7 Best Fishing Knives For Bait, Rigs, and Filleting Fish

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A good fishing knife is one piece of fishing gear without which no angler should leave their home. Fishing knives not only help you cut bait, rig lines, prepare a camp dinner, and filet fish but they can also be used to help you get out of trouble. 

In this article, let’s go into all the details about fishing knives and which one you should consider buying for the maximum benefit when fishing.

Types Of Fishing Knives

Fisherman will utilize four basic knife types:

  • Fillet Knife – Longer and thinner blade used for filleting fish from the bone. Kept in a sheath.
  • Pocket Knife – Small, versatile, and compact. These are foldable and are typically kept in your pocket.
  • Fixed Blade – Durable and for general uses. Kept in a sheath as these are unfoldable.
  • Multi-Tool Knife – Has various tools for multiple tasks. Small in size but can be very versatile.

How To Choose The Best Fishing Knives? 

Finding a quality fishing knife that stays sharp and is adaptable can be a tough task. Some have a specific job, and others are more versatile. However, different styles of fishing always require the use of a good knife. In our picks, I have considered both their purpose and the cost to narrow down to the most suitable options you need your knife to accomplish, for a range of anglers.

  • Spyderco Salt 2 – My Best Fishing Pocket Knife Pick! 
  • Huntsman Outdoors Filet Knife – My Best Fileting Fishing Knife Pick! 
  • Katsu Camping Japanese Knife – My Best Overall Fishing Knife Pick!
  • Smith & Wesson Extreme Ops – My Best Budget Fishing Knife Pick!
  • Kitoo 5717 Gut Hook Hunting Knife
  • Gerber Suspension-NXT  
  • Victorinox Fisherman Swiss Army Knife

Spyderco Salt 2 – My Best Fishing Pocket Knife Pick! 

One of the best fishing knives around is, without a doubt, the Spyderco Salt 2. It is designed to live in saltwater, hence the name, so if you spend all your time inshore or offshore fishing, this is a fishing knife you should pay close attention to. 

The Salt 2 is a folding knife which means it is small, light, compact, and comes with a pocket clip, so you can have it in your pocket at all times, ready for action. You will have to open it manually, but it is easy and can be done with one hand. 

The blade is 3 inches long and built from top-quality H1 stainless steel, which is both rust-proof and exceptionally tough. The stainless steel is so pure that nothing will oxidize on it so you will never have to worry about rust. 

Being such a high-quality blade also means it is super sharp and it stays that way too. Once open, it locks in place so you can do heavy work without worrying about it closing. 

The handle is designed for heavy work too with its textured grip that stays stuck in your hand even in bloody situations. Plus, being built from Fiberglass Reinforced Nylon it is just as durable and corrosion resistant as the blade. 

Based on my personal experience with using this knife, If you are looking for a pocket fishing knife then this is the one to buy! 


  • Opens quickly for emergency needs 
  • Locks when open and won’t accidentally close 
  • Grippy handle for use in all weathers 
  • Lightweight and compact for portability 
  • A super sharp blade that holds its edge 
  • Comfy, grippy handle that won’t slip when wet 
  • A durable blade that is rust-proof 
  • Will survive for life in saltwater 
  • Incredible build quality that lasts 


  • The blade is a bit short for things like fileting 


Type: Folding Pocket 

Overall Length: 7.25 inches 

Blade Length: 3 inches 

Blade Material: H1 steel 

Handle Material: Fiberglass Reinforced Nylon

Huntsman Outdoors Filet Knife – My Best Fileting Fishing Knife Pick! 

If you are in the market for a fileting knife, then you will want to cast your eye over the Huntsman Outdoors Filet Knife, as it is both excellent and very affordable for the quality that you get. If you have any doubts, it even comes with a 1-year free replacement warranty. 

This knife incorporates a fixed blade, as you’d expect from a filet knife. The blade is 6.25 inches long and is made from top-of-the-line 3cr13 stainless steel. When sharpened, the blade becomes exceptionally sharp and holds the sharpness well. Due to its great blade length, you can filet with ease. 

If a knife exhibits rust after using it for a while then you know it is made from poor quality material, however, the Huntsman handles corrosion with ease. You can take into a salty environment without any concerns. It is also tough and resistant to dents it might get from hitting fish bones. 

