Best Fishing Knives: Reviewed, Rated & Compared

Twists, tie-ups, and catch prep all require sharp blades that can remain close at hand and handle corrosive elements. There's often no time to sharpen them in the moment. A good fishing pocket knife can make all the difference, but it doesn't have to cost a ton. Read this guide if you’re looking for the perfect cutting and cleaning tool.

Preview

Model

Blade Material

Blade Length

Check Price

Spyderco Atlantic Salt Lightweight Folding...

Spyderco Atlantic

H-1 Nitrogen steel

3.68 inches

Morakniv Companion Fixed Blade Outdoor Knife...

Morakniv Companion

Stainless steel

4.1 inches

Victorinox Swiss Army Cutlery Fibrox Pro...

Victorinox Fibrox Pro 

Stainless steel

6 inches

Rapala Lithium Ion Cordless Fillet Knife

Rapala Cordless Fillet

Steel

7 inches

Victorinox Swiss Army Huntsman Pocket Knife...

Victorinox Swiss Army Multi-tool

Stainless steel

3.5 inches

Spyderco Harpy Folding Knife with 2.75'...

Spyderco Harpy

VG-10 stainless steel

2.75 inches

Frosts by Mora of Sweden 299P Fish Gutting...

Frosts by Mora of Sweden 299P

Stainless steel

4.6 inches

Smith & Wesson Extreme Ops SWA24S 7.1in S.S....

Smith & Wesson Extreme Ops SWA24S

7Cr17MoV Stainless Steel

3.1 inches


Why Every Angler Needs a Fishing Knife

Knives are useful for preparing fish and cuts of bait, but there are other times when something sharp to cut line or removing hooks is necessary. The best fishing knife can do all these things in a pinch, but there are some times when specialized blades are needed.

Filleting and gutting could possibly be done with the same knife, but finer work like boning requires a thinner, more dexterous touch with a thinner blade. Knowing how to use a knife and which knife to use will help anglers make the best choice.


Buying Guide: Choosing a High-Quality Fishing Knife

Blade Shape

The most common blades are straight with a smooth edge, but there are also serrated blades (think of a bread knife) and curved ones. Curved blades give greater access to the sharp point of the knife. Serrated edges are better for pulling and sawing than chopping. The best saltwater fishing knife will most likely have a smooth edge and a smaller serrated edge beneath it.

Blade Size vs. Use

All-purpose blades for cutting line and gutting fish are usually between 3 and 5 inches while the sharper knives used for boning and filleting fish are longer, anywhere from 6 to 9 inches. Smaller boats and offshore anglers might not bring longer blades with them to the water, but they can help get rid of the parts of the fish you don’t need before heading home. In any case, they’re essential tools to have in the kitchen to prepare fish before cooking them.

Blade Edge Type

There are a huge variety of blade edge types, also referred to as knife grinds. This guide will go into more detail on these later, but suffice to say that the major types of grinds are hollow grinds, flat grinds, asymmetrical grinds, compound grinds, V grinds, convex grinds, and chisel grinds. Each has advantages and disadvantages, and some are much more common. There are also rarer cuts like hawkbill blades.

Flexibility & Durability

Knives, like fishing rods, should be tough enough to handle the job but not so inflexible that they break under stress. Almost all knives are made of one of a varying grade of steel. Normally it’s stainless steel, but other materials like carbon, chromium, tungsten, or magnesium are added to the knife blank to make it more flexible, more lightweight, or more rust-resistant.

Resisting rust and other corrosive elements is especially important in saltwater environments. For a long-lasting knife, make sure the blade can take repeated exposure to harsh elements with minimal upkeep required afterward.

Sharpness & Cutting Ability

Optimal fishing knives should cut through heavy hard plastic baits, braided line, netting, and other cordage that can twist or get taken by a target that’s too big to beat. More expensive equipment like rods and reels can be saved if a high-quality knife is on hand.

Sharpness is one area where a knife can let the angler down after a long period of use. The ability to sharpen a knife will make an investment pay off for as long as possible. The knife shape is the biggest inhibitor to sharpening a knife, especially if it's a curved shape.

