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Good size for fillet knife for fish?

I'm pretty new to eating seafood and so far have been buying fish that has already been deboned and filleted at the store. Now I'm looking for a fillet knife to try to do more of it on my own. I see plenty on Amazon that seem to be a good price and have good reviews, but I'm having trouble choosing, mainly because I'm not sure about size.

I guess I'm looking for something that will be the most universally useful, since right now I'm not sure what particular fish we may use it for since it's still so new to us and we've only tried a few kinds. We may also use it for fish we may catch in the future. Does anyone have any recommendations on size? Or does it even really make a difference what size it is?

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  1. A 7-8" knife will do very well for most fish that I think the typical consumer might buy.

    Like so > http://www.dexter1818.com/Item_Detail...

    I have this particular knife and find it handy for other uses as well. If you anticipate breaking down 25 + pound fish you might need something a little heavier.

    1 Reply
    1. Have you looked at knives at tackle shops? There are even folding ones that can be kept in the tackle box.

      1. I have an 8 incher...it works well.

        1. I have this 6-inch stiff boning knife:


          It works fine, but I don't know anything extraordinary about it. I have a limited fish deboning experience compared to than others, so my opinion here does not have the same weight as others.

          What I do want to add is that one thing to keep in mind besides the size/length is the flexibility. Some fillet knife is very stiff, and some is very flexible. Of course, another thing to consider is the curvature. Some have curved blades, while others have straight blades.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            Do you know if I'd do better with a stiff or flexible one, or does it just depend?

            1. re: bythebay

              A bit of a personal choice. Some people do like a flexible filet knife especially for removing fish skin. If you are not entirely sure, then go with a stiff boning for the first time. It is more universal.

          2. When I come across a kitchen toy which I perceive as better than something I already have I tend to just go ahead and buy it. Wasteful, stupid and sometimes expensive, but I can't help it. Thus I have four filleting knives. Three (Sabatier, Victorinox and unknown) are in a plasic storage container in my garage, along with about 30 other knives. This 8 inch one is in my kitchen:


            It's excellent, and definitely, definitely my last one...........

            I tell my wife that this mild OCD is cheaper than playing golf, and keeps us well fed, but I don't think she's convinced!

            2 Replies
            1. re: Robin Joy

              <this mild OCD is cheaper than playing golf ... but I don't think she's convinced>

              I am not convinced neither. :)

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                You know, you could probably sell those knives as antics and buy yourself some J-knives...

                I know where you can get some good stuff, man.

            2. Thanks everyone. I'm hoping somewhere between 6-8 should be good to start. I'm hoping to get something cheap for now till I see how much I end up using it.

              3 Replies
              1. re: bythebay

                If your looking for a good but inexpensive fillet knife look at the Rapala. Hard to beat for the $$.
                Lambson sharp also has some on close out that are worth a look.


                1. re: TraderJoe

                  Some years ago I bought a folding knife like this Rapala
                  It was recommended on a backpacking forum as a lightweight and safe long knife for camp cooking. Now, though, kitchen stores abound with lightweight knives of all shapes that come with plastic sheaths.

                  1. re: TraderJoe

                    I confess to admiring the Lamsom Sharp Vintage fillet knife:


                    I wish they said something about flexibility, though.

                2. Ah, a subject I am well versed in, have cleaned thousands of fish. You can't go wrong with a basic entry level Rapala for sure, however spend a little extra and get the Cutco fillet knife called "The Fisherman's Solution". It starts our as a 6 inch fillet knife that extends all the way to 9 inches (for larger fish like Salmon, you just open the latch on the handle and extend it). This knife holds an edge! I might mention that they will even sharpen it for you for free (might have to go thru a presentation though). Byerly's and Lund's will sharpen your straight edge knives for free, I believe they'll do up to 3 but you have to leave them overnight, still a great deal. I fish with around 23-25 people in the course of a summer and no one has a better knife than the Cutco, I have even convinced 1/2 of them that this is the best fillet knife on the market, so put a mark on yours so you can recognize it. The knife holder has a sharpening stone on the back of it, a handle that doubles as a fish gripper, a knife slot to cut fish line with and a loop so you can wear it on your belt. (No, I don't work for Cutco!).
                  Added tip: go to www.youtube.com and type in "5 cut northern" to see how you can fillet a Northern Pike, bone free in just 5 cuts, great tasting fish along with Walleye. Good luck!

                  1. I'm definitely NOT a knife expert, but have been deconstructing/fileting whole fish for DECADES.

                    My knives of choice are

                    1) Any of your regular sharpened kitchen knives (from paring to chef) suitable in size to the fish at hand to do any scaling, decapitation, de-tailing, gutting, & cutting/slicing off fish steaks.

                    2) Kitchen shears for fin removal.

                    3) Basic (as in approx. 9"-10" or so maybe? Haven't measured mine lately.) flexible uber-sharp knife specifically for skinning & fileting. I've found trying to filet fish with a non-flexible knife really inefficient as far as amount of meat left behind, as well as ease of the task.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Bacardi1

                      I'm going to buy online, any idea how I might be able to tell flexibility, or maybe it's just not possible over the Internet. I really want something cheap for now as I don't know how much we'll be using it. Hoping for like 10$ or a little more. I found a few, and I like the Rapala idea suggested above, maybe I'll go with that. Thank you.

                      1. re: bythebay

                        Even if the word "flexible" isn't in the knife description, they'll always be called a "boning knife" & should be fairly easy to spot. The knife will only be about an inch wide at it's widest point, & come in slightly undulated & straight blade configurations. There's also a sort of oddball type that has a blade that curves upward. I'd steer clear of those - can't see where that sort of blade is helpful in any way. Here's a link to a bunch of pics of what flexible boning knives look like: