Recommendation? Best Folding Knife for Filleting Fish and EDC??

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by Backpacker1020, Apr 22, 2019.

  1. number9


    Mar 5, 2017
    I'm not going to recommend a specific folder, except to buy one with an open back and washers rather than bearings, so it can be washed out more easily and thoroughly.
    And, that a wood handled Rapala filet knife works great, weighs almost nothing and is cheap enough that you can still afford, and carry, the folder that you like.
  2. Bill1170


    Dec 20, 2007
    The Spyderco 6” utility kitchen knife is good and not too expensive. The blade is very thin but not just for filet work; it’s an all purpose shape. The molded plastic handle has texture for good grip when wet or slimy. They don’t sell a sheath for it. Cleaning fish guts out of a folder is... problematic. If it has to be a folder, the Catcherman is purpose made for this.
    Backpacker1020 likes this.
  3. summey1963


    Jun 24, 2015
    Case Slimline Trapper comes to mind? Shoot me an email at [email protected] with your address and I’ll send you one in stainless steel,the shield is missing (because they glue them in) other than that it’s good to go!
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2019
    Grateful and Backpacker1020 like this.
  4. Backpacker1020


    Apr 22, 2019
    I’m not looking to fillet any large fish at all. Only freshwater species like trout,
    Bass, crappies, bluegill, etc.
  5. Backpacker1020


    Apr 22, 2019
    Thanks so much for the offer!! I’m still looking around and if I get one I’ll just buy it new. That looks like a great model to check out though, thanks.
    summey1963 likes this.
  6. Backpacker1020


    Apr 22, 2019
    My question for the H1 Salt series is what style to get. There are many different types with varying serrations.
  7. Backpacker1020


    Apr 22, 2019
    What style and kind of serration do you reccomend?
  8. Backpacker1020


    Apr 22, 2019
    Thanks to the suggestions, I’ve narrowed my choices. Either I go with a decent budget fixed blade fillet knife (I’m looking at Bubba Blade 5”) or get a Spyderco H1. I may consider the Opinel or Buck as well. Do I need a partial serration, none, or full?
  9. Backpacker1020


    Apr 22, 2019
    Also need to mention that Buck has a folding fillet knife that is a little large but may do the trick. One more question- can the standard mora really fillet fish if sharp enough? When I tried (also my first time filleting fish) the mora wasn’t cutting well and felt big and thick.
  10. Surfingringo

    Surfingringo Gold Member Gold Member

    May 25, 2013
    Hi Backpacker, if you are looking for a folder for those uses I would highly recommend the Spyderco Pacific Salt in a serrated edge. If camping and catching the small freshwater species you mentioned, I would simply scale, gut and gill them and pan fry them or cook them over an open fire. Less waste and small fish always taste better cooked whole.

    I designed the Spyderco Waterway as a lightweight fixed blade that could be used for everything from fillet removal to camping and bushcraft tasks. It is also fully rustproof and part of Spyderco’s Salt line. I’m sure my opinion is biased but the type of use you are talking about is exactly what the knife was designed for.
    Backpacker1020, Bill1170 and jux t like this.
  11. TDOG1


    Jan 11, 2009
    You should also consider the Havalon Baracuta Z knife. These things are true scalpels. The blade geometry just plain works. Need to be careful when using as you can create open wounds very easily. :) If you're in a situation where you can't re-sharpen just exchange the blade and keep cleaning. Not the best edc but for a folding fillet knife, hard to beat. And btw Surfgringo's Spyderco Waterway is an incredible rustproof fixed blade. You should definitely get one of these.
    Backpacker1020 likes this.
  12. SuburbanBarbarian


    Aug 12, 2018
    I usually use Rapala fixed blade fillet knives. My only experience with a folding fillet knife was a Berkley one someone gifted me. I appreciated the thought, but by the gods was it annoying. Lock back with thick rubber scales and almost twice the thickness of the Rapalas I have. It killed all the feel I want in a fillet knife. I accidentally went through so many spines that day.
  13. sgt1372

    sgt1372 Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Oct 16, 2018
    I've got a vintage Catcherman. It's ideal for filleting fish -- that's what is was designed for -- BUT I don't think that it would be very good as a general EDC knife, which is what the OP also wants.

    If you want a corrosion resistant blade suitable for fishing and as an EDC, the Pacific Salt in plain or serrated would probably be best but it costs more than $80 which is the OP's limit.

    In the sub-$80 price range, I'd simply suggest a Spyderco Byrd LW FRN Cara Cara 2 w/a plain or combo 3.75" blade. The OP can buy 3 for about $78 -- 1 for the tackle box, 1 to carry and 1 for a spare. Should be fine for cutting/filleting fish and any normal EDC task.

    The 8cr13mov steel is stainless and easy to resharpen w/a pocket stone as needed (if you get the plain edged blade). We could argue endlessly about whether or not this steel is any "good" but, fact is, it's been around for decades and works fine if you treat it right. It's supposedly comparable to AUS8 and there's nothing "wrong" w/AUS8 IMO either.

