A good sharp knife that maintains its edge is an essential tool of the trade when it comes to filleting and processing your catch. The good news is that a quality knife is within reach of practically any budget, and here are some key things to loo out for when you make your next purchase.
By Gareth Hughes
Sharper knives are safer to use and essential for clean cuts and tidy fillets.
A good knife is a must for breaking down big fish like tuna.

Features of a good filleting knife

Blade flexibility: The blade needs to have sufficient flexibility to make cutting around the bones and contours of the fish easy but enough rigidity to give you proper control over the blade. The width, thickness and composition of the blade all combine to give the knife specific characteristics. When you get the opportunity, try different brands and styles and see what works for you.
Blade material: Stainless steel or high-carbon steel are the better choices of blade material. High-carbon steel can be easier to sharpen but is more prone to rust spotting than one manufactured from top-quality stainless steel. Stainless steel knives that are well cared for will give years of service.
Blade length: The blade length needs to be suitable for the size of fish you generally fillet. 22-26cm blades are a good choice for our inshore species and will handle the majority of our day-to-day catches nicely. A longer knife may be useful to have on hand for larger specimens, especially kingfish.
Handle comfort: The handle should provide a comfortable grip, especially if you’ve had a good day on the water and are filleting multiple fish in one session. Handles made of materials like rubber or textured plastics offer better grip and control, even when wet, and this is really important when it comes to safely processing your catch. Wooden handles look great but textured plastic is without doubt a better longterm and more practical option. Moulded plastic handles don’t work loose and are more hygienic, making it less likely for bacteria to build up.
Sharpness: It’s well-documented that sharper knives are safer to use and essential for clean cuts and tidy fillets. Running down the backbone of your fish is easier with a sharp knife and allows a smooth slicing motion to prevent waste and maximise the recovery percentage. A guard is essential so that wet or slimy fingers don’t slide off the handle and a well-moulded plastic handle has a significant protrusion at the base of the handle to prevent accidents.
Ease of maintenance: Consider how easy it is to clean and maintain the knife. Some blades might require special care to prevent corrosion, while others may be fine in a dishwasher. Plastic-handled knives can generally be washed in a dishwasher but ensure they are secured and can’t be smashed around with other items which could damage the blade. A quick wash in hot soapy water is generally all a good quality knife needs – then simply dry and store in its scabbard.
Storage and sheath: A scabbard is a good investment as it helps to maintain the blade’s edge and prevents accidents when not in use. You don’t want to be digging into the tackle bag and just happen to jam those pudgy fingers on a sharp blade!
If you have multiple fish to fillet, start with the smaller ones as they will dull the blade less.
Having the right knife for the job to utilise all the fish is essential.
A window squeegee is ideal for keeping the filleting board free of blood and guts.
You can never have enough knives!

Handy hints

If you have a few fish to fillet, start with the smaller ones and work upwards in length. Smaller fish have lighter bones and don’t tend to dull the blade as quickly. Do the big ones first and you’ll need to stop sooner and clean up to sharpen the knife, or struggle through the rest of the catch with a dulled edge.
When making a cut, keep the fish steady. Pressing firmly down on the head of the fish will do that provided the surface is clear of slime and goo.
When it comes to filleting, another cunning trick is to sharpen up an old fork and bend the last five to 10 millimetres of the tines over with pliers or a vice. You now have a tiny rake that can be hooked into the tail, enabling a good hold and allowing you to start skinning right near the tail.
Keep the workspace clean. Gut, blood and faecal material are not good friends for those precious fillets and for the best use-by dates, keep the filleting area clean – a couple of small microfibre cloths will do the trick, and use them constantly during the filleting process.
Victory Knives are manufactured from German stainless steel, which is renowned for its durability and edge retention and can withstand rigorous use.
Along with a few other things that shouldn’t be lent (even to your best mate), knives are on the list with chainsaws, boats and spouses – they will never be returned in pristine condition!

Victory Knives – simply the best

Victory Knives have a proud heritage dating back to 1927 when Edward Goddard, a master cutler from Sheffield, England, emigrated and began designing and manufacturing knives in New Zealand. The company was commissioned to supply combat knives for the U.S. Army in World War II and has also produced knives for the New Zealand military. Since then, they’ve continued to provide the best in craftsmanship and innovation. In 2013, Victory produced possibly the world’s first 3D-printed titanium knife for Emirates Team New Zealand.
Probably the best endorsement a knife brand can have is use in key industries such as fishing and meat processing where it’s an essential tool of trade. Victory Knives have grown to be synonymous with high quality and robustness by industry professionals who demand the best from their tools. Walk into any meat or fish processing company in New Zealand or Australia and you’ll see that Victory Knives are the industry professional’s choice. The same applies to commercial divers worldwide – most request the Victory Knives diver’s knife.
Victory Knives are manufactured from German stainless steel, which is renowned for its durability and edge retention and can withstand rigorous use. The combination of traditional craftsmanship and modern manufacturing techniques create knives that meet the highest quality standards at an affordable price-point and most importantly are still made in New Zealand today.
A good quality knife is a great and very affordable investment that will pay dividends over decades if you give it the care it deserves.