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Taylor Peterson

Fillet Knife Questions

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Last year I had a terrible time trying to fillet fish. I was using a cheap 15$ knife(rapala I think) and I never sharpened it since I knew nothing about filleting. This year I plan on keeping many crappie, sunfish and pike so I need to get better. Would it be best to buy a better knife or will this knife serve me fine as long as I sharpen it often? What are some good knife sharpeners? Thanks

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Filleting fish is a skill that improves with practice.  I've used Rapala fillet knives for years without issues.  You might have gotten a bad one.  I've found that Rapala fillet knives hold their edge pretty well.  Just practice.  I had one of those ceramic rod sharpeners that worked ok for me.  While you are learning, take your time and don't hurry.  Some crappie fishermen swear by the electric fillet knives.  I've got one, but I've only used it for carving pork roasts & beef briskets.  It works great for that.

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Last year I had a terrible time trying to fillet fish. I was using a cheap 15$ knife(rapala I think) and I never sharpened it since I knew nothing about filleting. This year I plan on keeping many crappie, sunfish and pike so I need to get better. Would it be best to buy a better knife or will this knife serve me fine as long as I sharpen it often? What are some good knife sharpeners? Thanks

My brother bought a double sided Leech Lake filler knife and really likes it. By using the one blade for the first cut and the regular blade for the rest of the fillet it keeps the blade much sharper for longer. They aren't cheap. $100. But well worth it if you fillet a lot of fish.

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I used to use a rapala knife also, and practice is a huge part of the skill, but you will eventually hit a point when your equipment will start to get in the way. Check out the BUCK Clearwater series of fillet knives, they are very impressive for not much money.

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I have a rapala fillet knife and have used many others as well. The rapala works as well as the others, when sharp (but that goes for all knives). Most people cut themselves with a dull knife because they needed to exert a lot more force and when the object they were trying to cut lets the blade through their hand was the next thing there.

You need to invest in some sharpening tools. You will need to do some research but I can get you looking in the right direction. First you need to buy a "hone" these are the steel or stone sticks you see chefs using. It will be about a quarter inch in diameter and about 6-8" long with a handle. This should be used by you every time you fillet a fish (not that you need to do it between fish and in fact I would recommend not doing that). This isnt sharpening it perse but removing any burs on the cutting edge.

Second you will need a sharpener. Now you need to try as hard as you can to find out the bevel (angle) of the blade. Find one that gets close. Preferable one that has a steel (carbide) side and a ceramic side. There will be instructions.

If you feel the blade is getting dull you start with the steel side then move to the ceramic side. Then a quick hone and your good. Like the act of filleting a fish this takes practice and a cheap rapala fillet knife is a good blade to practice with. Not a nicer koa fillet knife that you were asking about in a previous topic because even that knife will get dull and need sharpening. Lastly I would still recommend finding a place that sharpens knives. It wouldn't cold that mich once and a while to bring you blade back to perfect.

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Okay, how come no one as asked if you want a flexible blade or a somewhat stiffer blade.  Working and making money filleting fish on the way home from fishing trips where it wasn't uncommon to fillet over 300 fish in a 5hr run in.  If you want a flexible knife, look into a Dexter, they have a good blade, hold an edge well and I would suggest atleast an 8" blade.  My personal preference would be a Forschner 8" curved breaking knife.  Get a double sided stone and sharpen the blade only one direction with only water on the stone. I used a med course/fine stone, think it cost me $15.  But I've had my fillet knives over 10yrs and one of them I have worn almost the whole blade down but it still holds an edge.  Use it to fillet any and everything.  Has a stiff enough blade to be able to push through the thicker bones.  Look them up on Google and check them out.  May run you between $30-50 but worth it and it will last you a life time as its Stainless blade.  I used to leave mine in saltwater all the time.  If it started to look rusty, a scotchbrite pad was all it took to bring it back with not much effort. 

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Okay, how come no one as asked if you want a flexible blade or a somewhat stiffer blade.  Working and making money filleting fish on the way home from fishing trips where it wasn't uncommon to fillet over 300 fish in a 5hr run in.  If you want a flexible knife, look into a Dexter, they have a good blade, hold an edge well and I would suggest atleast an 8" blade.  My personal preference would be a Forschner 8" curved breaking knife.  Get a double sided stone and sharpen the blade only one direction with only water on the stone. I used a med course/fine stone, think it cost me $15.  But I've had my fillet knives over 10yrs and one of them I have worn almost the whole blade down but it still holds an edge.  Use it to fillet any and everything.  Has a stiff enough blade to be able to push through the thicker bones.  Look them up on Google and check them out.  May run you between $30-50 but worth it and it will last you a life time as its Stainless blade.  I used to leave mine in saltwater all the time.  If it started to look rusty, a scotchbrite pad was all it took to bring it back with not much effort. 

