7 Best Fishing Knives For Bait, Rigs, & Fileting Fish

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A quality fishing knife is an accessory every angler should have in their tackle box. Fishing knives not only help you cut bait, rig lines, prepare a camp dinner, and filet fish, but they can also help you get out of trouble. 

In this article, we will discuss all the details about fishing knives and which one you should consider choosing 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: This knife is Small, versatile, and compact. It is foldable and is typically kept in your pocket.
  • Fixed Blade: Durable and for general uses. Kept in a sheath as these are unfoldable.
  • Multi-Tool Knife: This small but very versatile knife has a range of tools for multiple tasks.

How To Choose A Fishing Knife? 

Finding a quality fishing knife that stays sharp and adaptable is the priority. Some knives have a specific job, and others are more versatile. My choices are categorized to fit specific anglers and their purpose, quality, and cost to narrow down to the most suitable options for various anglers.

  • Spyderco Salt 2 – My Best Overall 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 Overall 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, and compact. It also comes with a pocket clip, so you can keep it in your pocket at all times, ready for action. You must 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 stays that way. Once open, it locks securely in place, so you can do heavy work without worrying about it closing. 

The handle is also designed for heavy work, with its textured grip that stays in your hand even when wet or when your hands are covered in fish slime. Plus, being built from Fiberglass-Reinforced Nylon, it is just as durable and corrosion-resistant as the blade. 

Based on my experience with using this knife over many years, If you are looking for a pocket fishing knife, 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. It is excellent for small and medium-sized fish and very affordable for the quality you get. If you have any doubts, it even comes with a one 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 ideal blade length, you can filet fish 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 it 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. The orange handle and sheath make it easy to find if you misplaced it.

This is a fantastic fileting fishing knife for the price. It has all the functionality you need in 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 
  • Excellent for fresh and saltwater 
  • Filets fish like cutting through butter 
  • The blade is made from excellent stainless steel 
  • Excellent build quality that lasts 
  • It 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. Many anglers don’t want two or three different knives; if this is you, then seriously consider this option. You can make up a rig, defend yourself, gut fish, filet fish, build bush camps, and everything you need outdoors. 

The build quality of this fishing knife is hard to beat. 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 you can use in every environment.  

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

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

This fishing knife incorporates a ball-bearing opening system. You can slide it open quickly with your thumb, and 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. 

Although this fishing knife is expensive, its quality, functionality, versatility, and durability are well worth the price. 


  • Includes a leather sheath
  • The titanium/Carbon handle is great to hold 
  • A cleaver blade is ideal 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 
  • Fantastic 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 use while fishing at sea. 

This is a great option if you are looking for a knife for emergency situations, such as cutting a wrapped line, or one that guts fish and can be used in self-defense. 

This is a folding knife. When closed, it is just 4 inches long. It comes with a pocket clip, so you can keep it ready to go in any situation. The blade is made from 7Cr17MoV black oxide high-carbon stainless steel and is of excellent quality. It 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. 

A limited lifetime assurance covers the product.


  • 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: 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 is 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 fish stomachs. It also has a gut hook so you can remove everything from 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 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. 

This knife also comes with a quality leather sheath and a lanyard 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 multi-tool which can cover a multitude of issues that anglers need when they go fishing. I always have a multi-tool like this when I go fishing, as I can fix basic mechanical problems, reels, cars, and lots more; they always get me out of trouble. 

The most helpful 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 knife is also excellent, and you can definitely gut fish with it and prepare a basic camp dinner, but it is too small for fileting. 

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

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. However, you will need two hands to open up the blade, 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
  • Excellent materials that handle saltwater    
  • Tools for fixing engines, reels, and more 
  • Includes a pocket clip for easy access 
  • Reliable locking mechanism for safety 
  • Very affordable for the quality 


  • Two hand opening 
  • Blade 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, however, the downside is that 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, so it does have some useful 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, and therefore has some limited uses. 


  • 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 
  • It 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 a fishing knife can be a matter of safety as well as being a handy fishing tool. 

Being a professional fishing guide requires me to own the best knives, both 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 afterward.
  • Always keep the blade sharp to avoid using 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.
  • Only adults should use knives.

Laws When Buying & Using A Fishing Knife

Knife legislation is different in each country around the world, with various restrictions. Fishing knives have no specific regulations and are considered blades. 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 are regulated by federal laws but also differently at local and state levels. Therefore, 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 the UK, knives are legal to carry providing they have a folding blade less than 3″ in length. Therefore certain knives on this list are deemed illegal to carry.

5 Reasons Why You Need A Fishing Knife

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

Taking a knife when you go 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, no other tool in the fisherman’s toolbox can do the job as efficiently and as fast. Bait preparation is key for predator fishing, both in rivers and saltwater. The knife allows 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 comfortable handling a knife or need an alternative, then a pair of great fishing scissors is a safer option, especially for younger anglers.

Keeping Your Fish To Take Home

Using a knife is the quickest and easiest way of slaughtering your allowable fish limit to take home. The sharp blade allows 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, the knife can be used to clean and fillet them perfectly. Then, the fish can be put in clean water, an ice bucket, or your favorite cooler box. The Frabill Magnum Bait Station is the perfect option for live bait and storing your catch while fishing.

Campfires And Cooking On Long Fishing Trips

Many anglers combine their fishing trips with going camping and cooking – especially those that do a lot of night fishing or longer trips. It’s times such as these, when fishing knives can be essential for doing all the prep work and for those tasks while out in the wilderness.

Blading Away 

If you are looking for an excellent all-around knife, 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 primary purpose is and then buying a knife to match that is built to last and make cutting easy and safe.

Jamie Melvin