Grip Comfort

For longer applications like fish gutting and boning, the comfort of a blade is an important consideration. If you plan to be cutting into fish and preparing dinner-sized fillets, a handle that is both grippable and slip-resistant is key to making the right cuts and maintaining possession of the blade. The grip should be both lightweight and corrosion-resistant. Look out for gaps between the handle and the blade where salt can get in and cause long-term damage.

Portability

Fishing pocket knives are some of the handiest to have because they can be folded up and stowed on one's person or clipped to the outside of a pocket for quick access. Fishing vests have plenty of room for hanging or storing folding fishing knives or hooking knife sheaths. The most important thing for the angler is to make sure the blade locks into the folded position or locks into the sheath and has no sharp points protruding. Bungee cables can be used to keep knives from going overboard.

Price

Knives aren’t the most expensive fishing tool, generally speaking. Some are made of very sophisticated metal and can cost a good chunk of change, but these are typically meant to be all-purpose and sharpened and kept for decades. It's not the norm, but there are knife manufacturers that will go so far as to provide guarantees or warranties of their products' quality. It's not necessary to buy the most expensive knife, but the less expensive ones usually wear out sooner.


8 Best Fishing Knives Reviewed

1. Spyderco Atlantic Salt

Best Saltwater Fishing Knife

Blade Material

H-1 Nitrogen steel

Blade Type

Serrated

Blade Length

3.68 inches

Weight

2.75 ounces

Safety Included

Folding knife

The Atlantia Salt is one of several models from Spyderco that is completely rust-proof thanks to the 1% nitrogen included in its blade blank. In the most extreme scenarios, like 24/7 exposure to saltwater, some gunk may form under the handle after two to three months, but even that wipes away in seconds and leaves no evidence of pitting behind on the actual steel.

The rounded tip of its full (or nearly so) hollow grind is perfect for slicing and with its serrated edge that slicing can be done in a fell swoop or with a sawing motion for cutting heavier test or even thick cordage if need be.

A round hole in the spine makes it easy to open this folding knife in wet conditions, even with gloves on. The fiberglass reinforced nylon (FRN) handle is lightweight and easy on the hands. A clip for storage and a lanyard hole allow anglers to keep this knife close at hand and secured against going overboard.

Even if it isn’t the best knife for straight chopping, this is one of the most versatile knives for anglers in freshwater or saltwater. The inability of its round point to stab makes it safer to use in rolling waves than most knives, and the ease of keeping it sharp and clean makes it one of the least labor-intensive knives to own.

Pros
  • Built-in lanyard hole
  • Perfect for sawing
  • Lightweight
  • Rustproof
  • Easy to open with gloves on
Cons
  • Not great for stabbing or chopping

2. Morakniv Companion

Best Knife for Cutting Fish Bones

Blade Material

Stainless steel

Blade Type

Smooth

Blade Length

4.1 inches

Weight

4.1 ounces (w/ sheath)

Safety Included

Sheath

While this fixed-blade knife may not be the best fishing pocket knife, it still fits easily on a belt thanks to the included sheath and makes for a great all-purpose fish cutting knife thanks to the sharpness of its blade and non-serrated edge.

It’s also easy to hold onto the rubber handle, which is made to be shock-resistant so anglers can maintain a steady grip. High-visibility orange is the safest bet for those who frequently sail in grey conditions like fog or rain, but there are also other colors available like black or desert tan, among others.

The blade blank is made of a stainless steel alloy specifically developed for blade use. It isn't completely rustproof but will stay looking clean with regular cleaning. It doesn't need sharpening so frequently to keep in working order.

The size of the knife allows one-handed use, and the asymmetrical grind makes it easy to rock this knife on a flat surface or cutting board to cut through fish bones quickly while keeping the fish steady with one hand. Best of all, it’s not limited only to fishing applications like some other fish cleavers are. It’s good to have around on any outdoor outing and especially handy on a fishing trip.

