One piece of fishing gear no angler should leave their home without is a good fishing knife. Fishing knives not only help you cut bait, rig lines, prepare a camp dinner, and filet fish but they also help you get out of trouble too.
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 going fishing.
Types Of Fishing Knives
Fisherman use 4 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. 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
Our Best Fishing Knives
Finding a quality fishing knife isn’t the easiest task though, which is why I have rounded up the best fishing knives on the market and reviewed them so you can find the best one for your specific needs.
- Spyderco Salt 2 – Our Best Fishing Pocket Knife Pick!
- Huntsman Outdoors Filet Knife – Our Best Fileting Fishing Knife Pick!
- Katsu Camping Japanese Knife – Our Best Overall Fishing Knife Pick!
- Smith & Wesson Extreme Ops – Our Best Budget Fishing Knife Pick!
- Kitoo 5717 Gut Hook Hunting Knife
- Gerber Suspension-NXT
- Victorinox Fisherman Swiss Army Knife
Spyderco Salt 2 – Our Best Fishing Pocket Knife Pick!
One of the best fishing knives around is, without 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 Spyderco 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 salt water
- 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 – Our 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 fishing knife comes with 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 with a great blade length, you can filet with ease.
While the blade arrives needing a sharpen, it sharpens quickly, holds its sharpness well, and it handles corrosion with ease too. 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 that 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 – Our Best Overall Fishing Knife Pick!
If there is one fishing knife that might just be able to do it all it is the Katsu Camping Japanese Knife. You will be able to rig, defend yourself, gut fish, filet fish, build bush camps, and lots more with this awesome fishing knife.
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 a knife that is almost indestructible 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, filet, 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 which means 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 have it hanging 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 & Carbon fiber
Smith & Wesson Extreme Ops – Our Best Budget Fishing Knife Pick!
The Smith & Wesson Extreme Ops knife isn’t a fishing knife per se but a combat knife that is very handy outdoors or for use while at sea.
If you are looking for a knife for emergency situations like cutting a wrapped line as well as one that guts fish and can be used in self-defense, then this is a great option.
This is a folding knife and when closed it is just 4 inches long and 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 it is super sharp for cutting through things 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 a little bit 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
- 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 a lot easier.
This fishing knife includes a serrated blade that will slice through the thickest of fish stomachs and it has a gut hook too 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 with ease, is super durable, and will never rust. The handle is made from Karton which is durable and acts like rubber so it is super comfy to hold and stays grippy.
You also get a leather sheath with this fishing knife for safe storage and you can keep it on your belt for easy access. These fishing knives are super expensive but they do 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
Overall Length: 10.25 inches
Blade Length: 4.375 inches
Blade Material: 440A High-Carbon Stainless Steel
Handle Material: Kraton
The Gerber Suspension-NXT isn’t a fishing knife, it is a fishing multi-tool with a few 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 after. The blade is sharp too, easy to sharpen, and holds its edge well. It also locks in place so you can do some heavy cutting when you need to.
The Gerber 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 2 hands to open up the blade though so it might not be ideal in an emergency.
- 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
- 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 Victorinox Fisherman 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 fishing 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 too. They are super sharp, great to use, hold their edge, and are easy to sharpen.
Included in the toolset are scissors, screwdrivers, a bottle opener, a can opener, and lots more. You will have everything you need for some time in the wilderness with this multi-tool.
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.
- Comes with a small and large blade
- Portable and fits in your pocket
- Has 18 useful tools
- Blades are sharp and durable
- 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 without my fishing knife, life wouldn’t have been so peachy. I got a line wrapped around my thumb with a sailfish attached to the other end, hooked by a Rapala lure that had a tuna attached to the other 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 as well as being a handy fishing tool.
Being a professional fishing guide requires me to own the best knives, not only for my own use but for the anglers that I teach also.
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 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. 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?
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:
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.
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 just looking at a pair of great scissors for fishing, check out my article here!
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. You can check out my article on the best coolers here! Or my in-depth review on the Frabill Magnum Bait Station here!
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.
If you are looking for an excellent all-around knife then I highly recommend the Spyderco Salt 2 – Our Best Fishing Pocket Knife Pick!
Thanks very much for reading my article. I hope you enjoyed it and have found the right fishing knife for you. 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.
Please share the article with your fishing buddies and why not have a look at our other articles too? We cover fly, coarse, and saltwater fishing with a section focused on beginners and getting started in the sport of fishing and also an entire selection of articles on awesome fishing destinations. around the world!
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