A fillet knife is (obviously) a knife used for filleting (cutting a fish in a way that removes its bones). A sharpener for fillet knives isn't just a plain sharpening stone. You need a special tool for the job. With that said, what's the best fillet knife sharpener out there?
A Guide To Shopping For Fillet Knife Sharpeners
When attempting to make an educated decision in getting the best fillet knives sharpeners for you, you need to become aware of what filleting entails. To wit:
- Sharpness: This guide will teach you when your fillet knife is sharp enough and if your fillet knife sharpening stone has the capabilities to make it as sharp as possible. Keeping the edge of the fillet knife is important in order to facilitate dependable filleting and fish cleaning.
- Sharpening Angle: Not only do you need a sharp knife to allow you to clean fish in a safe and dependable manner. You should also have a sharpener with the right fillet knife sharpening angle so that the edge is just the right thinness without resulting in knife breakage.
- Convenience and User-Friendliness: Your fillet knife sharpening tool should also be convenient and fast, because sometimes filleting the fish bones happens as soon as the fish is caught. It should be user-friendly enough to allow self-explanatory sharpening.
- Type: There aren't just two types of sharpeners, which are manual (stone and handheld) and electric. There are also subcategories for electric sharpeners, which are basic ones you can use at your kitchen to professional ones you can find at the fish market, culinary school, or your typical fishing boat. More on this below.
- Quickness: Your choice for the best fillet knife sharpener also depends on how much time you have available for maintaining your knife. You need a different knife sharpener. Some want to keep sharpening time to a minimum to take care of their haul, thus them using the electric knife sharpener. Others want to take their time.
- Control: You also want a good fillet knife sharpener that's capable of keeping your pro-boning filleting flexible (which is needed in order to get as much bone and as little fish meat out as possible) without it being too thin or without breaking it altogether.
- Package Deal Combo: Many a fillet knife and sharpener combo deal includes a manual type of sharpener since it's cheaper to do so versus putting in an expensive electric sharpener as part of the package. There are also packages that include a fillet knife with sharpener in the sheath.
Types Of Sharpeners
Here are the three types of fillet knife sharpeners.
1. Electric Sharpeners:
These sharpeners use a 2-3 step process of honing, sharpening, and creating the edge of a dull blade or even a raw hunk of metal. They first use a coarse grit in order to sharpen the dullest of blades. After that, there's a midway grit then a fine grit to hone the already sharpened blades.
It spins its sharpening stones as the knife is drawn through its slots. It sharpens at the desired sharpness and you can sharpen it further a little if you're not satisfied with the initial pass. Most importantly, an electric fillet knife sharpener takes out the tediousness of sharpening knives while at the same time producing precise results (especially with knives as thin as fillet knives).
2. Handheld Sharpeners:
A carbide handheld fillet knife sharpener requires you to manually sharpen the knife with a handheld tool. It simplifies the sharpening processes, you won't have to deal with batteries or electric sockets, and you mostly depend on your dexterity and muscle memory to perfect the skill of knife sharpening.
A handheld knife sharpener has the advantage when it comes to portability. Many fishermen take them along on their fishing boat because of their ease of operation and small size. A handheld fillet knife sharpener has fewer slots to work with, though. Depending on its design, you can either draw the knife through the slot to sharpen it or draw the tool onto the knife as it's placed spine-down on the countertop.
3. Sharpening Stones:
This is the simplest type of sharpening tool. Your grandfather or his grandfather (your great-great-grandfather) probably used a slower method of sharpening fillet knives, which is to rub them on a stone fillet knife sharpener until the edge is formed or reformed. He never sharpened them fast but they're always sharp because he religiously sharpened them all by hand. Some of these stones have diamond abrasives mixed in for the best fillet knife sharpening action.
Usually, these gritty stones are made of silicon carbide (Crystolon stones), aluminum oxide (India stones), or Novaculite (Arkansas stones). Novaculite or Arkansas stones are stones you can find in nature and they vary from fine to coarse in terms of the type of grit. Meanwhile, Crystolon or silicone carbide stones and India or aluminum oxide stones are manmade ones. Cyrstolon stones are better for initial coarse sharpening and India stones are better for fine sharpening.
Reviews On The Top 5 Fillet Knife Sharpeners
1. Smith's CCKS 2-Step Knife Sharpener:
With that said, standalone manual smith's fillet knife sharpener actually benefits from being cheap yet cost-effective. It rates higher than the Ofcose knife sharpener on this list because even though Ofcose buyers rated it highly, more users got to try out Smith's sharpener, so there's a wider pool of people vouching for it even though it has a lower score than Ofcose. It justifies its score with its present sharpening angles and crossed ceramic rods.
