BLADE Magazine

Nothing Foul Or Fishy About These Bird And Trout Knives

TOPS Knives Bird and Trout Knife, ESEE Knives CR2.5, White River Knife & Tool Exodus 3 and Case Mini Finn

Four sleek, versatile bird and trout models for your next outdoor adventure, from top: TOPS Knives Bird and Trout Knife, ESEE Knives CR2.5, White River Knife & Tool Exodus 3 and Case Mini Finn.

Know what they are, how to use them and how well they perform.

A bird and trout knife is a compact, fixed blade designed for hunters and anglers to process small game and fish, such as squirrels, rabbits, birds and trout. The knives are known for their portability and convenience, as they can easily fit into a backpack or pocket. The name is derived from the knife’s popularity among outdoor enthusiasts who require a reliable tool to assist them in their hunting or fishing activities.

When choosing a hunting or fishing knife, there are a few key factors to consider. First and foremost, the blade material is essential. To ensure optimal performance and longevity, your blade should be crafted from high-quality stainless or carbon steels. Equally important is the blade design; a thin, flexible drop- or trailing-point shape will allow for easy filleting and deboning, and precise cuts and slices. The handle should also be comfortable and ergonomic, with a good grip and balance.

The sheaths are simple affairs, usually made from leather with a belt loop. The Exodus 3 has a Kydex sheath (right) made for scout carry.

A secure and durable sheath is a must-have. Some even feature a thumb lock to prevent accidental slips. Remember these factors for a trusty tool that you will keep by your side for years to come.

Case Mini Finn

A bird always in season is the chicken. The Case Mini Finn sliced through dense breast and also onions and peppers for chicken kabobs, one of the author’s favorites.

The small knife in the Case leather hunter two-knife hunting set is the Mini Finn, sold separately. It’s a durable, reliable fixed blade for outdoors, hunting and hiking. The rugged knife features a 3.13-inch clip-point blade and polished leather handle for a secure grip. Blade steel is Tru-Sharp™ stainless, Case’s version of 420HC. The knife is ideal for small game.

EVALUATION: The blade was sharp from the get-go. Small and agile, the knife and its concave-ground blade proved perfect for the tasks it was dealt. A section about 1 inch long on the spine has subtle ridges for purchase if that’s how you like to grip a knife.

Making a feather stick was a snap with the Mini Finn.

The blade quickly sliced the only bird in season—chicken—for kabobs in the cabin. When making tent stakes the blade sliced through green witch hazel with authority. The handle is a hidden gem, paying homage to the traditional stacked-leather grip. Holding it feels like a throwback to the early 1900s Finnish style. The knife has a decent finger guard and a grip for three fingers. However, when the Mini Finn is held in a sideways or chest-lever grip, the buttcap feels a bit awkward.

A simple leather sheath completes the package. It sports a drain hole and can be worn on a thin belt or as a neck knife. The sheath is basic—nothing new under the sun—but why change a good thing? The Mini Finn is easily the best buy of the test quartet.

Case Mini Finn Specs
Blade Length: 3.13”
Blade Steel: Tru-Sharp™ Stainless
Blade @ Thickest: .062”
Blade Finish: Mirror polished
Scales: Leather
Weight: 2.5 ozs.
Overall Length: 6.5”
Sheath: Leather
Country of Origin: USA
MSRP: $82.99


Designed for small game, birds and fish, the ESEE CR2.5 excels at woodcraft, too. The 90-degree spine scrapes tinder and a ferro rod, while the sharp edge effortlessly shaves feather sticks.

The ESEE CR2.5 is a little bird-and-trout-style knife designed by Cody Rowen of Rowen Manufacturing. It features a sturdy 1095 carbon steel blade with a black-oxide-stonewashed finish and ESEE logo. It is lightweight and easy to carry. The handle is available in Micarta® or G-10, providing a comfortable and secure grip.

Evaluation: This slick little cutter is an excellent tool for fishing, small game hunting and general woodcraft. The blade is flat ground and has a sharp 90-degree spine that can be used to scrape tinder with a ferro rod. During a survival class in Alabama, it was used to carve feather sticks and scrape fine wood shavings for a fire. Additionally, it proved handy for skinning squirrels.

The CR2.5 makes butchering effortless, especially for small, delicate game like birds and trout—and squirrels.

The handle has a comfortable grip for three to four fingers. With use, it will develop a patina similar to the blade. ESEE offers the grip in orange G-10 and Micarta. A leather pouch-style sheath, which can be used as a necker due to its light weight, keeps the knife secure and safe. There’s no drain hole on this one but it has a generously sized belt loop.

