Fillet knife: Purpose, Design features, Step-by-step guide

Fillet knife- Purpose, Design features, Step-by-step guide.

A fillet knife is used for cutting and cleaning fish. The device has a characteristic length and shape of the blade and sharpening angle. When buying, it is important to pay attention to the quality and shape of the blade, the material of the handle, and the design features of the model. The best kitchen appliances are produced by Japanese and European manufacturers.

Purpose and design features fillet knife

Fillet knives are designed for processing fish. They are divided into 2 groups according to the length of the blade – more or less than 5,9 inches.

Design features:

  • The cutting blade is narrow and long, from 5.5 to 11.8 inches. The most common models are 6.2, 7.08, and 8.3 inches long. The length of the blade should be 1.5 times the width of the carcass.
  • The blade is flexible enough to easily pass over the backbone and tendons of the fish.
  • Some models have a serrated edge to handle the tail and fins.
  • The tip is thin so it’s more convenient to make fine cuts on the skin.
  • At the base of the handle, there is a thrusting pad for the index finger.
  • Fillet knives can be folding or have a fixed blade.

Purpose of accessories:

  • Cleaning and gutting fish.
  • Separating meat from bones and backbone.
  • Cutting carcasses into portions.
  • Cutting thin slices for sushi and other dishes.

What a fillet knife consists of

All fillet knives for meat and fish consist of two parts – the blade and the handle.


The handle of the kitchen tool should be comfortable and not slip out of your hands. The knife must rest comfortably in the cook’s hand. Many models have special limiters at the junction of the blade and handle. They allow you to save your hands from cuts and scratches when cutting fish.

The materials from which the handles are made must meet the following requirements:

  1. Be durable.
  2. Do not slip out of your hands when working.
  3. Do not absorb moisture or odors.
  4. Easy to clean.

Most often, handles are made of plastic, rubber, or wood. Each material has its characteristics:

  1. Plastic products are hygienic, do not absorb odors, and are easy to clean. They do not weigh much. You can find products with plastic handles of different colors on sale. However, wet plastic has a slippery surface, which causes inconvenience when working.
  2. Molded rubber handles also come in different colors and shades. They are durable, non-slippery when in use and look attractive. These models do not absorb fish odors. They are easy to clean.
  3. Wooden handles are convenient and aesthetic, do not slip out of the hands when cutting. However, wood easily absorbs moisture and odors, so it requires especially careful care.


The blade of a filing and carving knife is made of steel. It must meet the following requirements:

  • Blade thickness of 0,02 to 0,06 inches, blade width – 1 inch.
  • The angle of sharpening – 15 or 25 degrees.
  • Steel is flexible, strong, resistant to corrosion. Damascus steel is the optimal material.

Chopping knives for tourists are made according to the following standards:

  • Blade length of 5.9 to 7.9 inches, thickness up to 0.8 inches.
  • The width of the blade is less than the width of the handle.
  • There are special teeth on the shank to remove scales from the carcass.
  • The blade is made of stainless steel of medium hardness. It allows to keep the knife sharp for a long time and if needed to sharpen it manually in the field conditions.
  • There is a small guard at the base of the blade. It protects your hands from injury, especially when cutting large bones.
  • The blade is concave, with a place to rest your finger.

Step-by-step guide how to choose

When choosing a fillet knife, it is important to pay attention to the following parameters:

  1. The optimal length of the blade is 6,3-7,5 inches.
  2. The blade should be made of stainless steel, which is resistant to corrosion, resilient, and keeps sharpening for a long time.
  3. An edge with a saw-shaped sharpening will deform the fillets and make the cut jagged. Only large fish can be cut with these knives.
  4. Excessive flexibility of the blade will make it difficult to clean the fish carcasses.
  5. The handle should lie comfortably in the hand, not slip, and be easily cleaned of grease and dirt. It is best to choose models with a rubberized handle.
  6. Models with a fixed blade are more convenient to work with than folding ones. In addition, during work, a lot of dirt gets into the handle of such a knife. Cleaning such a model can be difficult.
  7. Knives with grooves on the surface of the blade are produced for cleaning and cutting oily fish.
  8. Sheaths must hold the blade tightly, prevent the blade from falling out and ensure safety during storage and transportation.
  9. For cleaning scales, a model with a container made of metal is suitable. The container can be stationary or removable.

Bottom line

The handle of a fillet knife must be comfortable and non-slip so that it lies firmly in the hand and does not slip out even from the wet palms. If you often work with raw fish, choose a handle of modern polymers: it does not absorb moisture, dirt, and odors, it is easy to clean, and does not deform over time. Remember that the smell of fish is difficult to remove if it is deeply absorbed into the material. Such a knife is convenient to take with you on a fishing trip in order to cut a fresh catch at once.

It is good if there is a recess at the base of the handle for the finger: so it will not slip to the blade, and the grip will be more convenient. This ledge replaces the clasp on the blade, which is usually missing in filleting machines.

Another distinctive detail is the narrow beech and blade sharpening when the knife becomes progressively thinner from the upper edge of the blade to the cutting edge. The angle of sharpening is usually 20-25 degrees.