Top 5 Best Fillet Knives for Saltwater Fish (2021 Review)

You don’t have to go out to a restaurant to enjoy delicious freshly prepared seafood.

I know that preparing your own fresh seafood can be really intimidating since salt water fish come in so many different shapes and sizes.

If you’re like me and love eating a variety of seafood, you might be intimidated by the thought of having lots of equipment for preparing your fish.

Fortunately I’m here to tell you that you really only need one or two specialized knives to handle the whole range of fresh seafood. You don’t need to add a lot to your kitchen to get ready to handle the full range of seafood.

I’ll talk about all the different kinds of knives and how to pick a more versatile knife for saltwater fish.

In this guide, you’ll learn:

  • What you need in a great fillet knife for saltwater fish
  • How to Pick a great fillet knife
  • And much more!

Below is a quick list of my favorite fillet knives for saltwater fish. Keep scrolling to learn more about my top tips to select and use the best fillet knives for all kinds for saltwater fish.

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Zwilling J.A. Henckels Zwilling J.A Fillet Knife, 7 Inch, Black
  • Quality Stainless Steel
  • Easy to Use Design
  • Ergonomic Handle
  • Quality Stainless Steel
  • Easy to Use Design
  • Ergonomic Handle
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WÜSTHOF Classic 7 Inch Fillet Knife | Thin 7" Fish Fillet Knife
  • Quality High Carbon Stainless Steel
  • Full Tang Design
  • Aggressive Tip Design
  • Quality High Carbon Stainless Steel
  • Full Tang Design
  • Aggressive Tip Design
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Rhinoreto Fillet Knife Fishing. Flexible, stainless steel blade
  • Incredibly Durable
  • Comes with a Sheath
  • Comes with a Honing Tool
  • Incredibly Durable
  • Comes with a Sheath
  • Comes with a Honing Tool
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Shun Classic 7-in. Flexible Fillet Knife with High-Carbon Stainless Steel Blade and D-Shaped PakkaWood Handle
  • Traditional Japanese Design
  • High Carbon Stainless Steel Blade
  • Beautiful Pakkawood Handle
  • Traditional Japanese Design
  • High Carbon Stainless Steel Blade
  • Beautiful Pakkawood Handle
View on Amazon
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Shun Kanso 6.5-Inch Boning/Fillet Knife; Stainless Steel Blade Handcrafted in Japan
  • Versatile Blade Design
  • Good Blade Flex
  • Durable Stainless Steel + Full Tang
  • Versatile Blade Design
  • Good Blade Flex
  • Durable Stainless Steel + Full Tang
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My Overall Top #1 Pick: Zwilling J.A. Henckels Zwilling J.A Fillet Knife, 7 Inch, Black

If you’re looking for a good all-purpose fillet knife that can be used on almost all varieties of fish, the Zwilling J.A. fillet knife is a good option.

It’s slightly sturdier than many fillet knives thanks to more durable steel.

That means that while this fillet knife still flexes as you use it, it’s unlike to bend.

This translates into a longer product life since you’re much less likely to see a curved or s-shaped blade when you’re using this knife.

Just as important, this fillet knife features a full tang, which means that it’s not likely to twist in the handle or become unstable over time.

The handle itself is also well designed to be comfortable in your hand, but also easy to grip firmly. When you’re working with slippery fish fillets, that’s an important quality in your knife.

I’ve got a lot more to say about this versatile saltwater fish fillet knife, but I’ll talk about its other features and benefits in my main review section. For now, let’s look at some of the other options out there and talk about why you need a great fillet knife for saltwater fish.

Top 5 Best Fillet Knives for Saltwater Fish

In a hurry? Check out our top 5 picks below! Keep reading to learn more about these saltwater fish fillet knives.

  1. Zwilling J.A. Henckels Zwilling J.A Fillet Knife, 7 Inch, Black (My Top Pick)
  2. WÜSTHOF Classic 7 Inch Fillet Knife | Thin 7″ Fish Fillet Knife  (Best High-End)
  3.  Rhinoreto Fillet Knife Fishing. Flexible, stainless steel blade(Best Budget)
  4. Shun Classic 7-in. Flexible Fillet Knife with High-Carbon Stainless Steel Blade and D-Shaped PakkaWood Handle
  5. Shun Kanso 6.5-Inch Boning/Fillet Knife; Stainless Steel Blade Handcrafted in Japan

What are the Advantages of a High Quality Fillet Knife for Saltwater Fish? 

When it comes to saltwater fish you’re looking at a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and general body plans. That means that you can either get a wide variety of knives that are each designed to handle one or two different kind of fish, or you can get one very versatile knife that can do pretty much everything.

To get a knife that can handle everything saltwater fish can throw at it you need a durable, sharp, and well-designed fillet knife. That means you’re best off with a high-quality fillet knife since they are designed to be both durable and versatile.

For one thing, you get better quality steel when you opt for a higher quality knife. Better steel gives you durability, a better edge, and more flex as you cut.

