I’ll make a bold statement: for the money, there is no better knife than the Rapala fillet knife. Specifically, the Fish ‘n’ Fillet series, sometimes called the Finlander. I use them for fillering everything from bluegill to catfish, to carving roasts and de-boning deer. They’re my desert island knife.
Every Wal-Mart and self-respecting sporting goods store from California to Maine carries them. They just might be the most prolific fillet knife in the world, and for good reason. They blades have the perfect amount of flex and a pronounced point that makes them down right surgical. Like most fillet knives, the blades are stainless steel, which is usually a bear to sharpen. Rapalas, however, are an exception—I’m able to stroke a dangerous edge with a diamond stone and a finishing stone. The handles are just the right size, and the balance is superb.
They’re available in 4″, 6″, 7 1/2″, and 9″ blade. I use the 4″ for filleting panfish and anything that requires finesse knife work. The 7 1/2″ is ideal for catfish, carving roasts and boning out deer.
Their only knock is a weak tang. Fillet knives get wet, and moisture finds its way into the space between the handle and the tang and will slowly rust the metal. Half way through a mess of bluegill, while flexing the blade to remove a fillet from the skin, your concentration will by broken by a “snap” and suddenly you will be holding a handle without a blade. This has happened to me twice with knives I used countless times a year for over a decade, so I wouldn’t exactly call it a huge design flaw.
The smallest model runs about 14 bucks, the largest about $30. Do yourself a favor and buy a couple.