because it solely depends on the kind of fish, you are gonna fillet. Although I would suggest you buy a couple of them, different in sizes. In that way, it will be easier to operate regardless of the diverse size of your edibles.
  • Handle: Filleting a fish demands absolute dedication and precision. Such concentration is impossible without a perfectly crafted handle with non-slip grip material. A good handle will result in superior or inferior knife operation, so look for these following advantages before committing to buy one.
    • Thickness
    • Rubber-like materials
    • Non-slip
    • High-friction capacity

Handles are typically found in these four categories:

  • Wooden
  • Plastic
  • Rubber
  • Pitted Metal


Back in the days, when hand craftsmanship was the only available option to build a complete knife, wooden handle was very popular. But in time, the introduction of new and improved materials has pointed out some flaws in the wood. Hand fatigue, pain in the tip of the finger and palm, sweaty and slippery grip during long-term usage has downgraded the wooden grips appeal.

Especially if the knife handle is assembled with low-quality wood, the handle will soak up moisture and worse, the odor of the fish. It is also difficult to put a distinctive style and color coding to a wooden handle. Nonetheless, there is still some manufacturer today assemble their knife with a wooden grip to promote class and tradition. It’s more like a souvenir rather than a regular fillet knife yet some of you might beg to differ.


Yes, for a long time plastic has managed a place in a knife handle as well. The main reason for this combination lies to reduce pricing of the knife to reach to a wider base of the consumer. It’s not as slippery as the wood but still not commendable. The biggest inferiority I would say is where the seam is, their debris of food and other dust could get stuck and pose a serious health concern without you even noticing.

So, wash it thoroughly after every use and wipe clean the water. The handle can be coded with different colors to showcase its intended use.


Finally, we have a material that is perfect for any knives handle. Rubber can maintain the grips friction level even if your hand is soaked with water and sweat. There is no visible seam between the knife and the rubber handle which makes it easier to clean.

Although it might pick up a slight scent of your fish or meat, in that case, a thorough soap wash would take care of the bad odor. Like the plastic, rubber can also be colored and categorized for the individual task.

Pitted Metal

The material surface does impart some grip but not as assigned as the rubber. The grip is rated extremely hygienic due to its easy to clean and practically odorless. Like plastic and rubber, this handle also comes with different color codings.

Fillet knife definition
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Types of fillet knives

A typical fillet knife length varies from 6-11 inches. The immersive size and thin lightweight design allow the blade to breeze through any type of filleting, any time. Apart from fish and livestock, expert knife operatives can use it to dress and prepare a salad. Despite the useful length of the knife, it’s frame has a couple of divergent built formation with individual proficiency.

  • Broad Blade: Most of the standard filleting knives are in broad shape. The simple design allows it’s wielder to easily follow the spine of a fish, removing the bone almost effortlessly. Also, it can be used to remove the skin as well. Out of a few reasons for its popularity, I believe, people prefer this knife for the rigid and premium build quality combined with excellent lifespan. Note that, choosing a longer blade might decrease flexibility.

  • Curved Blade: Apart from its curved shape, this kind of knife offers similar productivity to those broad ones. A curved blade is more suitable to the skin at the curve edges of fish and poultry. Also, you will have more piercing power and relatively more sharpness. Longer curved blades are less likely to be flexible and inferior in durability in contrast with a broad shaped knife.

  • Folding Blade: Folding fillet knife is the perfect type for those who want to slice and dice on the go. Its convenient bend will allow you to carry it in your pocket without many compromises. Many modern fishermen today carry one or a few folding blades to start processing their fresh catch. Despite some hygiene and durability issues, you just can’t undermine the flexibility and portability a folding fillet knife offers.

  • Electric Fillet Knife: This type of knife requires no additional hand pressure and can be operated by anyone with absolutely zero experience. The knife is rechargeable and offers precise and smooth operation. Although, I personally not a very big fan of this kind, because a perfect fillet requires a precision slice through which in my opinion, feels a little aggravating with an electric fillet knife. But then again, it’s just my opinion.


Expensive equal to premium materials and longer lifespan. So, what are you looking for? If you just want a knife for random filleting and chopping with disregard for elegance and exquisite accuracy, keep your price range in between 25-40 dollars.

