Informational Guide

How To Sharpen A Rapala Fillet Knife

The ultimate guide to sharpening a Rapala fillet knife. Slice fish with ease after you sharpen the blade correctly.

by Andrew

Informational Guide

How To Sharpen A Rapala Fillet Knife

The ultimate guide to sharpening a Rapala fillet knife. Slice fish with ease after you sharpen the blade correctly.

by Andrew

by Andrew

If you have been fishing for any amount of time, you understand the importance of having a sharp fillet knife in your arsenal of fishing gear. A well-built fillet knife made by Rapala from quality materials is the industry standard amongst anglers. This article is a guide on how to care for and keep that fillet knife sharp so that it is ready for action at all times.

Using a sharp fillet knife is the key to simple and safe fish cleaning. When a blade is dull, the task of filleting becomes frustrating and dangerous. The only thing worse than hacking up your beautiful fillets with a dull knife is accidentally slipping and cutting yourself rather than the fish.

Using a dull knife necessitates more pressure on the blade to cut. As we all know, fish are slippery, and the surface on which you are cutting may also be slick. Applying too much pressure because you have a dull knife could lead to a disaster quickly.

Benefits of Properly Sharpened Fillet Knives

Rapala fillet knives come sharpened right out of the box. This is perfect for that initial fish, but as you begin to fillet multiple fish, that blade slices through thick scales and bounces off bones. The blade becomes dull, and we just discussed a dull blade being a dangerous blade. So, what do you do? Well, you sharpen it, of course! There are plenty of advantages to having a sharp knife.

  • A properly sharpened blade makes cleaner cuts. This diminishes the possibility of ruining the shape of fillets and ensures uniformity.
  • Second, a sharp knife is tremendously easier to cut with. The time and effort to clean your catch of the day is much less than it would be with a dull knife, giving you more time to tell fish stories.
  • A sharpened knife is safer. Using a 10-inch dull blade is significantly more dangerous than using a 10-inch sharp Rapala fillet knife

Styles of Rapala Fillet Knives

Rapala fillet knives come in various shapes and sizes. Rapala even produces an electric version with a reciprocating set of blades to make cleaning fish easier and faster. I will also speak from experience and tell you that these electric Rapala fillet knives are great for carving a turkey!

As for traditional fillet knives, Rapala makes versions with various blade lengths and handle material selections. You can check out the Rapala fillet knives we have reviewed here.

Sharpening a Rapala Fillet Knife Blade (4 Methods)

Knife sharpeners are a necessity in any kitchen and tackle box. We will discuss a few of the popular sharpeners and methods of use so that you have a better understanding of how they work and which versions you should keep handy for sharpening your Rapala fillet knife.

To sharpen your Rapala fillet knife in any scenario, the blade needs to be run over the sharpener at an angle slightly less than parallel so that you are sharpening, not damaging the cutting edge.

Keep in mind, when sharpening your knife, you are looking to develop a burr on the cutting edge. Once a burr is formed along the entire length of your blade, it is considered sharp. Sharpening past the burr only wastes time and blade material.

1. Traditional Sharpening Devices

  • Sharpening Stones
    The purest method of knife sharpening, sharpening stones have been a staple since the dawn of time. For most users, the adage, "if it's not broken, don't fix it," holds for this method. Users push the blade along the face of the stone with light pressure to sharpen the cutting edge.
  • Whetstone - Can be natural or artificial ceramic stones that are long and flat with abrasive faces. Most will have a fine abrasive face and a coarse abrasive face. These are best for honing the knife blade rather than making serious adjustments.
  • Grindstone - Traditionally a round, stone wheel that is spun consistently while a knife is dragged against it. A grindstone is used more often for a larger, rigid blade, not your Rapala fillet knife.
  • Waterstone - A traditional Japanese method for sharpening, a Waterstone is a ceramic 800-1200 grit stone dipped in water to sharpen blades. The blade is dragged back and forth across the stone at a consistent angle to sharpen.
  • Sharpening Steel/Rod
    Rods are a way of honing a blade. These are made from either ceramic or steel dowels that a knife is dragged against to remove subtle imperfections on the burr of the blade.

