There is perhaps no better fillet knife than Mercer Culinary’s M23860 Millennia, an 8-inch narrow fillet knife that stands out through its practical design and versatility. This reliable knife features textured finger points for added slip resistance and a protective finger guard for good measure. With a blade made from high-quality Japanese steel, most users find this particular knife to be very easy to maintain and sharpen. Also worth mentioning is the fact that it features an ergonomic handle that involves a combination of Santoprene and polypropylene that give the knife an added notch of comfort and durability.
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What To Look For In A Fillet Knife
Mainly used for removing skin and bones from meat, fillet knives are somewhat different from traditional knives by virtue of their construction and handling. For starters, most fillet knives have straight blades whereas boning knives can have curved blades for practical reasons. While other knives aren’t required to be all that flexible, fillet knives should be extremely flexible without compromising on blade strength and durability. Furthermore, fillet knives are usually thinner than your average knives, mostly because they are required to deliver a more precise cut along with increased maneuverability.
Choosing A Fillet Knife
Several factors must be considered when choosing a fillet knife, mainly the flexibility, weight, sturdiness, and overall handling of the knife. Regardless of the task at hand, you must be able to easily grip and maneuver the knife around the bones and skin without accidentally cutting into either. You can only do that if the knife is bendy and flexible, but also if the blade is sharp and sturdy enough to handle the job.
- Flexibility – You definitely want a fillet knife to be flexible above all else, even if only to a reasonable degree. The flex of a fillet knife is extremely important as it allows you to maneuver the knife around the bones without carving into the bone at any point. Most of the work in that regard is done with the blade’s wider half, which has to bend ever so slightly during the cutting/slicing motion. Ideally, you want a fillet knife that can bend around 15 to 20 percent close to the handle with a reasonable amount of bending toward the tip as well.
- Blade Size – It isn’t just the knife’s flexibility you need to consider in a fillet knife but also the size. When it comes to fillet knives, size does indeed matter for practical reasons, which is why most fillet knives measure between 6 to 9 inches depending on the model. What you want to do is to first consider what type of filleting jobs you plan to undertake and whether a standard 6 to 7-inch blade would be enough or whether you need something slightly longer.
- Construction – Another thing to consider is the knife’s construction, mainly the blade. It is common for high-end fillet knives to be made using high-carbon stainless steel of various origin. That said, some manufacturers do prefer non-stainless steel because of how much sharper the blades can be, but this usually takes a toll on the knives in regards to their overall durability. A safe bet would be to go for a stainless steel version even if you aren’t 100% certain just for the strength alone.
- Handle – The handle of a knife determines how easy it is to actually use the knife and how comfortable the knife is when used over extended periods of time. At the same time, a decent fillet knife should possess a decent grip, which is something you really shouldn’t compromise on. It isn’t just a matter of comfort, mind you, but knives with a poor grip are far more likely to slip and thus to cause injuries. In this respect, you want a knife that sits nicely in the palm of your hand, a knife that doesn’t slip whenever you use it more intensely.
Boning Knives VS Fillet Knives
Although similar in their general purpose, boning knives and fillet knives tend to differ quite a lot when it comes to their design. While fillet knives are narrow, flexible, and equipped with arched but pointy tips, boning knives usually possess straight blades to facilitate the deboning process. Needless to say, fillet knives are generally far more maneuverable than boning knives, which is understandable considering their design.
We talked about the importance of a reliable and comfortable handle with a good grip, but what materials should one look for when determining the value and usefulness of such a knife? For the most part, you might want to settle for a wooden handle, mainly Rosewood, Olive, or Birchwood. While it usually comes down to personal preference, you need to understand that different handle materials give the handles different properties.
- Wood Handles – Most people own knives with wood handles so getting a fillet knife with a similar construction isn’t that strange or peculiar. In general, wood is quite attractive and has a somewhat warm feel to it, especially if it’s a hardwood. Bear in mind that wooden handles are commonly sealed and riveted, although you can expect these handles to crack over time if exposed to too much humidity.
- Plastic Handles – It is rather common for traditional knives to be equipped with plastic handles and fillet knives are no different. With plastic, you get a lightweight alternative to wood, with the added benefit of increased resistance to humidity. The plastic also makes the whole knife somewhat lighter in weight, although this also makes the knife feel cheaper overall.
- Steel Handles – Steel handles aren’t as widespread as wood or plastic handles but they are certainly much more durable. By most standards, steel handles offer a very secure grip and provide the user with added leverage. Overall, the texture also offers a more secure and reliable handling, which might come in handy when performing laborious tasks. Keep in mind that these handles also make the knives a lot heavier in weight.
- Polypropylene Handles – As a material, polypropylene is very hard and impervious to water. At the same time, it is very durable and handles rather well when compared to traditional wood handles. Perhaps the greatest thing about these handles is their impressive durability, which is owed to the fact that most polypropylene handles are riveted together for a sturdy and long-lasting grip.