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Sep 5, 2013 03:30 AM
Discussion

Style of Fillet knife

Having for the first time in a very long time bitten the bullet and bought a whole fish to gut and fillet myself (mackerel, to be precise), I found that the knives I had were drastically inadequate... I ended up doing most of the work with an 8" carving knife/slicer, because my chef's knife (8" Sabatier) was too bulky and a paring knife too small. The problem was that using the rigid carving knife, I lost a lot of fish in the process.

How useful is a flexible filleting knife, or should I just practice using what I have? With where I now live (5min from one of the biggest fish markets in Sweden), I can see myself doing this a lot...

If I do get a dedicated knife, is the full-blade style http://www.global-knife.com/products/... or the cutaway "Swedish" style http://www.global-knife.com/products/... better? (I wouldn't get globals - I don't like the handle at all - but they're the first brand I could think of that has easily viewable pictures of both so the two styles can be compared without brand differences!).

I know someone is going to suggest a deba/yanagiba combination, but at the moment I think I'd rather stick to western knife styles since that's the technique that I'm used to.

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  1. I'm partial to what you call the "cutaway style", though, honestly, that's the only kind of filet knife I've ever seen or used. In fairness, I should note that I was standing on a dock for most of the fish I've cleaned/fileted over the past thirty-odd years, using filet knives with plastic handles that I bought at bait shops. Those picture you linked are pretty though.

    1. The 6" boning knife included with a knife set I was once given, is what you call the "Swedish" style. It's thin and flexible enough to fillet fish and debone other meats. "Thin" is the operative word, and also flexible. The "full-blade" knife you link to doesn't look right for the job, though it could be useful as a utility knife when the chef's knife is awkward and the paring knife is too small.

      3 Replies
      1. re: John Francis

        Agree. Long, thin, flexible, and sharp.

        1. re: Veggo

          Add in cheap and you've described every filet knife I've ever loved (and, often, lost).

          1. re: MGZ

            "It's better to have loved and lost than never to have filleted at all."
            Alfred, Lord Tennyson (slightly modified)

      2. No need to spend a fortune on a filet knife. The inexpensive "high Carbon" Dexter S133 (7") (8") (9") have been the most commonly used knives for decades in the seafood industry & also the most popular choice of party/charter boat captains. Very sharp edge & just as easy to maintain the edge. They come with wood or the Sani-Safe plastic handles MGZ refers to.

        I have cut thousands of pounds of fish with Dexters & have the 7" for smaller fish like Seabass & the 9" for the bigger fish like Stripers & flat fish like flounder where I slide the long blade down the backbone and cut off a filet with one swipe toward the fins.

        1. I am no fish filet expert, so I will restrain my recommendation. However, I have always love this youtube video. I don't mean to recommend the deba knife. I just think this video is nice. She is not professional, but she is entertaining to watch, and she has good skill.

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D0Oakn...

          Now, back to your two knives. I always have an impression that a fuller blade is a bit better for larger fish, while a thinner (thinner in blade width not blade thickness) is a bit easier for smaller fish for maneuver. The truth is that either knife will work for your Mackerel.

          9 Replies
          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            Damn! She's a girl, who can clean a fish and sharpen a knife...what's not to like?

            1. re: JavaBean

              I thought her comment was funny about knife sharpening. If I remember right, she said that showing off knife sharpening skill is impressive to boyfriends and his family -- EXCEPT not on the first date.

              I can tell you in my experience -- this is absolutely true. Do not talk about knife sharpening in the first date. :) This is why I think she is so funny.

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                I can tell you in my experience -- this is absolutely true. Do not talk about knife sharpening in the first date. :)

                LOL! My wife took about two or three years to stop rolling her eyes and shaking her head.

                1. re: JavaBean

                  <LOL! My wife took about two or three years to stop rolling her eyes and shaking her head.>

                  Do you mean that you told her about your knife sharpening experience when you two went on your first date?

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    I can't remember specifically, but i whipped out my mall ninja pocket knife in front of her early on. So,she's always known i had thing for sharp toys.

                    1. re: JavaBean

                      <but i whipped out my mall ninja pocket knife in front of her early on.>

                      In all seriously, it does not really sound that bad. A lot of guys do that -- unless of course, you went on and on about your knife for 10+ minutes.

            2. re: Chemicalkinetics

              I cringe when she makes the final cut to remove the fillet and she is cutting towards her hand.

