[dropcap]L[/dropcap]ike many of today’s sport fishers, I’m pretty much committed to catch-and-release fishing. However, occasionally a trout, snook, cobia, striper or channel cat makes for a great main course. To maximize the meat of any fish taken for the table, a good knife is paramount. Too, gutting and filleting and chilling ASAP are directly related to taste.
There are more knives out there to choose from than fly patterns
I was tired of leaving too much meat on the bone because of my cheap, rusty filleting knife. I went cold turkey on a knife quest. First, I tackled online, then mall shops and finally by phone to an angling friend who had been the head chef at the Fort Lauderdale, Florida Marriott Harbor Beach Resort & Spa. On her watch, the Marriott was well known for its gourmet servings. If anybody knew how to bone and fillet it would be her.
She is certain of her field cutlery needs
Chef Hanna Moreno said: “For outdoor folks (fishing and hunting) a knife has to be user friendly in the service of filleting and boning. When it comes to filleting fish a knife’s blade length has to be relative to the size of the fish; blade flex – with a lot that capability close to the handle, and safety which translates to the handle being a rubberized as opposed to wood, which tends to slip when wet. The other handle consideration is a hilt guard. Other than bad slicing technique, the worst culinary accidents with a knife are the hand slipping from the handle onto the blade. A hilt guard or step-down prevents that.”
Blade length guideline
Moreno says it would be difficult to fillet a 3-foot long tuna with a 6-inch blade or a trout with a 12-inch blade. The optimum blade length, for me, has been 6-inches. While you can’t tryout filleting something at Macy’s, a big box outdoor store or even at your friendly fly shop, you can measure blade flex, feel in-hand, know sharpness and look at the overall construction of any knife at any store.
Here’s a couple of knives equal to the task of boning and filleting fish and game that may be of interest
1. Shun DM0743 Classic Gokujo knife has a 6-inch 3 layered stainless steel blade with a D-shaped Pakkawood handle. This knife, although sold as a boning and fileting knife, does everything in the kitchen including chop, dice, pare and peel. Around $110.
• The downside is that it’s a big piece of equipment to carry around, and its sheath is only kitchen drawer storage quality so you’d have to buy a sheath for it.
2. Bubba Blade Flex Fillet Knife has a 9-inch stainless steel blade with a textured no slip grip that has thumb and finger pad and is excellent at filleting. It’s sharp, sturdy and comfortable in-hand. It comes with a sturdy sheath. Around $65.
• The downside is that it’s a big piece of equipment to carry around. And the Teflon coating will chip off, and when it is covered with the Velcro sheath, the blade is prone to rust.