Now thats some good info...:Victory:

When we were servicing reels in the SD area, we saw some of those knives the deckhands were using, very nice knives....

 

Tight Lines! :fishing1:

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I have two Rapala fillet knives. Both have lasted a long time, but need sharpening every time. I have no complaints with these knives. But, if you don't want to sharpen every time you use it, you'll need something better.

 

This one is better. http://www2.knifecenter.com/item/KS1259/Kershaw-9-inch-Fillet-Knife-1259

 

Good steel, excellent corrosion resistance, just enough flex in the blade, a nice grip, good length, and retains it's edge a lot longer than the Rapala..

 

You still need to learn how to sharpen a blade.

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Now thats some good info... :Victory:

When we were servicing reels in the SD area, we saw some of those knives the deckhands were using, very nice knives....

 

Tight Lines! :fishing1:

Yes, most carry a 8" and a 10".  And the #1 rule on those boats, don't use another persons knife....#2 rule, see first rule.  Those knives have to stand up to the abuse we put them through each day and cheap or poorly made knives don't stand up to the daily abuse we put them through. And if you ever have a wooden handled Forschner make sure you wrap the handle with some seine twine, it keeps it from wanting to split as well as gives you a better grip on the handle.  I have seen a knife catch an edge on the way in and stop....unfortunately the persons hand holding the knife didn't.  New deckhands have a steep learning curve that can hurt if you don't pay attention to what others say while learning. 

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I would stay with the Rapala and get at least the orange one of these.  Used them for years and they work great!  They can even be used on serrated knives.

 

http://www.theedgemaker.com/knifesharpeners.htm

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I agree if you plan on filleting a lot of fish then I'd get a better knife, and keep in practice. I kept a lot of my fish to eat in Florida I got to where I could gut and filet a fish as quick as I could unwrapped a store bought one from their paper and plastic bags. So then when I moved back to NY  I hadn't been keeping my fish as often plus the fish on a whole were much smaller. Last year was the first time I tried my hand at it again with a subpar knife and being out of practice it was a total butchering :(. I started keeping more fish that I'd normally toss back just to get back in practice (still legal size of course).

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Im thinking I'm gonna stick with the knife I've got and sharpen it often, I don't eat enough fish to justify buying a 40 or 50 dollar knife. Thanks for the advice everybody

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Beginning of last summer, 20 sunfish and crappie took me 20 minutes of hacking, sweating and gagging. By the end of the summer I could filet 20 in a couple minutes. Like everyone else said, practice is most important. Now I I feel like I could filet a fish with a butter knife.

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Does the little red sharpener that comes with the cheaper rapala knives work? For casual filleting, not huge 100 fish fish fries

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you can get one you hold that has the groove with 2 angled steel sharpeners and it will do you fine.  And it's got the plastic where it lines up to protect your hand and fingers.  May be able to find them at Wally World or any grocery store if you look.

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Does the little red sharpener that comes with the cheaper rapala knives work? For casual filleting, not huge 100 fish fish fries

 

yes they work. even these will take some practice but like i said there is no better knife to practice on than a cheaper one. Also look for a honing rod.

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A better knife will be a better knife, but you can certainly sharpen the one you have to make it work. You should only need to sharpen it once per 100 fish or so. Hone it with a ceramic or diamond steel after every couple fish. 

If you want to buy a good one, leech lake knives are the best on the market. 

If you want an electric, I suggest american angler with shark blades. If you get an electric, you will still need a fixed blade to take the Y bones out of the pike. 

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I'm decided, the knife I have is a 6 inch rapala, I'm going to buy a 7.5 in. fish n fillet kit for bigger fish and use the 6 in. for panfish. I think this setup will work fine for me since I am very new to filleting. Thanks everybody!

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I'm decided, the knife I have is a 6 inch rapala, I'm going to buy a 7.5 in. fish n fillet kit for bigger fish and use the 6 in. for panfish. I think this setup will work fine for me since I am very new to filleting. Thanks everybody!

 

This is a good idea. And yes the one in your kitchen will work just fine, though if you can swing it a nice ceramic one would be better.

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