But if you want to hone your filleting skill and want a knife that will literally last you a lifetime, invest 80 dollars and above. If you want my opinion, regardless of your preference, I would suggest you buy premium knives. Because it will save you time and money in the long run.


Forged vs Stamped Fillet knife

Forged: Forged, or in another term, it’s also known as the hot drop. You probably guessed it by now that, in the forging process where a blacksmith dragging a knife off a heated smithy ( boiler ) and repeatedly hitting it with a large hammer to bring it into the desired shape.

A forged fillet knife is costly but will last you a lifetime if used properly. It is also easy to sharpen and has great edge retention. Although forged fillet knife isn’t that flexible. Nevertheless, when you think about a fillet knife definition, you have to picture a handcrafted premium material forged fillet knife.

Stamped: Cut from a large solid sheet of metal, and later a machine stamps out a knife shaped like a pickle cutter. Then a handle is attached and the knife is later sharpened. The process is becoming popular amongst variously reputed manufacturer due to higher production rate with lower construction cost.

Modern methods of the stamped process increase the knifes structural integrity and overall durability. The knife possesses excellent flexibility and flawless curved shape. It may not last you a lifetime but most of you will be tempted to buy one for its competitive price range.

Decision: Well, in the end, it’s up to you to decide on which characteristics to go to. For me, I would choose a forged knife over stamped, every time. But, if a stamped knife can offer comparable durability, then maybe I will reconsider.


Knife sets

It would be better if you pair up different size fillet knife and make it a set. Whether you have a couple of fillet knife or not, you can’t possibly hope to process an entire fish without a boning knife.

My suggestion would be, keep two filleting knife size in 6 and 9 inches, and keep two boning knives at the similar size. A set of 4 knives is enough to sail through any culinary challenge.


There is a lot of knife set offers an attractive price tag. You can mix it up by owning different types of fillet knife for maximum workability. Again, the choice depends on your accordance.

The purpose

The main purpose of a fillet knife is to separate the bones of a cut of fish or meat. The knife is thin enough to slice through the entire spine with minimal drag. A filleting knife requires practice and perfection. So rookie handler should proceed with caution.

Understanding your preference is just as much important as purchasing a perfect product. That’s why it’s imperative that you know precisely what you’re going to accomplish with a fillet knife. If you’re planning to catch smaller fish then traditional 6-inch knife can meet your demand. And for larger fish, it’s better to go 8 inches and above.


Diverse Operability

A set of high-quality fillet knife can perform a variety of slicing tasks besides taking care of fish. A fillet knife is lightweight and thin and can smoothly cut through any kind of meat. It easily takes out small bones from the meat with minimal meat loss.

Apart from its intended capability, the knife can manage other kitchen chores magnificently.

  • Snipping off fat: A fillet knife can separate fish scale proficiently. It is also usable to trim fat and meshing of the skin from small game animals like rabbit, quail where a more elegant approach is obligatory. A fillet knife with a long sharp blade is superb for this task.
  • Precision slice of citrus fruit: A diet knife can remove unnecessary pith, rind, and membranes from citrus fruit such as lemons, oranges, and grapefruit. A perfect precision slice will leave you a beautiful evenly cut fruit which is also visually stunning to look at.
  • Fruit and vegetable prep: Whether you are removing the membrane of a pepper or peeling the tough skin of an avocado, a high-quality fillet knife will make it easier to prepare. You can slice off a thin tomato skin easily with a fillet knife. So next time you are in your kitchen thinking about having your fruit juice, slice it with a fillet knife. You would be surprised to see the results.

The knife is also pretty handy for cutting corn from cob and skinning craggy vegetables such as potatoes, beets, and jicama. A fillet knife will work better than your spoon to remove the seeds and stringy membranes from squash

  • Rosettes: Rosette is a circular formation of leaves or structure resembling the leaves. If you ever host a dinner party, show your skill and serve a salad with garnish, and use a fillet knife to cut some decorative carrots and radish rosettes. They will be the hot topic at your party.


Proper Sharpening

It’s not fairly easy to sharpen a fillet knife due to their unique build and flexibility. There are generally three methods to sharpen a filleting knife. These methods are also applicable to any other kitchen knife as well.

