How to fillet a fish

If you’re wondering how to fillet a fish, take a look at this video by Red Castle Productions. The guy doing the demo worked at a trout farm for 7 years, so he’s had plenty of practice. I’ve never seen it done this way before, but it looks very efficient when compared to my standard approach of taking off one side at a time. This method does require you to gut the fish first, but it’s a good way to avoid wasting meat, so I’m definitely going to give it a try.

Best fish filleting knife

There an awful lot of discussion out there about the best filleting knives. The guy in the video prefers a 4-inch flexible blade when filleting trout between 7 and 30 inches long. Others prefer longer knives of 6 or 7 inches. To make things a little easier for you, I’ve tried to condense the various discussions and forum threads I’ve read, in one short article. I can’t claim to have tried these knives, but this is the impression I’ve got from all the different opinions I’ve heard. Like anything, a lot of it boils down to personal taste, although if you’re serious about fish filleting, you should probably consider buying two knives: one being a thin bladed flexible filleting knife for cutting around bones; the other being a stiffer, stronger knife for cutting through bones, cutting off heads and ‘steaking’.

Best fish filleting knife

Best value fish knife

A lot of people out there seem to think highly of Dexter Russell filleting knives, which “you can’t beat for the money”. They’re well made, their carbon steel blades sharpen quickly, their handles are easy to clean and the price is right. They’re also the blade of choice for a number of fishmongers, which must say something.

Having said that, I spotted one comment from a guy who said he used to use a “Dexter Russell sani-safe stiff boning knife [but he has] since upgraded to a new Henkels flexible boning knife”, which he likes a lot better.

Best filleting knives, regardless of cost

Although there are, like with most products, a few very expensive options, most filleting knives can be bought for less that about £80 GBP. Of these, most people suggest you can’t go wrong with a Wusthof, Buck, Marttini, Gerber or Schrade (such as the Ebbtide 231)- not the cheapest knives but, all brands that appear to take a consistent edge.

There’s also the old wooden-handled Rapala fillet knife from the 70/80’s, which everyone speaks highly of.

Fillet knife ratings

Another guy gave these three ratings, which are pretty helpful:

  • Tramontina – Brazil. $17.50 (USA). Polypropylene handle & stain-free high carbon blade.
    I give it 8/10.
  • IVO – Portugese. $63.00 (USA). Polypropylene handle & carbon blade.
    I give it 8/10.
  • Victorinox – Switzerland. $18.00 (USA). Timber handle & stainless carbon blade.
    It’s a 9/10: definitely the best and most used knife in the drawer.

Folding fillet knife

If you want to spoil yourself, you could go for the Kershaw 6-inch folding filleting knife. It will cost you around $100 (USA), but it’s perhaps more practical and portable than a fixed blade.

In summary

Choosing a knife brand depends on budget and personal preference. Buying a premium knife like a Buck or Gerber will probably guarantee you a decent blade, but you have to live with the fact that you’re also paying for the brand. If you’d prefer to invest time rather than your hard-earned cash, you could just opt for a cook’s knife or a trade filleting knife. It will almost definitely cut well and you won’t pay extra for the fact that’s it’s a product marketed for consumers. If you want to know which trade knife to use, there’s simply no better advice than to head down to your local fishmonger or fish merchant. Not only will they be able to guide you on what filleting knife to buy, they may also give you a free lesson in how to use it!

More discussion and photo courtesy of

Best knife sharpeners

Sharpeners generate just as much discussion as the knives – if not more! Of those mentioned, the Chantry / Procook V and Acusharp seem to do quite well, as does the Lansky Dual Grit Sharpener.

One chap said: “My preference is a 1000/3000-grit budget Japanese water stone”, which apparently “never fails”. Of the diamond sharpening blocks, Harbor Freight sounds like a good option, then there are leather strops with chromium or jeweller’s compound.

For very dull blades, you might consider a cheap belt grinder and 220-grit sharpening belts, which will help you bring the edge back. Once you start making progress you could switch to a finer grain and then, once a decent edge is established, maintain it with one of the sharpeners above.

Check out this video that we found on YouTube:

If you have a comment on this, we’d love to hear your opinion. Drop us a line here, or see our post on GooglePlus. Happy hunting!