The handle on this fishing knife is built from polyethylene with a textured rubber grip, which won’t slip when you are fileting hard. It also comes with a lockable sheath so it can be stored away safely when not in use. 

This is an amazing fileting fishing knife for the price, and it hits all the functionality you need with a filet knife and more! 


  • Super affordable for the quality 
  • Includes a lockable sheath for safety  
  • Sharpens easily and becomes very sharp 
  • Blade holds its edge well 
  • Handles corrosion well 
  • Great for fresh and saltwater 
  • Filets fish like cutting through butter 
  • The blade is made from excellent stainless steel 
  • Excellent build quality that lasts 
  • Comes with a 1-year warranty 


  • You will need to sharpen it when it arrives 


Type: Filet knife 

Overall Length: 11.38 inches 

Blade Length: 6.25 inches 

Blade Material: 3cr13 stainless steel

Handle Material: Rubber & Plastic

Katsu Camping Japanese Knife – My Best Overall Fishing Knife Pick!

If there is one fishing knife that might be able to do it all, it is the Katsu Camping Japanese Knife. With this awesome fishing knife, you will be able to make up a rig, defend yourself, gut fish, filet fish, build bush camps, and everything you need in the outdoors. 

The build quality of this fishing knife is hard to beat as the handle is made from titanium and carbon fiber, while the blade is made from VG-10 stonewashed Japanese steel. Together, these materials create an almost indestructible knife that you can use in every environment.  

The blade is 3.9 inches long and comes in a cleaver/razor design. This means you can cut through fish bones to make steaks, filets, gut, and more. It can handle super heavy tasks and delicate ones, too. 

The blade is amazingly sharp and holds its edge for a long time. Plus, it’s durable too, so it won’t get dented or nicked easily. 

This fishing knife comes with a ball-bearing opening system, so you can slide it open quickly with your thumb. Once open it stays locked in place so you can use it safely. 

The handle features carbon fiber panels, which ensure it stays grippy in all conditions, even when your hands are bloody or wet. It also folds down small to 5 inches, and you can choose to hang it on your belt in the included leather sheath or safely place it in your pocket with the pocket clip. 

You might find this fishing knife expensive, but it is well worth it for its quality, functionality, versatility, and durability. 


  • Includes a leather sheath
  • The titanium/Carbon handle is great to hold 
  • A Cleaver blade is great for gutting and fileting 
  • The blade is super duper quality and razor-sharp 
  • Blade stays sharp and holds its edge 
  • Built with materials that will last forever 
  • The blade locks reliably when opened 
  • Lightweight and easy to wield 
  • Easy to open with one hand 
  • Amazing value for the quality 


  • Slightly more expensive compared to others 


Type: Folding knife

Overall Length: 9 inches 

Blade Length: 3.9 inches 

Blade Material: VG-10 Steel stonewashed

Handle Material: Titanium and carbon fiber 

Smith & Wesson Extreme Ops – My Best Budget Fishing Knife Pick!

The Smith & Wesson Extreme Ops knife isn’t a fishing knife per se but a combat knife that is perfect for any outdoor activity or for use while at sea. 

If you are looking for a knife for emergency situations like cutting a wrapped line and one that guts fish and can be used in self-defense, this is a great option. 

This is a folding knife, and when closed, it is just 4 inches long it comes with a pocket clip so you can keep it ready to go in all situations. The blade is made from 7Cr17MoV Black Oxide High Carbon Stainless Steel and is of excellent quality and even features a serrated edge towards the rear. 

You can deploy the blade with one hand very quickly, and once open, the locking mechanism ensures it doesn’t fold. It is durable, handles saltwater well, and is super sharp for cutting through anything when you need it to. Plus, it holds its edge well. 

The handle on this knife is built from lightweight, durable, corrosion-resistant aluminum. The only issue is that it is slippy when wet, so hold on to it slightly tighter. 