    FRN has a great grip (even when wet) and is easy to clean; simply rinse under running water. Just make sure it's completely dry (using an airgun would be best) and coat the blade w/a suitable corrosion resistant lubricant (like Break-free) b4 putting it away and I don't think you'll have to worry much (if at all) about corrosion.

    BTW, b4 anyone thumbs their nose at the notion of buying a Spyderco Byrd, I own over 100 Spydercos, including a Byrd Cara Cara 2 and a Meadowlark 2. They are the cheapest knives in my Spyderco collection but they can perform as well as other knives costing 4-8x's more. Nothing wrong w/them if you can't afford (or don't want) to spend more.

    Last edited: Apr 24, 2019
    Backpacker1020 likes this.
  14. Backpacker1020


    Apr 22, 2019
    Great response. Thanks! I’m really considering the Spyderco brand from what I’ve seen you and others saying here.
  15. CanadaKnifeGuy


    Jan 27, 2019
    This subject is bugging me.

    It's like asking, what's the best axe to use to clean my fingernails or pick my teeth .
  16. Ebbtide


    Aug 20, 1999
    Well, you can get in your car thru the sunroof, but again, why?

    Cleaning fish and folders do not go together. If you've done that a couple times you'll come to realize that the folder never really gets that clean. Or that it takes more effort than it is worth to get a folder "eating" clean. Especially when camping. BTDT threw away the t-shirt cuz it smelled.

    No one likes a pocket knife that stinks like dead fish.

    As for filleting fish. You can fillet fish with any knife short of a clam knife. By fillet I mean taking the meat off the fish.
    If you want to do that quickly, use a blade larger than the fish is tall and you are done with 2 cuts.
    If you want every bit of meat on your fillet you can use any size knife and work with the point riding along the bones making multiple passes while holding the cut portion of the fillet up so you can see what you are doing.

    The only need for a thin flexible blade is for taking the skin off the meat. And that isn't always necessary depending on the fish or if you want to scale the fillet.
    When skinning fillets the blade has to rest flat on the cutting board and that's where the flex comes in to play.

    It is a knife myth that flexible fillet blades "follow the backbone" of the fish.

    (As with other skills, you need practice. Buying the knife isn't enough.)

    My favorite fishing knife for years was a Schrade Sharpfinger.

    Hope this helps.

    Obligatory knife photo below :)
  17. CanadaKnifeGuy


    Jan 27, 2019
    You want a thin blade to be able to follow the outside of the ribs as tightly as possible on these smaller freshwater fish .

    Flexible helps immensely with skinning, yes .

    Not many times will someone fillet a freshwater fish and not also skin it

    If you're ok skin-on, cooking whole is easier.

    A thin, flexible blade makes a bad EDC.

    Agree with folders being bad for fish .
  18. goalie39


    Oct 10, 2011
    How about the Columbia River CRKT Homefront Hunter -- comes apart for easy cleaning!

    Don't own one, but thinking about it...
  19. bobe01


    Oct 27, 2012
    I go fishing a lot and honestly, folders are terrible for fishing, they are maintenance nightmare, no matter how rust prof or simple designed they are. Dirt will win eventually.
    Yes, it can be unpractical to carry a filleting knife in a backpack, but good quality thin fixed blade would be a wise choice.
    I use Mora 090 and it's perfect for most fishing tasks. You can put it on your belt and it will always be on your hand.

    Knife is probably the most important tool for fishing and why would you compromise enjoying your hobby with (IMO) inappropriate tool?
    CanadaKnifeGuy likes this.
  20. sgt1372

    sgt1372 Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Oct 16, 2018
    Well, there is the CRKT "field strip" family of knives (that currently numbers 11, see) which you can completely strip apart for cleaning or the completely sealed MUDD (manual or auto) that you could use that could solve this problem BUT their blade shapes are not ideal for filleting fish and none of these knives cost less than $80 (which was the OP's price limit).

    However, there are alot of other folders that cost less than $80 that could be used to fillet fish (not ideally shaped but good enough to get the job done) and as an EDC. I've recommended one and there certainly are others.

    Frankly, I think that the complaints about how difficult it is to maintain a folder for fishing use is overstated. Really, all you have to do is wash the knife in a steam, in the ocean, in the river, in the lake or in a bucket (or under running) water. Most stainless steels available (even 8Cr13MoV and AUS8/VG10) will NOT rust overnight.

    Wipe/shake it dry (and leave it in the sun, if available to dry it out further) or blow it out w/compressed air (which isn't hard to do if you carry a DC compressor or have a tank of compressed CO2, as many offroaders use; I've got both). Even just spraying some WD40 into the pivot after washing would help reduce the likelihood of corrosion. Just follow up w/further cleaning/lubing when you get home.

    OBTW, my father (who was an avid fisherman) used a fishing folder (w/a blade and scaler) called the Colonial Fish Knife (made w/non-stainless carbon steel) for YEARS w/o any problem (you can still find them on EB) and he never did near what I've suggest to clean and maintain it. I inherited this folder (which is now at least 50 years old) and I still use it to clean fish at home. It hasn't rusted shut yet.
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2019
    whp likes this.

Share This Page