Pros
  • High-visibility colors
  • Easy-grip handle
  • One-handed use possible
  • Cleans quickly
  • Stays sharp
Cons
  • Not completely rustproof

3. Victorinox Fibrox Pro

Best Knife for Skinning & Boning Fish

Blade Material

Stainless steel

Blade Type

Smooth

Blade Length

6 inches

Weight

3 ounces

Safety Included

None

If this knife looks more like a kitchen knife than a portable fish, that’s because it was designed to cut up fish to pro-level culinary standards. While it may not be the easiest to store on the deck of a boat, the curved blade of this knife separates the skin from the meat of a fish like it's cutting through butter. For cutting up a catch back on dry land, this knife is fantastic.

The sharper point is built for precision in case the smaller bones of your catch are difficult to get away from the edible parts. It's the best boning knife for fishing because it works well, and it's easy to use, even for those without developed knife skills.

The handle and balance of this knife are exactly right for delicate meat preparation and even some light fileting. Unlike many curved blades meant for boning, this one is not delicate. The semi-stiff flexibility is well-suited to fish but won't give out cutting up other types of meat, although it isn't likely to cut through thicker bones.

It holds its edge well over time and is so sharp that some kind of sheath would be wise to prevent accidental cuts. Victorinox also provides a lifetime guarantee with the purchase of this knife for additional peace of mind.

Pros
  • Super sharp
  • Little pressure required
  • Well-balanced
  • Holds edge over time
  • Included lifetime guarantee
Cons
  • Hard to store on a boat
  • Sheath sold separately

4. Rapala Cordless Fillet

Best Electric Knife for Fish Filleting

Blade Material

Steel

Blade Type

Serrated

Blade Length

7 inches

Weight

4.8 ounces

Safety Included

None

Even if there’s no available power outlet onboard the boat, this is a great electric knife for cutting your catch into quick fillets so you can ditch the inedible parts of the fish rather than carrying them back to shore. This knife will hold enough charge to work for 80 minutes continuously, which should be plenty for anglers who know how to make fillets with this electric knife.

No sawing motion is required; instead, the user needs only to guide the knife where it needs to go to make perfect fillets in no time. Make sure to keep it clean if you're going to use it on saltwater fish because corrosive elements can limit the lifespan of this knife.

This knife is a bit heavier than non-electric models, likely due to the additional weight of the battery. Still, if you pair it with the best fish boning knife you can find, then the Rapala cordless will help get absolutely all the meat possible off of a fish.

Lateral cuts along the belly and spine can create the outlines for fillets on species like northern pike quickly and easily. It’s the best electric knife for fish cleaning that wastes neither tasty fish or the angler’s time. A one-year limited warranty is also included with purchase.

Pros
  • Long battery life
  • Cuts fillets quickly
  • Works close to the bone
  • Warranty included
  • Charges quickly
Cons
  • Corrosive damage possible
  • Heavier & bulkier knife

5. Victorinox Swiss Army Multi-tool

Best Swiss Army Knife for Fishing

Blade Material

Stainless steel

Blade Type

Serrated & smooth

Blade Length

3.5 inches

Weight

3.42 ounces

Safety Included

Folding, carry case included

This is the fishing pocket knife with the most performance options by far. As the best Swiss army knife for fishing, this model includes small and large blades, scissors, and a wood saw with a serrated edge. These knives aren’t going to beat dedicated fish cutting knives or fish cleaning knives, but they are ideal in a pinch and are strong enough to cut line as well as fish.

The built-in screwdriver can also be handy for fixing small reel hiccups or opening up a reel to untangle some line. The wire stripper on the base of the bottle opener can also be useful when working with fishing line.

Keeping the blades on this Swiss army knife sharp is as easy as using a whetstone or a grinding wheel. Cleaning the various tools and opening them up under warm water will keep them opening smoothly, but adding a drop or two of oil in the locking mechanism will help too.

A high-quality Swiss army knife like this one is also a perfect first knife for kids. It's safe, thanks to its collapsible features and the included carry case. The locking mechanism may be at risk of jamming if not cared for properly, but the blades themselves are tempered and polished to prevent corrosion and maintain shine.