              Jim

              1. re: knifesavers

                <final cut to remove the fillet and she is cutting towards her hand.>

                I don't see it. At 3:27 and 4:41 min, she has moved her hand left hand away from the knife path. Do you mean earlier?

                http://youtu.be/D0OaknSxYNE?t=3m27s

                http://youtu.be/D0OaknSxYNE?t=4m41s

              2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                Nice video Chem. She does know how to use that deba very well and kept me amused with her wit.

              3. The G-30 is the style most widely used here in North America. Of course, a lot of the dedicated non-commercial fishermen use Rapala, Dexter, or the cheapest flexible blade at the sporting goods store.

                The G-18 is more in the style of an Edo style sushi knife, but I use mine after I have taken blocks from large mackerel, yellowfin, snapper and grouper.

                Unless you will be taking apart a lot of whole fish, I would recommend the cheapest flexible fish fillet knife in the 20 centimeter length. And you will be getting much more meat off the bones with a little practice.

                11 Replies
                1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                  "The G-30 is the style most widely used here in North America. Of course, a lot of the dedicated non-commercial fishermen use Rapala, Dexter...."

                  Have to respectfully disagree as Its been my experience that most commercial fish cutting houses, commercial fishermen & mates use stamped Dexters or the equivalent. Most captains bring them in by the dozen and in most cases cheap pull through sharpeners replaced stones for speed purposes years ago on most decks. When the Dexter's lost too much metal they were re-ground into short bait knives.

                  1. re: Tom34

                    Wait... It seems to me that you two actually agree. It is just that INDIANRIVERFL said non-commerical, and you said commerical. Both of you did say Dexter is the choice for most people.

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      I took "Non commercial fisherman use Rapala, Dexters" as meaning commercial fisherman use something else..... but after reading the post several times I agree that INDIANRIVERFL may not have meant it to read that way.

                      Having cut thousands of lbs of fish both recreationally & commercially, IMHO, a G-30 or other expensive filet knife offers no advantages for "basic" filleting other than holding an edge longer which IMHO is negated by being far more difficult and time consuming to sharpen.

                      The slash marks (very common) are the result of not maintaining the proper blade angle to the bones. Due to bag limits, many very good fishermen never really get or keep the "feel" for filleting because they are only doing a doz or less fish at a time. On the other hand, stand there and do several hundred in one session and by the time your done, the carcasses wouldn't hold enough meat to feed a hungry green head fly.

                      1. re: Tom34

                        <as meaning commercial fisherman use something else..... >

                        I know, I know. I was thinking that possibility too, but then I realize that maybe INDIANRIVERFL only suggests he only knows non-commerical fisheerman use Dexters, and he rather not comment on something he does not know.

                        I am very new to fish fileting, so like the original poster, my skill can be vastly improved. :)

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          Chem,

                          Just like you folks who free hand sharpen on stones, there is a feel when the blade is at just the right angle to the bones. Key to developing that feel is to resist strong handing the knife & let the "sharp" blade do the work.

                          1. re: Tom34

                            <Key to developing that feel is to resist strong handing the knife>

                            I think that is a good suggestion. I was cutting the bone (spine) and stuck, and then I over-corrected....etc. That's ok. My first filet fish experience -- as far as I can remember. :P

                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                              You could try buying a flat of bunker at a bait shop for about $20.00 and cut away for practice & then give the fillets to a cat lover :-)

                              1. re: Tom34

                                I use a Dexter as do all the guides I've fished with here on the Texas Gulf Coast, except the one or two that use electric. I used Rapalas but both I had the wood handle rotted away from the blade from the saltwater use. The Dexter also does a good job trimming up fajitas.

                                1. re: James Cristinian

                                  The Dexter's I used commercially back in the 80's had the classic wood handles but they have offered the same blade in Sani -Safe plastic handles for quite some time. I am long removed from the business but the Dexter's were as good as others and better than most at a very reasonable price. Filleting a fish has as much to do with the hand that held the knife as the knife itself. Dexter's do as well as any, available anywhere, at a good price.

                                  1. re: Tom34

                                    <Filleting a fish has as much to do with the hand that held the knife as the knife itself. >

                                    Probably true for any tasks really, and probably 90% to do with the hand and 10% to do with the knife.

                          2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            Sorry for the confusion. Commercial finfish has stopped here due to pollution. Part time commercial(school teachers in summer) also a memory. Hence my reference.

                            All of the local fish packing houses shut down with the state wide net ban.