Paired with a chopper, the CR2.5 will definitely get it done. It takes third place among the test bunch as the best buy for the money.

ESEE CR2.5 Specs
Designer: Cody Rowen
Blade Length: 2.5”
Blade Material: 1095 carbon steel
Rockwell Hardness: 55-57 HRC
Blade @ Thickest: .125”
Blade Finish: Black oxide stonewashed
Scales: Micarta® or G-10
Weight: 2.5 ozs.
Overall Length: 6.25”
Sheath: Leather pouch
Country of Origin: USA
MSRP: $143.50

TOPS Knives Bird and Trout Knife (BTK)

The TOPS BTK excels at delicate work like scoring salmon skin and scaling. The slight upsweep helps ensure the tip doesn’t penetrate anything it shouldn’t.

Allen Jensen, also known as the Axeman, designed the TOPS Knives Bird and Trout Knife (BTK). With a stainless steel blade, a stonewash finish and a black canvas Micarta handle, the knife is perfect for camping, kitchen chores and other outdoor activities. The handle design allows multiple grip options, making it a great skinning tool for tough hides like bear and beaver.

Evaluation: Of the test bunch, the BTK is closest to a regular-size fixed blade. The blade shape’s slight upsweep lends itself well to food preparation, especially from a standing position. The blade came extremely sharp and performed flawlessly, especially processing food. I used the BTK to section a piece of fresh salmon and as a fish scaler. The upsweep didn’t tear any of the fillet in the process. The sharp edge scored the skin quickly, aiding in rendering super-crunchy-skin salmon.

The TOPS BTK is a superb EDC knife for the woods. Due in no small part to the blade’s healthy .13-inch thickness, it easily baton cut through green witch hazel

The handle features an ergonomic design, providing a secure grip when it’s gooey. The scales don’t extend to the blade, allowing greater versatility when choking up for skinning.

The choice of black leather for the sheath was wise, as it hides stains from food and game. The sheath is heavy duty and comes with an average belt loop, but no drain hole. The BTK is the priciest of the bunch but well worth it.

TOPS Knives BTK Specs
Designer: Allen Jensen
Blade Length: 3”
Blade Steel: 440C stainless
Rockwell Hardness: Cryo-treated to 58-60 HRC
Blade @ Thickest: .13”
Blade Finish: Stonewash
Scales: Black canvas Micarta®
Weight: 3.5 ozs.
Overall Length: 6.75”
Sheath: Black leather
Country of Origin: USA
MSRP: $175

White River Knife & Tool Exodus 3

Using the Exodus 3, the author created an eight-notch try stick. He tested the knife’s ability to slice through green wood and found the narrow blade allowed easy maneuvering in small spaces.

The lightweight White River Knife & Tool Exodus 3, also known as Adventurecraft, is a small but robust survival knife. It’s the perfect size for bird and trout tasks, game dressing, food preparation and everyday carry.

Evaluation: Rather than the regular use as before, I put this one through a special gauntlet. The blade is tough. The thick spine culminates in a thin, flat grind—it’s a slicer. I wasted no time making an eight-notch try stick*. The blade’s geometry sliced through green wood like butter. I moved onto a survival fishing spear made from dry maple and the edge had no issues muscling through the seasoned wood. As a final coup de gras, I pounded the blade into an ammo canister. The blade remained unscathed and I was not surprised.

The author employed the Exodus 3 to make a spear for fish and frog gigging. The knife effectively balances between being a bird and trout knife and woods companion.

The handle is long enough for a four-finger grip yet is the narrowest of the test knives. Narrow handles can lead to fatigue by overcompensating when gripping. The scales are a “10” on the cool factor scale and provide a secure grip to back it up.

The Exodus 3 was the only test knife I could scout carry, keeping it out of the way when on the trail or in camp. Blade retention also was outstanding in the sheath and on the belt. The knife is the second best buy of the gang.

White River Exodus 3 Specs
Blade Length: 3.15”
Blade Steel: CPM S35VN stainless
Blade @ Thickest: .13”
Blade Finish: Stonewash
Scales: Canvas Micarta®
Weight: 2.3 ozs.
Overall Length: 7.2”
Sheath: Black Kydex
Country of Origin: USA
MSRP: $140

*In bushcraft, a try stick is a wooden stick carved with notches for use as a teaching aid.

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