  • Light, compact, and portable  
  • A super sharp blade that holds its edge 
  • Easy to sharpen 
  • Opening the blade is easy 
  • Locks in place once opened 
  • Pocket clip for keeping it close by 
  • Handles corrosion well 
  • It can be used in saltwater 
  • Built from top-quality materials 
  • Affordable for the quality 


  • A little slippy when wet  


Type: Folding Pocket 

Overall Length: 7.1 inches 

Blade Length: 3.1 inches 

Blade Material: 7Cr17MoV Black Oxide High Carbon Stainless Steel 

Handle Material: Aluminum 

Kitoo 5717 Gut Hook Hunting Knife

The Kitoo 5717 Gut Hook Hunting Knife is a knife with a single purpose: gutting everything from fish to deer, hence it being described as a hunting knife. This isn’t a very versatile fishing knife, but if you do a lot of gutting, it will make your life much easier. 

This American made knife includes a serrated blade that will slice through the thickest of fish stomachs, and it has a gut hook, so you can get everything out of fish while preparing them. The blade is fixed and made from 440A High-Carbon Stainless Steel. 

If you know your steel, you will know this is some of the best, holds its edge easily, is super durable, and will never rust. The handle is orange, making it easily visible if you drop it on the grass or in the water. The handle is made from Kraton (a synthetic polymer) and acts like rubber, so it is super comfy to hold and stays firm in your hand. 

You also get a quality leather sheath and a lanyard with this knife for safe storage, and you can keep it on your belt for easy access. These Kitoo models are super expensive but come with a lifetime guarantee.


  • A great quality blade that handles corrosion 
  • Survives in saltwater 
  • Super sharp blade 
  • Serrated for heavy work  
  • Handle stays grippy when wet 
  • Includes a gut hook for removing guts easily 
  • Lightweight, compact, and portable 
  • Includes a leather sheath for safety and easy access 
  • Forever Guarantee, free sharpening, and replacement


  • Super expensive 
  • Not very versatile 


Type: Hunting

Overall Length: 10.25 inches 

Blade Length: 4.375 inches 

Blade Material: 440A High-Carbon Stainless Steel

Handle Material: Kraton

Gerber Suspension-NXT  

The Gerber Suspension-NXT isn’t a fishing knife; it is a fishing multi-tool with several knives to choose from. I always have a multi-tool like this when I go fishing, as I can fix engines, reels, cars, and lots more; they always get me out of trouble. 

The most useful tool on the Gerber is probably the pliers, as they are great for everything from tying knots to crimping barbs on hooks and lots more. The blade on the Gerber is also excellent and you can definitely gut fish with it and prepare a camp dinner, but it is too small for fileting. 

Built from stainless steel, the blade is tough, and it handles saltwater well, but you will need to rinse it afterward. The blade is sharp, easy to sharpen, and holds its edge well. It also locks in place so you can do some heavy cutting when necessary. 

The Suspension-NXT packs down very small, so you can keep it on your belt or in your pocket so it is always ready for action. You will need two hands to open up the blade, though, so it might not be ideal in an emergency. 


  • It comes with 18 helpful tools 
  • The blades are sharp and work well
  • It will hold its edge for a good amount of use
  • Great materials that handle saltwater    
  • Tools for fixing engines, reels, and more 
  • Includes a pocket clip for easy access 
  • Reliable locking mechanism for safety 
  • Affordable for the quality 


  • Two hand opening 
  • Blades are not very long 
  • It needs rinsing after saltwater use 


Type: Folding Multi-tool 

Overall Length: 6.8 inches 

Blade Length: 2.25 inches 

Blade Material: Stainless steel 

Handle Material: Stainless steel 

Victorinox Fisherman Swiss Army Knife 

The Victorinox Fisherman Swiss Army Knife is another fishing multi-tool with 18 handy tools that makes life easier out on the water, but it doesn’t have any pliers, which is a shame. 

The Swiss army knife does come with two blades, though, along with a descaler and a hook disgorger, too, so it does have some great fish-specific tools on it. 

The knives on this multi-tool come in two sizes, one large and one small, meaning you have one for intricate tasks and another for heavier work. They are super sharp, great to use, hold their edge, and are easy to sharpen. 

The toolset includes scissors, screwdrivers, a bottle opener, a can opener, and lots more. With this multi-tool, you will have everything you need for some time in the wilderness. 

The thing I love most about this is how small it is. You can carry it around without noticing it, have it in your pocket, and take it anywhere. 

The annoying thing about this fishing multi-tool is that the blades aren’t very long. 


