Anglers need several fishing knives to do all the jobs required by their avocation. We have to cut bait, sever fishing line, splice dock lines, filet fish, and free lines from our props.

fishing knife
Anglers need several fishing knives for different tasks.

Unfortunately, there is not one knife that can do all of these jobs and do them well. Using the wrong knife for the job at hand will make the task much more difficult and could result in a trip to the emergency room to stitch up a part of your body.

Filet and bait knives probably get the most use by fishermen. They are not interchangeable. Filet knives are very thin so they can bend along the backbone of the fish and leave as little meat as possible on the rack. Bait knives have a stronger, thicker body so they can cut up whole fish either fresh or frozen. On occasion, you may want to filet a bait fish to make a strip bait that will move easily in the current. In that case, a filet knife will become a bait knife.

Filet knives and bait knives come in different sizes. A six-inch filet knife may be perfect for cleaning croakers and spot, but not so good when cleaning flounder and completely useless on bluefin tuna. A small bait knife will work just fine during an inshore trip in the Bay, but you are going to need something bigger and stronger when going chunking for tuna.

A long time ago someone told me a dull knife will cut you quicker than a sharp one. I thought that was just another one of Murphy’s Laws, but I have found out, like all of Murphy’s Laws, it is true.

If a knife is dull, you will push it harder to make the cut and the chances are good the knife will slip and cut you. A knife with a good, sharp edge will glide through the material with ease and require very little pressure from the user. This is why you must always keep your knives sharp.

I use a Little Chief electric sharpener at home and on the boat. 

By Eric Burnley