In-Fisherman has long promoted the practice of Selective Harvest, which encompasses the practice of keeping some fish selectively as a matter of conscience and conservation, and because fish are nutritious, delicious, and—when harvested wisely—they’re an infinitely renewable resource.

Of course, transforming our catches into fine table-fare requires the assistance of fillet knives. The good news is, there are countless options to choose from. And the bad news? Well, there are countless options—and separating the good, the bad, and the ugly can at times feel more challenging than slicing the Y-bones out of a pike, blindfolded. The trouble is, the wrong knife can waste meat, make filleting a nightmare, and increase the risk of slicing yourself while dicing your catch.

Y-Bone Removal

Y-Bone Removal Techniques

Pike are among the best tasting fish that swim. Learn to properly remove their Y-Bones for better fillets.

For example, I’ll never forget trying to clean a batch of eating-sized pike at a remote cabin. Having neglected to pack my personal blade, I was forced to use an old kitchen knife that’s better days had come and gone decades prior to my trip. The blade wouldn’t hold an edge, and was curved and damaged from years of abuse. Let’s just say I sawed up the day’s catch as best I could, but the experience yielded a lesson not soon forgotten.

When choosing a knife, look for a quality stainless steel blade—sized appropriately to the fish you’ll be cleaning. Flex should also fit your cleaning needs. A bit of flex (say, an inch or so each way) is nice on short, thin blades used for smaller fish and precision cuts. Larger knives with thicker blades may have less flex, but the ability to bend is still important.

To speed you search for the right blade, we’ve gathered a collection of fine cutlery, including traditional and electric models, sure to ease the job of transitioning fish from lake to plate. To be sure, there are countless worthy blades crafted by companies too numerous to mention, from Leech Lake Knives to Case, Dexter-Russell, and more. We offer this selection to highlight the spectrum of options and price points at our disposal.

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