Pros
  • Incredibly convenient
  • Corrosion-resistant
  • Easy to clean
  • Good for cutting line or fish
  • Great first knife for kids
Cons
  • Inadequate for larger tasks
  • Lock mechanism can jam

6. Spyderco Harpy

Top of the Range

Blade Material

VG-10 stainless steel

Blade Type

Serrated

Blade Length

2.75 inches

Weight

3.9 ounces

Safety Included

Folding

The unique shape of this knife is designed to showcase the sharp point of the knife and puts less importance on the blade itself. The double serrated edge is still great for cutting through just about any material from cardboard to fishing line, but it won't do as well cutting through soft fat and fish meat—the full-hollow grind curves over sharply into what's called a hawkbill knife.

The convenient thing about this shape is that the point will be really sharp and likely retain its point long after the blade has softened, so it will still be somewhat usable in that case. The bad news is that the curve can make it hard to sharpen and may call for a professional sharpening job.

The Harpy is designed for pulling cuts. For a knife that can be kept on hand and readily used to cut through netting, fishing line, and other cordage, this is a great option. It isn’t built for comfort, but then it’s really more for quick one-off jobs, not for longer projects like fish preparation.

It fits in the pocket and has an index finger hole for extra stability, plus it’s a great jumping off point for anyone who is interested in customizing a knife.

Pros
  • Perfect for “pull” cuts
  • Portable fish pocket knife
  • Customizable
  • Super sharp point
  • Built-in index finger hole
Cons
  • Harder to sharpen
  • Not great for preparing fish

7. Frosts by Mora of Sweden 299P

Best Fish Knife for the Money

Blade Material

Stainless steel

Blade Type

Smooth

Blade Length

4.6 inches

Weight

4.2 ounces

Safety Included

None

This is a perfect fish gutting knife because of the dexterity of the blade and the built-in spoon at the base of the handle that can be used to scoop out the unneeded guts and other fish parts. It resists corrosion and should resist rust spots as well.

The blade can be sharpened to a very fine point and will stay that way for a while. The blade is fairly flexible but will probably work better for cleaning the fish than it will for filleting; a dedicated filleting knife is likely a better bet, although this one will fillet in a pinch.

Additional safety gear like a sheath will have to be purchased, or some kind of DIY solution crafted depending on local laws. It’s also a bit hard to keep this knife onboard a boat safely without fashioning some sort of bungee that will hold it in place where it won't cut anyone on accident.

Nonetheless, after these minor adjustments, this knife is tough and easy to maintain. It's simply the best fish knife for the money. The handle is made of a polymer that won't lose its shape or cause discomfort after use throughout a long day of fishing.

Pros
  • Built-in spoon for gutting
  • Easy to sharp
  • Comfortable handle
  • Flexible blade
  • Fairly priced
Cons
  • No sheath or lanyard hole

8. Smith & Wesson Extreme Ops SWA24S

Best Folding Fishing Knife

Blade Material

7Cr17MoV Stainless Steel

Blade Type

Serrated & smooth

Blade Length

3.1 inches

Weight

3.5 ounces

Safety Included

Folding

The Extreme Ops is just the knife anglers want to have in their pocket to cut a quick line or put the finishing touches on a jumpy fish. It has both the smooth blade needed for swift cuts and a serrated edge for sawing and pull cuts.

It’s built for use in either hand and features additional design features for improved grip like jimping beyond the bolster and thumb knobs near the base of the handle. The high-carbon stainless steel used in the knife blank is a little softer than that used in competing blades, but not so much that anglers will notice the difference in routine usage.

For situations where it’s awkward to get this knife back into a pocket, the clip on the handle is really convenient. It would be wise to attach some kind of bungee or a float to this knife because if it goes into the water, it'll sink.

The grippy elements of this knife also allow the thumb or first finger to be used on the back of the blade for extra power or stability. It's a sturdy and dependable folding fishing pocket knife that won't wear down even after minimal maintenance and repeated exposure to harsh outdoor elements.