You’re also more likely to get an ergonomic handle that’s easy to grip and maneuver if you buy a higher quality fillet knife. Since fish tends to be relatively oily and slick a well-designed knife handle is critical for getting the grip you need when you’re working with fish.

The last big advantage of buying a high quality fillet knife is that it’s likely to last a lot longer than cheaper alternatives.

Read More >> How to Fillet a Catfish with an Electric Knife?

Not familiar with saltwater fish and how to prepare them?

This video is a great primer in how you fillet fish, especially saltwater fish. The video doesn’t include truly every fish in the sea, but close enough. I also love that they break the video into different sections for each fish, so it’s easy to use this video as a guide while you’re filleting your own fish.

How to Pick the Best Fillet Knife for Different Salt Water Fish?

Now that you know why you need a high-quality fillet knife, how do you pick one?

Choosing the perfect knife for saltwater fish can be a bit daunting since there are so many different kinds of fish out there.

The good news is that a great knife is a great knife. So a lot of the qualities I talk about in my Complete Guide to Kitchen Knives and other knife articles still apply here.

Size: 

Fillet knives usually aren’t too long; 7-8″ is about the longest you’ll see on a traditional fillet knife. There are some Japanese designs that are longer, and those are a good choice for big saltwater fish like Salmon and some varieties of Tuna.

But those longer knives aren’t necessarily helpful when you’re working with a smaller piece of fish. Since most people buy their fish from a grocery store at least partially broken down, I tend to think that a 6-7″ fillet knife is the best option.

Which is why the traditional Japanese knife I have on this list is only 7″ long.

There’s a reason that length is the sweet spot for fillet knives.

6-7 ” is small enough that you can use it on just about any fish bigger than an anchovy, but still big enough to cut clean salmon fillets and handle other even larger varieties of fish.

That length is also where you get the best flex in your knife, neither too floppy or too firm. When you’re filleting fish you’ll commonly flex the knife just a little to follow the curve of the bones inside the fish. So a little flex is important, but too much can leave extra meat on the bone or slip and cause injuries.

Read More >> The Best Fillet Knives for Salmon

Material: 

Stainless steel is the best option for most people’s fillet knives, unless you eat fish every couple of days.

That’s because stainless steel is more durable than other varieties and holds a good edge. The other good option is high-carbon steel, but high-carbon steel comes with a few downsides.

Let’s start with the benefits.

High-carbon steel can hold an even sharper edge than stainless steel. It’s also easier to sharpen, which means you won’t need to spend as much time on sharpening.

However, you’ll also spend more time on maintenance because high-carbon steel isn’t as rust or corrosion resistant as stainless steel. So, unless you’ll be using the knife every few days and can watch for the signs that it needs a little TLC, it’s better to stick to stainless steel for your saltwater fish fillet knife.

Design: 

Fillet knives are usually relatively thin. That isn’t always the case, as many traditional Japanese designs are thicker and use a single bevel edge to make up for the extra width.

Short of those designs though you should look for a narrow relatively thin blade.

Look for a full tang for added durability and a slick-resistant ergonomic handle. All these design features will make your fillet knife easier to use and more effective.

Read More >> What are the Top Knives to Shuck Oysters?

My Reviews of the Best Fillet Knives for Salt Water Fish

1. Zwilling J.A. Henckels Zwilling J.A Fillet Knife, 7 Inch, Black

Back to my favorite fillet knife of the bunch.

To quickly go over some of the features I’ve already mentioned, this is a stainless steel knife with a good ergonomic handles and a full tang.

Those features all make this knife durable, versatile, and easy to use and maintain.

I also appreciated that this knife arrives very sharp right out of the box. It’s ready to use as soon as you wash it, which is a big advantage if your current fillet knife isn’t working very well.

Its tip is also relatively aggressive, which is perfect for skinning fillets and even whole fish.

I also appreciated that there was a balance between the thinness of the blade and its durability. Unlike some fillet knives, this design is good for handling some heavier cutwork like removing fins.

Anything that cuts down on the dishes you have to do after cooking is a blessing in my house!

  

PROS (+)CONS (-)
+ Durable design
+ Low maintenance stainless steel
+ Sharp as soon as it arrives
+ Durable enough for heavier cutwork
+ Ergonomic handle
– Slightly more flex than some people prefer

2. WÜSTHOF Classic 7 Inch Fillet Knife | Thin 7″ Fish Fillet Knife 

This Wusthof knife is a slightly different take on the classic design.

The tip is even thinner and more aggressive than normal, which is perfect for starting cuts and getting underneath thin fish skin.

It also has a wide base to better protect the handle and your hand, cutting down on the oils and other moisture coming from the fish.

Like my top pick, this knife features a full tang and especially durable design.

But the steel on this knife is actually even better than the steel used for my top pick. Still technically stainless steel, this knife also uses steel with a higher carbon content than most stainless.

That means a sharper, longer lasting edge. This is a great knife for anyone who wants incredible sharpness, but doesn’t want to spend a lot of time on sharpening and maintaining their knives.