  • Tabletop sharpener: Also known as the handheld sharpener, which usually has two stages of sharpening slot. Fine slot and core slot. You don’t have to wonder how to place the knife on the fine slot to sharpen, just place it on the two crossed sticks and they will adjust the correct angle. You can sharpen your knife after every 2-3 working hours on the fine slot. Just slide through 3-5 times and this won’t require any pressure. On the other hand, the core slot demands a little pressure and you will feel a lot more friction while using this slot. Note that the knife will lose some steel on the core slot to reset the edge. As a finishing touch, just slide through the knife couple of time on the fine slot to even the edge.

  • Whetstone: It’s harder to work in the kitchen especially if you encounter with a set of a blunt knife. So it’s very important to sharpen each knife before you start slicing. And what better way to sharpen your knife than using a whetstone. Check out the tutorial below to understand the sharpening process.

  • Grinding wheel: This system has a holder to secure knife, one or more sharpening sticks or conductors. It is easy to determine the exact angle to sharpen the knife using the holder. You can sharpen your knife in two ways when using a guided system. First, sharpening sticks are positioned in the holder, then you drag the knife along different sharpening sticks to complete the process. Second, keep the knife nice and secured in the holder, after which you slide through the sharpening sticks along the blade.

How to hold a knife

The methods of holding a knife are quite similar regardless of the knowledge you’re using. The “pinch grip” style is the safest and most efficient. When holding your knife, grip it by positioning your thumb and forefinger throughout the base of the blade in a pinching position. Enclose the other 3 fingers around the handle of the knife.

Place the center of the knife in the middle of the chopping board and start a rocking motion, up and over, utilizing the whole length of the knife to cut efficiently. Make a shape of a claw by using your other hand to guide the knife while chopping.

Position your claw over your desired food you wish to slice, be absolute to keep your fingertips stuffed underneath and away from the blade. Run your fingers over the food and push it towards the knife using your thumb for support when cutting the food. Place the knife alongside your fingers and start to chop all the way through the food. Use the whole length of the knife rather than concentrate at a single edge point.



Please don’t put your knife into the dishwasher. A simple mistake which will shorten your knife’s lifespan significantly. A blunt knife is the cause of abuse and poor maintenance which could lead to a catastrophic incident. So try to follow these steps below to keep your knife razor-sharp.

  • Clean and store your knife in a proper way.
  • Never store your knife without wiping off all the moisture.
  • Don’t put your knife into a dishwasher
  • Avoid using detergent to clean unless you absolutely have to.
  • Use a knife block, magnetic rack or separate drawer with a soft surface to store your knife.
  • Us a bamboo or plastic cutting board which will put less stress on the knife’s edge.
  • Do not leave the knife submerged in the water for a long time.
Pro tips
  • Get a pair of fish tweezers to separate pin bones from the fish and scissors to remove the fins.
  • The knife is compatible with both fresh and saltwater fish, with the anti-corrosion high-quality steel.
  • Practice repeatedly to hone your skills and master the proper technique.
  • Clean your blade in between fillet to prevent any uneven cut.
  • Like Gordon Ramsay says, “ Let the knife do the work”. So relax and don’t over press while slicing.
  • Keep the knife nice and flat while slicing through a fish. If you don’t keep your knife flat, a huge chunk of meat could be wasted.


In this article I have tried to cover everything there is, that is even slightly related to a fillet knife. Fillet knife definition can be described in a few sentences. But the related information is just as important as the definition. Like all the other knife, fillet knife has its strengths and weakness. That’s why you will require a knife set to even the odds.

As I have already stated, it is better to opt for high-quality steel, regardless of the type of knife you’re looking to buy. And, please, when using your knife, keep a clear head. I know that years of practice triggers muscle memory, but one wrong slice can change your life, for the worse. So, please, concentrate while slicing. And cook a well-deserved meal for your family. Thank you for your time.


Nicholi Wyto

Hey I'm Nicholi Wyto is a professional sports fisherman and hunter, love to enjoy spending time in Michigan’s rugged northern forests. I love to explore my experience and help others who are interested in fishing and hunting.

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