The best fishing knives and cutting tools are critical to have when fishing in Alaska. The team at Fish Alaska magazine tested the field and, all things considered, these are our picks.
Best Fishing Knives and Cutting Tools
Spyderco Itamae Bunka Bocho
Publisher Marcus Weiner used this knife for daily cutting chores and quickly found it his favorite knife in the butcher block. It prepped vegetables, removed skin and dark meat from fish fillets, cut deer into chunks for grinding, created sashimi and poke from coho salmon, chopped razor clams for various recipes, and for turned roughly 800 apples into apple chips. He estimates 25 slices per apple, meaning the knife made 20,000 cuts over a month-long period. The 7.69-inch blade is made from an Aogami Super Blue core clad between layers of SUS410 stainless steel and the octagonal handle is made from eye-catching burl G-10 scales. You should seriously consider adding some of Spyderco’s culinary knives to your kitchen. They are some of the best fishing knives in the market.
Spyderco Native Chief
We enjoyed using this knife for a variety of tasks in 2022. From bleeding and gutting salmon to butchering deer, the Chief features a 4-inch blade with a full-flat-ground edge that we found works very well as a multi-functional blade. Spyderco hit the nail on the head when they took the long-proven design of the Native and stretched it. The handle is made from G-10 scales with a stainless-steel spacer and features a back-lock mechanism. Our tester has large hands and the handle fits really well in his hand. He’s been using this knife as an everyday carry and loves the slim profile and the ability to move the pocket clip to tip-up or tip-down on either side of your body.
Spyderco Aqua Salt FRN Black/Black Blade
Spyderco is one of the go-to brands for us when looking for reliable, quality knives. This knife is no exception. The Aqua Salt is a fixed-blade, nitrogen-alloy knife that will hold an edge and not rust. The blade is constructed with nitrogen in a process that results in a blade that physically cannot rust. The Spyderco website is an excellent educational resource for anyone looking to improve their chemistry- or blade knowledge.
Kershaw 9-inch Curved Fillet
This burly blade is well suited to taking fillets (with rib bones and belly meat attached) from big fish like kings or oversized coho. We used it for that purpose, and then used it to break down bait for crab traps and that’s what prompted this award. It is beefy enough to handle cutting 2- to 4-pound frozen baitfish into chunks big enough to fit in mesh crab-bait bags, but refined enough to allow you to rip a clean fillet off of a big salmon. The curved blade features a hollow grind that allows fish to come off the blade easier, and the textured handle provides a sure grip even when your hands are slimy. The stainless-steel blade has held up nicely and is easy to sharpen.
BUBBA 12” Flex
If you like a flexible fillet knife but are never satisfied with the salmon-sized fillet knives while trying to fillet big fish like 40- to 100-pound halibut, this is the knife you’re looking for. It has the flexible blade you like, but the blade is wider and is 12” long. The blade is made of high-carbon, titanium-nitride-coated stainless steel. It has a great non-slip grip and comes in a Cordura sheath.
BUBBA 9” Stiff Fillet
For some tasks, a flexible fillet knife just isn’t the right tool. Let’s say you want to cut the head off a salmon. Or cut a salmon into steaks. The Bubba 9” Stiff Fillet is a great knife for such tasks. The blade is 2 mm thick and is made of high-carbon, titanium-nitride-coated stainless steel. It comes in a Cordura sheath.
Mustad Premium Knife Kit
We used this kit to break down multiple salmon in 2022 and it performed well. It contains 2 fillet knives, a boning knife and a sharpener, all housed in a roll-up bag. The fillet knives are 7” and 8”, while the boning knife sports a 9” blade. All 3 are made from German stainless steel, chosen to provide a combination of corrosion resistance and edge retention. The 3 blades give you the capability to fillet salmon of any size, with the 2 stiff, stout blades well suited to cutting fillets with rib bones attached, and the more flexible third knife used for removing rib bones. Each knife features a soft, textured grip that is comfortable and secure in the hand. If you’re looking for the best fishing knives, this is definitely one to consider.
Mustad Premium Double Leverage Side Cutter
These 8” cutters are made of nickel-plated 420 stainless steel, which prevents corrosion better than average stainless steel. They have golf-grip handles for comfort and cut line and leader as well as hooks. Just for grins, we cut a 4/0 Gamakatsu Octopus hook—rather easily—with these cutters. Try that with your average pair of needle-nose pliers and you’ll see why it’s a good idea to have a decent pair of side cutters on the boat.
Kershaw Taskmaster Shears 2
These heavy-duty scissors are good for all kinds of chores. We used them to process 48 cooked Dungeness crabs (96 clusters), to clean 60 razor clams, and for countless cutting tasks in the shop. In addition a sturdy pair of scissors, additional tools including a bottle opener, lid lifter, nutcracker and screwdriver are built into the unit. We really like how they easily separate into 2 pieces for cleaning.
The Slimsada features a 3.47” D2 blade, a grippy olive linen micarta scale, a pocket clip, and easy one-hand thumbhole deployment thanks to its B.O.S.S. Tech ball-bearing system. Closed length is 4.55”, while the open length is 8.03”. This is a versatile, user-friendly pocket knife.
Gerber Ceviche 7”
The Ceviche fillet knife features a micro-textured grip that is easy to hold onto when wet. The blade is made of 5Cr stainless steel, is moderately flexible, and is coated with Salt Rx to help prevent corrosion. It includes a slim, vented plastic sheath which is easy to clean and provides protection to and from the blade when not in use. The Ceviche is also available in a 9” model. This is one of the best fishing knives.
BUBBA Pro Series Cordless Electric Fillet Knife
If you clean rockfish, electric fillet knives are the way to go. This one from Bubba is an excellent one. It comes with 4 different sets of titanium-nitride-coated blades (7” and 9” E-Flex; 9” and 12” E-Stiff), 2 batteries and a charger. Bubba claims this is the most powerful electric fillet knife on the market. Editor George Krumm used this to fillet numerous rockfish this summer and said he’ll never go back to using a non-electric fillet knife for rockfish. He added that this knife not only fillets the fish, but can also remove rib bones and skin the fillets. Additionally there’s a spot for a third battery in the case, should you decide to buy another one.