You can acquire many tools easily these days, either in retail stores or at a hardware store. Still, nothing beats items that are passed down from one generation to the other. Just as jewelry is an heirloom, other families have treasures they pass on to their children as well.
For fishing enthusiasts who have spent thousands of moments on lakes and seas, endowing their fishing tools to their descendants is akin to passing on the memories and traditions.
This article will talk about fishing pocket knives. This tool is practical to enthusiasts like you. Still, because of its rarity, it can also be an incredible heritage you can leave to your loved ones.
Characteristics of a Vintage Folding Fish Knife
A folding fishing knife has specific characteristics that make it such. It is commonly mistaken for a toothpick knife, so let’s look at the two knives’ commonalities and differences.
A pocket knife and a toothpick have the same handles, leading many to assume that a toothpick is also a fish knife. However, what makes fish pocket knives different is the design that explicitly helps fishers.
For instance, pocket fish knives have blades that help in scaling a fish, removing a hook, and filleting. Most of the time, the handle also has a sharpening stone for the hook or small blades, which a toothpick does not have.
These are the different characteristics you will also see in an old fish knife + pocket knife. Every part of the knife is utilized to aid a fisherman, from bait preparation to dinner preparation, it can even open a beer to wash the sumptuous seafood meal down!
Despite pocket fish knives slowly disappearing because of more modern and efficient fish filleting tools, there are still a few manufacturers who keep the tradition alive. Case, Schrade, and Rough Rider are three among the last manufacturers left standing. Their pocket knives still have the signature design of what is already considered vintage. Below are three knife options from these brands.
Uncle Henry Fish Pocket Knives
Uncle Henry is Schrade’s series that features the manufacturer's brilliant idea to bring back knives with vintage designs. The series features hunting, pocket, and fish knives.
Blade: The Uncle Henry 1UH fish knife follows the traditional design of having two blades. One blade is intended for slicing with a sharp and clip-point edge. The second blade fulfills three functions: a scaling blade using the serrated edge, a bottle opener, and a hook remover using the v-shaped point of the blade. One cannot question the durability of the 3.31-inch blades as they are made of stainless steel.
Handle: Equally durable is the Staglon-made handle, which keeps the blades safe. Together, the blades and the handle create a 7.63-inch fish knife.
Case is another brand that does not forget to pay homage to old designs despite creating state-of-the-art, innovative, and modern knives. The Case fishing pocket knife is living proof of this.
Blade: The 4.25-inch pocket knife, which you can comfortably slip into your tool bag or your pocket, keeps two mighty stainless blades that have three functions. The first 3.4-inch clip-point blade is what you’ll use for fish filleting and other ingredient slicing needs. If you’re wondering how to scale a fish, know that you do not need an extra knife as the second blade will provide you with a scaling blade, a bottle opener, and a hook remover too!
Handle: The practical nature of this knife does not stop with the blades. Attached on the 4.25-inch handle is a small sharpening stone you can maximize for hook and short blade sharpening.
Skip the complicated steps of knife restoration and buy a brand new knife with a vintage fish knife design instead.
Blade: The Rough Rider knife is as functional as the previous pocket knives featured. It also has two 440 stainless steel blades, with the first blade being used for slicing and filleting. You can use the second knife in four ways: fish scaling, measuring with the included ruler, removing hooks, and opening bottles. The ruler in the spine of the Rough Rider knife is original to this design. You can use it for measuring your catch.
Handle: The handle has a classy color scheme of black and gold. You can slip this knife into your pocket. You can also use it on a lanyard connected to the built-in ring at the end of the handle.
Antique Fish Knives
We know just what you are thinking! Vintage knives will not be vintage unless they are from the past and were created ages ago. You can still find vintage fish pocket knives in garage sales, antique shops, and several online stores. Just keep in mind the different ways to tell the age of an antique to ensure you get authentic finds. Here’s our best picks.
Imperial Fishing Knife
There are several antique fish knives from the Imperial brand manufactured in the USA. One fish pocket knife from this brand has the classic two blades: one for slicing and one for scaling. This one we are featuring only has one blade.
Blade: This one-bladed pocket knife can assist an angler efficiently. The blade has a smooth edge for slicing and filleting. The spine, on the other hand, is designed to be for scaling. It has a serrated design, which you can use after closing the blade. This blade also has a bottle opener at the opposite end of the blade tip.
Handle: The 4.75-inch handle is silver and white and has a logo of a fish on the side.
1920’s Bakelite Western States
Be ready to do your DIY knife restoration or get an antique restoration team’s number as the Bakelite Western State’s vintage knife dates back to the 1920’s.
Blade: Although the two blades you see above are already discolored, the edges are still functional. Like the fish pocket knives being manufactured today, the first blade has a smooth edge for fish filleting. The second blade is used for scaling, removing hooks, and opening bottles.
Handle: The handle is made of red bakelite, a sign that this knife is antique. Know the ways to identify genuine bakelite when buying knives using the material, and ensure that you are getting your money’s worth. Having a bakelite handle certifies its durability and resistance to heat. For knifemakers, bakelite is a material that is easily molded.
Utica Lucky Strike
Utica is a US brand that started manufacturing knives in 1910. Imagine finding antique knives from the brand more than a hundred years old! Today, the brand still offers state-of-the-art fishing knives, but the colonial designs like on this product we are featuring are rare.
Blade: The Utica Lucky Strike fishing knife only has one 3 ¾-inch carbon steel blade. The blade can be utilized as a filleting knife and the serrated spine can be used as a scaling blade. To get the best look, restoring it to its original stainless color is a must.
Handle: The handle functions as more than just the covering for the blade. The blade’s hind end is used as a hook remover. The black and silver color of the handle makes it look genuinely classic.
Restoring a Vintage Find
If you are restoring a knife yourself, here are the essential steps you need to know: rust removal, edge and handle restoration, and blade sharpening.
- To remove the rust, mix citric powder and water and immerse the blade in this mixture.
- Clean the blade off with steel wool. Steel wool will be your main restoration tool as it is also what you will use to clean and restore the look of the handle.
- Once the handle is cleaned, you can apply mineral oil to add color and protect it, especially if it is made of wood.
- Finally, sharpen the edges until they are ready to use.
These are the finest and best vintage fish knives you’ll find. There are brand new ones with vintage designs, and there are also knives manufactured ages ago. To effectively pick the best knife, know exactly what you want and pick between the two choices. Nonetheless, it doesn't hurt to have both types as they are useful, especially if you are a fishing enthusiast. Keep these knives long enough, and they can become valuable possessions you can pass onto the next generations.