  • It comes with a small and large blade 
  • Portable and fits in your pocket 
  • It has 18 useful tools 
  • Blades are sharp and durable 
  • It also features a hook disgorger and a descaler 
  • Awesome Swiss quality 
  • Affordable for the quality 


  • The blades could be longer 
  • Won’t work for fileting 


Type: Folding Multi-tool 

Overall Length: 7.4 inches 

Blade Length: 3.6 inches 

Blade Material: Swiss Stainless Steel 

Handle Material: Polyethylene 

Fishing Knife Safety

I have had a few instances where life wouldn’t have been so peachy without my fishing knife. I got a line wrapped around my thumb with a sailfish attached to the other end, and another case when I was hooked by a Rapala lure that had a tuna attached to the second treble hook, and the list goes on. 

If I hadn’t had a fishing knife in these situations, my hands wouldn’t be the same, and therefore, owning the best fishing knife is a matter of safety and being a handy fishing tool. 

Being a professional fishing guide requires me to own the best knives, not only for my own use but also for the anglers I teach.

Using A Fishing Knife – Essential Tips

  • Always ensure that you keep your knife handle dry and clean.
  • Always dry your hands before you start to use the knife.
  • After using the knife, always wipe the knife down with a clean, dry cloth.
  • When filleting always use a non-slip cutting board.
  • Rinse down and dry your hands, knife, and cutting board after use.
  • Always keep the blade sharp to avoid having to use extra force when cutting. 
  • Use a glove while cutting. (if possible)
  • Return the knife to the sheath once finished using it.
  • Always pick up a knife using the handle.
  • Never let a young child use your knife.

Law When Buying And Using A Fishing Knife

Knife legislation is different across each country around the world, with various restrictions. Fishing knives have no specific regulations and are considered a blade. So, always check your country’s regulations, and be aware they may change from time to time.

In the United States carrying and buying a knife is under federal laws but also regulated differently at local and state levels. Therefore, when using a knife in a different state may be against the law. Always check the laws carefully in the area where you intend to go fishing in.

Why Use A Knife For Fishing?

Spiderco Salt fishing knife
Spyderco has a full range of fishing knives, but the Salt 2 is the best allrounder

Taking a knife when going fishing has multiple uses for every type of angler. Some are critical, and other tasks are just for convenience. Here are the main reasons for carrying a knife when you go off on a fishing trip:

Bait Preparation

When prepping bait there is no other tool that is in the fisherman’s toolbox which can do the job as efficiently and as fast. Bait preparation is key for predator fishing, both in rivers and saltwater. The knife can allow you to fillet different sizes and shapes very cleanly, making the bait presentation that much more appealing to the fish.

Cutting Line

Most anglers will use scissors when cutting fishing lines of smaller sizes, however when saltwater fishing a knife makes the job much easier. A heavy-duty line will blunt small scissors, but a sharp knife can slice through the line fast. If in emergency situations the knife is faster to use and the line can be further away from you when you cut it. 

If you are not comfortble handling a knife or need an alternative, then a pair of great fishing scissors, is a safer option especially for the younger anglers.

Keeping Your Fish To Take Home

Using a knife is the quickest and easiest way of slaughtering your allowable limit of fish to take home. The sharp blade will allow you to remove the insides that would normally be discarded such as the guts and fins. If you do need to kill the fish with a knock to its head then the handle of your knife will do the job perfectly. 

Cleaning and Filleting Your Catch

Once your fish are slaughtered, then the knife can be used to clean and fillet the fish perfectly and then put the fish in clean water or in an ice bucket or your favorite cooler box. The Frabill Magnum Bait Station is the pefect option for live bait options and also for staoring your catch whilst you fish.

Campfires And Cooking On Long Fishing Trips

Certain anglers combine their fishing trips with going camping and cooking – especially those that do a lot of night fishing or longer 2 or 3 days trips. This is where a good fishing knife can be essential for doing all your prep work for these tasks.

Blading Away 

If you are looking for an excellent all-around knife then I highly recommend the Spyderco Salt 2, which is the perfect option for those who dont want to buy multiple knives.

Thanks very much for reading my article, I hope you enjoyed it. The key to picking the right one is deciding what the knife’s main purpose is and then buying a knife to match that is built to last and make cutting easy and safe.

Jamie Melvin