Review: 4 New Fillet Knives for Fishing and More

knives for fishing
Four hot factory fillet knives with manufacturer’s suggested retail prices in parentheses, from left: the Buck Abyss Fillet ($65); Kershaw Folding Fillet K-Texture ($34.99); Boker Saga Fillet Knife ($159.95); and the Gerber Controller 10 inch ($67). (All images by the author unless otherwise noted.)

Every time I think of fishing, perfectly formed fillets seasoned to perfection gently frying in a pan come to mind. Of course, if you want a dinner like that you need to catch the fish and prepare them properly.

To prep your fish you need a good fillet knife. A good knife can mean the difference between getting the most from your catch or wasting the day on the water. I love a good fish dinner, so if I am going to take the time to reel them in, I want to savor the catch by preparing the fish perfectly.

Buck Abyss

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Buck’s Kryptek Pontus handle has style and utility. The appearance is somewhat reptilian and features a subtle texture. To add to the user friendliness, the contouring is well designed.

The Abyss is a fillet knife Buck brought a little style to by using a Kryptek Pontus camo handle. Normally you just get some kind of bright rubber but this handle has some style to it. Overall length is 12 inches and the blade measure 6.5 inches. Buck lists it as a 6-inch blade but I can tell you my tape measure isn’t broken.

The 420HC stainless steel blade features a double-ground tip and a distal taper. The double grind gives you an edge on the back of the tip to make puncturing and entry cuts easier. The distal taper gives the blade stiff ness toward the handle for use with large game fish. A more flexible tip area makes it useful for smaller fish. By using a distal taper, Buck can get away with having the Abyss straddle the fence between a stiff fillet knife and a flexible one.

The Kryptek scales have a slight texture but they also sport lateral contouring to aid in a secure grip. Sure, the Abyss does not have a super blade steel, but 420HC has been holding its own for years.
During testing the Abyss did fine for handling and cutting—in fact, I like the knife very much.

I would have to say my only doubts are about the sheath. Buck provides a simple pouch sheath with a plastic insert to carry the knife. Though I’m not planning any long adventures hauling it around with me, I still find the sheath lacking. Inserting and drawing the knife is a clumsy affair, as the fit is tight. I also find the material, in my opinion, not robust enough to take years of use.

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The Buck Abyss (bottom) and Gerber Controller (top) use the same tip profile but only Buck sharpens the top edge, giving it a bit more piercing power.

Kershaw Folding Fillet K-Texture

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Many little “K’s” make up Kershaw’s aptly named “K-Textured” handle. The surface works without being too aggressive.

As with many folding fillet knives, the excessively large handle of the Kershaw Folding Fillet K-Texture tends to be disproportionate to the entire design. The 6-inch blade has a slight distal taper and is 420J2 stainless steel.

Even with a distal taper the blade has a mid-range flex—not really stiff but not very flexible, either. The lockback folder’s closed length is 7.75 inches. The knife does not come with a sheath.
I like to test the blade’s edge right out of the box. One of the most difficult things to do with a knife, believe it or not, is put the first edge on the blade. To the best of my knowledge, with all the CNC machinery out there, this is an operation that is still predominantly done by hand. Out of the box, the Kershaw was razor sharp.

Even before I took it fishing, I put it through some paces in the kitchen by skinning a tomato. I was impressed with the initial edge. Holding the knife is easy thanks to the duel-textured, or “K-Textured,” handle. The rubber has many small “K’s” patterned into it for the texture while the main plastic part of the scales is slightly textured. Accompanying the texture is an ergonomic handle, which seals the package.

kershaw folding fillet knife
Kershaw’s fillet knife follows the spine bones for a perfect cut so you get the most from your catch.

Overall, I like the knife. It can be used for fishing under most any condition, but I see it as a great tool for fishing holes that require a long journey to access. The fact the knife folds gives you a fillet model in a smaller, safer and more convenient carry package.

Boker Saga Fillet Knife

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Boker’s thin scalpel-like blade has a medium amount of flex, which makes it a bit of a stiff knife for when you might need some resistance while cutting.

Years ago I worked with an importer of industrial knives for fish-processing plants and meatpacking. I have to say the Boker Saga Fillet Knife designed by Jesper Voxnaes is in that class. Granted, it is listed as a kitchen knife but it does a great job both in the kitchen and for filleting.

At 12.25 inches overall with a flexible 7.75-inch blade of stonewashed 440C stainless steel, the knife holds the middle ground in size. The black G-10 handle gives it a tuxedo look. The handle is trim and comfortable. Weight: 3.7 ounces. The knife includes a Kydex sheath with a belt adapter for secure carry.

new boker fillet knives
As the author suspected, the large lanyard holes of the Boker Saga collected fish blood. At the same time, the fact they are large made them easy to clean. He stated the G-10 handle got a little slick when covered in blood.

My only complaint is about the two extra large lanyard holes in the handle. Processing food can be a messy business. When done cutting fish, you want to clean up quickly and thoroughly. Blood and pieces of flesh find their way into the lanyard holes way too easily.

Other than the holes, the knife was great. It is an impressive all-around fillet knife that will process your daily catch.

boker fillet knives
You can see the different approaches to the handles of the Boker Saga (top) and the Buck Abyss (bottom). The Saga’s is slim and has a subtle contour, whereas the Abyss is larger with more defined contouring.

Gerber Controller

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The Controller’s handle has contouring that locks your grip into place (top) in a number of positions. Holding onto the knife is not a worry even with wet hands. A substantial thumb ramp (above) helps keep your grip in place when wet, too.

I am not in favor of loading a knife down with too many features. In the case of the Controller 10-inch fillet knife, Gerber has provided more than a knife but did not get carried away. The Controller is a full system fillet model. At 15.5 inches overall, it has a 10-inch blade of 9Cr18MoV stainless steel.

There are three knives in the series: the 10-inch and also 6- and 7-inch blades. I wish I had gotten the 6-inch model to test as well. All have a plastic molded sheath that provides secure carry and is puncture resistant. Along the sheath’s body are multiple drainage points. On the sheath’s edge is a diamond rod sharpener for quick blade touch ups.

Here is where the devil is in the details. The sharpener is not fixed and can be rotated by hand so you won’t wear down one side of the diamond rod. The sheath impresses me. It comes with a nylon belt dangler and a clip molded in the back for belt carry. To finish it off they built in a natural thumb push-off that matches up with the handle. The knife clips into the sheath as well as having a fabric-fastener retaining loop.

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The Gerber Controller sheath features a diamond rod sharpener, plenty of drainage points and two carrying systems.
sheaths for fillet knives
The Controller has two retaining systems to keep the knife in the sheath. One is the fabric-fastening nylon strap. The second is the locking notch at the front of the handle that corresponds to a clip. Hence, instead of tension only there is a positive locking point, too.

If the sheath isn’t enough, Gerber hit it on the head with the knife. The handle consists of two materials: a hard plastic at the core and soft, textured rubber inlays at all the tactile points. The blade has a full flat grind with medium flexibility. The Controller sports the same style tip as the Buck Abyss except the edge is not ground back. I am very impressed with the whole system.

Four Fantastic Fillet Knives

There are many fillet knives out there, and these four turned out to be a solid batch to review. It’s not often I get a group of four winners. You cannot go wrong with any of these if you match them to the right catch.

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