Fishing is a relaxing and fulfilling activity, a great way to unwind and take a break from your busy, monotonous life. The euphoric feeling every time a fish tugs your bait is priceless. But that excitement can turn into frustration all because of a substandard folding fishing knife, the blade you will use to clean your catch.
The struggle is real when you are trying so hard to wield a low-quality fishing pocket knife. And why would you bring a mediocre knife in the first place? Using a dull second-class knife will not only waste your precious catch, but it may also harm or cut you accidentally.
In this article, we've searched for the best folding fishing knives, and we will explain what makes them stand out. In addition, we will explain to you why it is important to maintain the cleanliness and sharpness of a knife.
Buck Knives 220 Silver Creek is a folding fillet knife perfect for preparing both saltwater and freshwater fish. Thanks to its grippy handle made from glass-reinforced polypropylene, it makes filleting like slicing butter.
Furthermore, this Buck knife's handle consists of thermoplastic rubber for extra grip. Another feature contributing to its ergonomic design is the stainless steel guard and large lanyard loop. Both protect you from accidental slips even if your hand is wet.
As for the Buck Knives 220 Silver Creek's blade, it is made from heat-treated and titanium nitride-coated 420J2 stainless steel that can endure corrosion, stress, impact, and dullness.
Downside: Using it on small-sized fish is not advisable since its knife blade is quite long (6 ½″).
The fact that the Mini-Barrage 585 knife is currently out of stock on one of the most popular online marketplaces on Earth means it's doing a good job. It has one-of-a-kind craftsmanship and functionality, which is a signature of Benchmade, an American-based custom pocket knife manufacturer.
However, it is still worth explaining what made this pocketknife sell out. Its blade is made from high-grade 154CM stainless steel with a satin finish and plain drop-point style. Meanwhile, Benchmade Mini-Barrage 585's handle is made up of Valox, a durable, nonflammable plastic material with a low moisture absorption rate.
Furthermore, Benchmade applied their proprietary locking mechanism called AXIS-assist, which allows you to open the pocketknife one-handed and prevents it from opening or closing accidentally.
You will also enjoy their LifeSharp service and warranty. The said service includes sharpening and repair to restore the knife to its optimal working condition. Best of all, you can avail of it for free.
Downside: It is expensive because of its awesome features.
Gerber Controller is a six-inch folding knife specially designed for tackling saltwater fish. Thus, you can expect a corrosion-resistant blade perfect for outdoors, fishing, and everyday carry.
Gerber Controller is a compact and slim fishing tool with a flexible yet robust 9Cr stainless steel. The face of the blade has a relief etching, which makes it nonstick.
The American brand Gerber made sure to apply their signature knife safety features on its handles, such as the Hydrotread Grip™ and Guidefins™. The former refers to the raised sections that help repel moisture. Meanwhile, the latter is a thumb placement near the bolster that gives you enough control to handle a slippery catch.
Downside: One buyer complaint is that this saltwater fish pocketknife didn't come sharp out of the box. So better prepare a sharpener before you buy it.
If you are an adventurous angler, the BUBBA Tapered Flex should always be in your tackle box. It is the new and improved version of the seven-inch pocket fillet knife with the same name.
This BUBBA blade has a serrated edge made from 8Cr13MoV stainless steel and coated with titanium nitride. Its long, flexible blade can handle either a medium- or a large-sized fish.
Meanwhile, the handle of the BUBBA Tapered Flex folding knife has a nonslip grip with a lockback mechanism. Other ergonomic design features of this BUBBA blade are a lanyard hole, trigger grip, and safety guards.
Downside: You may find it uncomfortable to hold a handle with deep indentations and grooves, as shown in the image above.
A 20-dollar Rapala?! Yup, Finland's leading knife manufacturer offers a low-cost yet high-quality fish knife pocket knife.
The five-inch Rapala Folding Fish Pro Fillet knife is made from tapered Japanese stainless steel. It is a handy fishing tool that only takes up around six inches of space in your pocket.
Its handle is a rubberized polymer with a lockback mechanism and lanyard hole. Take note that you need to insert a lanyard rope to use the latter.
Downside: It doesn't stay sharp, so you need to tune it up regularly.
RAT stands for Randall's Adventure and Training, an Alabama-based research team that focuses on expedition guiding, survival training, and outdoor gear. Knifemaker Ontario collaborated with RAT to create a series of military-grade knives, one of which is the Ontario RAT II folder.
Ontario RAT II folder's blade is made from AUS-8 stainless steel with a drop-point shape, full flat grind, and plain edge. It is resistant to corrosion, and sharpening it is a breeze.
Surprisingly, the RAT II pocketknife's handle has a comfortable and steady grip for such a small knife. It is made from textured nylon with a thumb stud and a liner locking mechanism.
Downside: Watch out for its pocket clip because it may come loose from frequent use.
Bendable yet durable—it is the apt description for the Kershaw folding filleting knife. It easily glides between the skin and meat of the fish without any resistance.
This folding pocketknife has a slim body with a blade made from 420J stainless steel, which has high corrosion resistance and durability. In addition, its razor-sharp edge is easy to restore through sharpening.
But one of the unique features of the Kershaw pocket filleting knife is its handle. Its body is filled with synthetic nylon and strengthened by glass threads. And if you look closely, its rubberized skin has “K” shapes that serve as traction for additional grip.
Downside: It may be prone to rust, so take good care of it.
Regardless of how frequently you use your folder, you must make time to clean, sharpen, and lubricate it. Dull and dirty pocket knives will not only make your job harder, but they can also pose a danger since you have to put an effort when using a blunt blade, which may result in accidental injuries.
Thus, you should read and follow the manufacturer's care instructions to clean your knife the right way. Ensure to set a cleaning schedule that you can stick with.
However, if the foldable knife you've bought doesn't include a care instruction, the safest way to clean it is using hand soap, a toothbrush, and warm water. First, brush the folder's blade, handle, and scale thoroughly with soapy water. Then, rinse it well from the inside out because its interiors are going to be soapy or wet as well.
If grime and other sticky stuff have built up, immerse the knife in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes before scrubbing it with soapy water. But check first the handle's material before doing this. Avoid this method for handles made of natural materials like wood.
After leaving it to dry for 15 to 30 minutes, proceed to sharpen and lubricate it. Use a whetstone for pricey knives and a knife sharpener for cheaper ones. Lastly, ensure to oil the slides, locking surfaces, and pivot.
We hope that this article has helped you to choose a knife that is suitable for you. We also hope you have learned that maintaining a fish pocket knife is simple as one-two-three: cleaning, sharpening, and lubricating.
Do these to prolong your folding fishing knife's service life and avoid spending too much money on buying a new one. And who knows, it may one day turn into a vintage folding fish knife that you could pass as an heirloom to future generations—all because you've taken proper and good care of it.