PROS (+)CONS (-)
+ Aggressive tip
+ High carbon stainless steel
+ Full Tang
+ Durable ergonomic handle
+ Designed to minimize mess and slipperiness
– More expensive than some alternatives
– Needs a safe storage area that protects the narrow tip

3. Rhinoreto Fillet Knife Fishing. Flexible, stainless steel blade

Sometimes you need something that’s a little more affordable, but will still get the job done.

This knife is a great choice for buyers on a budget because it’s designed as a first-choice fillet knife for fishermen.

That means it’s durable and effective enough to be used on a boat, but also more reasonably priced than most professional kitchen knives.

Its high quality steel and versatile design combine some of the best features of several different fillet knife designs.

Its got an aggressive tip with a wider belly as well as a more curved blade. That combination makes this knife easy to use on fish of all sizes.

Plus, since it comes with a honing tool and a storage sheath, you have everything you need to keep this fillet knife in top condition.

PROS (+)CONS (-)
+ Comes with a honing tool
+ Comes with its own sheath
+ High-quality steel
+ Durable enough for fishing boats
+ Versatile design works for a wide range of saltwater fish
– Knife blacking wears off over time

4. Shun Classic 7-in. Flexible Fillet Knife with High-Carbon Stainless Steel Blade and D-Shaped PakkaWood Handle

This Shun Classic knife may look more like a chef’s knife than a fillet knife if you’re used to Western knife designs.

But this gorgeous design is in the Japanese style, with all the flex of a fillet knife and more bulk to make heavier cutting jobs easier. This kind of knife is my go-to for larger kinds of fish like salmon. It’s also great for exotic options like shark, squid, and octopus.

The bulk of the knife gives it greater versatility, while the d-shaped wooden handle adds maneuverability to your grip.

However, this blade is definitely more high-carbon than stainless, which means that this knife is a better option for people who don’t mind a little blade maintenance from time to time.

PROS (+)CONS (-)
+ Traditional Japanese design
+ Great for larger varieties of saltwater fish and exotics
+ Beautiful pakkawood handle
+ Incredibly sharp
+ Blade flexes well for filleting fish
– Needs more maintenance than some alternatives
– Slightly awkward for smaller fish

5. Shun Kanso 6.5-Inch Boning/Fillet Knife; Stainless Steel Blade Handcrafted in Japan

Another Shun design, this knife is only slightly shorter but it’s also a better design for smaller fish.

It still has a full tang, and the stainless steel on this blade is much lower maintenance.

Though the blade design is a little wider than some, this is still a good option for skinning and boning fish, as well as preparing delicate fillets.

That’s because the steel is thin enough to flex slightly while you’re cutting through the fish, and sharp enough to cut smoothly even while it’s flexing.

While this isn’t a traditional design for Western knife users, it’s still one of the more versatile and durable options for saltwater fish. The heftier design helps it hold up against the bigger and firmer flesh of saltwater fish, while still giving you the maneuverability you need.

PROS (+)CONS (-)
+ Japanese design
+ Tagayasan wood handle
+ Full tang
+ Incredibly durable design
+ Upward tilt makes cutting fillets much easier
– Not designed for anything but fish

My Top Pick: Zwilling J.A. Henckels Zwilling J.A Fillet Knife

Overall I think that the design of this Zwilling J.A. fillet knife is the best balanced of all the options on this list. It’s lightweight, flexible, and made from the kind of high quality steel I like to see in a kitchen knife.

But it’s also low-maintenance, and a little less aggressive than some of the other designs. That makes this knife a great option for busy professionals and homemakers who don’t want to add knife care to their list of hobbies.

The handle is well-designed to keep your grip on the blade comfortable, and its slip-resistant handle is perfect for working with oily varieties of saltwater fish.

Final Thoughts On The Best Fillet Knives for Salt Water

Saltwater fish is a delicious and healthy option to include in your regular diet and having the right equipment can make it a lot easier to indulge in your favorite fish at home. All of these fillet knives are great options.

For real foodies and knife lovers alike, I’d recommend choosing one Western design and one Japanese design. The combination will let you do more with your fish, and give you more versatility in the kitchen.

But for most home-cooks one knife will do just fine.

Think about the kind of fish you eat most often and try to pick a knife suited to the size and shape of that fish.

No matter which knife you choose, I’m confident that these knives will serve you well and help prepare scrumptious seafood dinners.

One last thing…

Happy cooking!

Heather

Heather

My love for food brings me here. Over the last couple years, I've been building out my repertoire of the best kitchen gadgets and appliances to whip up my favorite meals. I'm on a mission to help you do the same, so you can bring out the spice of life in your kitchen and define your unique Kitchen Culture!

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Heather

Heather

My love for food brings me here. Over the last couple years, I've been building out my repertoire of the best kitchen gadgets and appliances to whip up my favorite meals. I'm on a mission to help you do the same, so you can bring out the spice of life in your kitchen and define your unique Kitchen Culture!

About My Kitchen Culture

Here at My Kitchen Culture, I review the best kitchen gadgets and appliances so that you can get everything you need to create your favorite foods in your kitchen. 

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