Pros
  • Comfortable to grip
  • Built for ambidextrous use
  • Serrated lower blade
  • Jimping & thumb knobs
  • Easy to maintain
Cons
  • Made of softer stainless steel

Different Fishing Knife Blade Edges

  • Hollow Grind
    A blade where the sides curve in on both sides evenly. This sharp point is ideal for scaling fish but tends to dull very quickly.
  • Asymmetrical Grind
    Two different edges on the same blade, for instance, a convex grind on one side and a round curve on the other, enables the user to apply pressure when cutting fillets.
  • Flat Grind
    Almost triangular, even tapering on both sides, starting at varying levels of distance from the handle. Ideal for gutting. Tapering beginning very close to the point is called a V grind. These are the easiest types to sharpen.
  • Compound Bevel Grind
    These can be bullet-shaped or similar. Gives the knife two beveled edges to improve cutting ability, which is useful when cutting line and removing hooks.
  • Convex Grind
    A V grind, but with rounded points. Very similar, but the convex grind is better for chopping up bait and harder to sharpen.
  • Chisel Grind
    One side is completely flat, and the other has a straight bevel starting about halfway up. It’s more of a precision knife, suitable for cutting in one direction, possible for filleting but definitely for gutting.

Tips for Sharpening a Fishing Knife

If you don’t have an electric knife sharpener handy, the best way to sharpen a knife is with a stone. Follow these tips to do so safely:

  1. 1
    Make sure to wet the stone underwater for 5-10 minutes.
  2. 2
    Start slowly and build up speed.
  3. 3
    Keep the angle of the blade between 12° and 15°.
  4. 4
    If your hands begin to hurt, change the angle.

There are also rods for sharpening knives, but they take some getting used to and can be more dangerous because the knife will be in the air rather than on a solid surface.


Caring for Your Fishing Knife

After any possible contact with corrosive elements like salt, wipe the knife down with fresh water. Use oil or another anti-water lubricant to maintain a shine if you want. If the line is rustproof, this care is not essential. If there's a screw-on handle, make sure to remove it every month or two and clean the gunk underneath it. Make sure to have a sheath or holder to keep your knife from getting damaged or hurting someone inadvertently.


People Also Ask (FAQs)

What is the best length for a fishing knife?

Try to match the length of the knife with the size of the fish. If you’re using it for cutting lines and lures, a shorter knife of around 4 inches is best. Longer knives between 6 and 9 inches are for boning, filleting, and anything that requires precision. Boning on smaller fish can be done with a shorter blade, but it must be a thin one.

How much should I spend for a quality fishing knife?

Depending on what kind of knife you need and for what purpose, it could be easy to find what you need for under $50, or it could take a larger investment above $100. Generally, if it's a high-quality knife, the larger investment is for more longevity in the blade, so make sure you can learn how to maintain a knife if you pay more for it.

Can I use a saltwater fishing knife in freshwater?

Saltwater fishing knives are crafted to be corrosion-resistant, so they should work just fine in freshwater. That being the case, it’s still smart to give your knife a good wipedown if you use it in brackish water or use it to cut through and dispose of fish guts.

What’s the difference between a boning knife and a filleting knife?

Boning knives might be more accurately referred to as deboning knives; they’re usually thicker overall even if the blade is thinner, straighter, and more rigid. Fillet knives are thinner and more flexible to allow them to cut through the delicate meat of the fish and separate it from the skin.

What causes corrosion in fishing knives?

Anything that can wear away outer layers of chrome oxide or other protective layers can cause pit corrosion, those little dark spots common on stainless steel. Saltwater can do it, but so can contact with other metals and the wide variety of things found in fish stomachs.

Where is the best place to buy these fishing knives?

All the major brands have their own websites, but they tend to try and push newer designs and might remove older ones entirely, even if they were better. For that reason, Amazon is a great place to shop online and find just about any knife still being manufactured. Cabelas also has regular sales if you prefer to go shopping in person.


Conclusion

A lightweight, portable knife is essential to have on any fishing trip to cut line, lures, and fish. The best return on an investment will be a durable, long-lasting blade. That’s why the rustproof metal content of the Spyderco Atlantic Salt and its overall performance makes it the best fishing knife for any kind of fishing trip.