2. Manual Knife Sharpener

Manual sharpeners are handheld devices that have small carbides which are oriented in a “V” shape. The blade is dragged through the carbides and becomes sharp as the carbides grind away imperfections on the cutting edge. These tools are great for fast touch-ups to your blade once you are a few fillets in during a fish cleaning session. They will keep your edge sharp until you are finished and able to properly sharpen using a Waterstone or electric sharpener.

3. Electric Fillet Knife Blade Sharpeners

These come in all sorts of different configurations, but generally, an electric motor inside of a housing or shroud spins a sharpening stone or carbide at high speeds, and a blade is pulled through the device. Electric sharpeners are a simple way for an inexperienced user to be sure that their knife is sharp without learning and practicing a more traditional sharpening method. These work great for kitchen knives as well as your Rapala fillet knife.

4. Alternative Sharpening Devices

If you do not have a tool specific to knife sharpening handy, but you need to touch up your blade, there are some alternative methods using household items. The first example is a coffee mug. All that talk of ceramic knife sharpeners, you can see why a ceramic mug falls into this category. Flip over the coffee mug and use the bare ceramic that would normally encounter a coaster or tabletop to sharpen as if it were a whetstone. Another household sharpener that is not intended to be a sharpener is an emery board that would typically be used for nail filing. Use the board as if it were a whetstone.

Professional vs. DIY Sharpening

Hiring a professional is almost always more efficient than doing a job yourself. A professional will efficiently sharpen your blade to perfection for little cost, usually around $2 per inch of the blade.

This will give you peace of mind that you are not harming your blade and that it is correctly being sharpened. However, learning to sharpen your knives does come in handy when no professionals are nearby. When you are out on a fishing trip and you need to touch-up your Rapala fillet knife, you may not be able to call in a professional.

Manual vs. Electric Fillet Knife Sharpeners

Electric knife sharpeners are a great way to keep kitchen knives sharp enough for typical usage. They are not the best method for keeping your Rapala fillet knife sharp enough to handle multiple scaly fish after a long day of fishing. The best option for sharpening a fillet knife is always going to be a Waterstone and the skill set needed to use it properly.

electric knife sharpener

Safety Precautions When Sharpening Rapala Fillet Knives

Just as it is when filleting, safety should be the main priority when sharpening your Rapala fillet knife. You want to be sure you are not only sharpening correctly but that you are not putting yourself or others in danger when doing so.

Always wear gloves and eye protection when sharpening any sort of knives. The microscopic filings could irritate your skin or eyes, and the handling of any knife comes with elements of danger on its own. Dull knives are dangerous knives, be sure to pay extra attention to safety when sharpening your Rapala fillet knife with any of the methods discussed in this article. 

People Also Ask (FAQs)

How long will a Rapala fillet knife stay sharp?

The blades come sharpened from the factory, but like any knife, as soon as they start to be used, the blade begins to wear and will need to be touched up as use continues over time. Proper sharpening will lengthen the lifespan of your Rapala fillet knife, while improper sharpening could shorten longevity.

How do I keep my Rapala fillet knife from losing sharpness?

There are no ways to keep a knife from losing sharpness other than not using the knife. The key to maintaining a sharp knife is to keep up on sharpening using the methods discussed above. Oversharpening will shorten the lifespan of a blade, but proper sharpening will extend the working life of your Rapala fillet knife so that it provides years of service.

How is sharpening different from honing?

Sharpening is the coarse adjustment, and honing is the fine adjustment. To sharpen your knife means to develop a burr along the cutting edge while honing is to polish that sharp edge. Honing a blade brings its sharpness to heightened levels and makes it more simple and cleaner cuts. By honing your Rapala fillet knife and removing slight imperfections from the sharpening process, the blade will glide through skin and scales almost effortlessly.


While there are many methods of sharpening and honing, we hope that you will choose a few that you can perfect and utilize for sharpening your blades, not only in the field but in the kitchen as well. Practice makes perfect, so learn to use the tools we have discussed. You will benefit from your knife sharpening skills for the remainder of your life. Just make sure to keep a Rapala fillet knife around to remind you of your roots.