Also, it's capable of sharpening more than just fillet knives and it shares Ofcose's no-slip rubber feet feature as well to make it safer. Actually, even though it's a multipurpose sharpener that costs less than a Happy Meal, it specifically caters to fillet knives as well. In the end, it's a must-have for hobbyists.
2. Ofcose 2-Stage Knife Sharpener:
This is a highly rated manual knife sharpener. You read that right. It's not just a sharpener of knives in general but the set can also sharpen fillet knives specifically. Unlike the more complex electrical sharpeners, the ofcose fillet knife sharpener is a two-stage sharpener.
It claims to produce professional results, it's easy to use from what I've experienced, it comes in multiple colors, and it features a crossed carbide blade to allow for quick edge grinding, resulting in a razor sharp edge every time. It's a great sharpener for what it is and what it figuratively and literally brings to the table.
It also has a no-slip rubber base on both sides for easier grinding and sharpening. It also has a hole for a hanging chain or lanyard. It even has enough control to do quick touchups on already sharp knives, making it useful for the kitchen and the outdoors. In terms of downsides, it's mostly of the quality control variety.
3. Gelindo 3 Stage Knife Sharpener:
Here's another multipurpose knife sharpener that includes 3-stage sharpening instead of just 2 stages or steps, making it more thorough with its sharpening (but it also means it's more expensive). It's good for sharpening fillet knives, which is the important thing.
Furthermore, it can also sharpen pocket knives, carving knives, combat knives, and kitchen knives. Its three stages are like the different kinds of sanding stone. You have the ceramic sharpener, the coarse sharpener, and the fine sharpener. It's also made of ABS plastic for extra durability.
Aside from its 3-stage process, it prevents accidental cuts due to how the rubber base is fitted with the sharpener as well. So how come the gelindo fillet knife sharpener is only third ranked on this list? It's because it's a flawed product. Even though it has a great build quality, there are complaints about its effectiveness with ceramic knives.
4. Presto 08810 Professional Electric Knife Sharpener:
As I was writing this article, I honestly believed there'd be more electric sharpeners in the top 5 sharpeners for review. I was mistaken. Many fillet knife sharpener reviews from customers dragged the scores of these electric sharpeners down due to breakdowns and quality control issues of a machine.
It's like comparing a standard toothbrush to an electric toothbrush. The electric toothbrush is going to get more complaints because of breakdowns compared to the simpler toothbrush. In any case, this presto fillet knife sharpener is the cream of the crop of its type of knife sharpener.
It features 3-stage sharpening just like Gelindo that's easy to use and it's really fast when sharpening these knives precisely. It also has interchangeable blade guides for optimum sharpening angles every time. However, you need to troubleshoot it from time to time and there are complaints about some defective units not being able to sharpen knives at all.
5. Accu Sharp 010 Filet Knife Sharpener:
The fifth of these top 5 knife sharpeners made it to this list because it's made in the USA (which has higher standards of quality control) and its sharpening blade is made of diamond-honed tungsten. Your fingers are also protected by its full-length guard.
What's more, its blades are also reversible. It's particularly excellent for those who have no idea how to sharpen knives. It will do all the work for you, like an electric (pencil) sharpener of sorts. It's even dishwasher safe (which you can't say the same for any and all electric knife sharpeners)! However, the accu sharp fillet knife sharpener isn't perfect.
Even with its improved quality control (making it a must-have in every anglers' tackle box), it still has issues concerning going overboard with putting the razor edge on your fillet knives. It's not the best knife sharpener on this list because it's known to ruin knives.
Electric versus Manual Fillet Knife Sharpeners
It's now possible to sharpen your fillet knife in just a few minutes though. Or in 90 seconds flat (which is exactly a minute and a half) with the assistance of electric fillet knife sharpeners. You can leave the knives alone, sharpening them 90 seconds every time while you have your fishing line cast and your other hand is drinking a cold beer.
If you're good at sharpening your fillet knives just right, you won't need an automatic sharpener to do your sharpening for you. You can go with manual fillet knife sharpeners or stone fillet knife sharpeners instead. Not all people have the right muscle memory to create the edges they need, though. However, some electric or automatic knife sharpeners don't even pass the grade for sharpened-by-hand knives. To wit:
- Point of Comparison: A good auto sharpener should be able to make you a better freehand sharpener by providing you with a good point of comparison.
- A Sharpening Template: The electric sharpener's results should serve as an example for you to follow when doing freehand sharpening, so in case the electric one breaks down, you can sharpen your fillet knife just right.
- Automatic Is Easier: It's easier to do things automatically the same way it's easier to boil a cup of water with a microwave versus waiting for a pot to boil on the stove. However, each has their own pros and cons.
- You Can Go Both Ways: In fact, some fishermen and culinary experts do both! They sharpen the knives first with an electric sharpener then perfect the edge with freehand sharpening through a sharpening stone.
- Experts versus Novices: For someone who's used to sharpening blades by hand, an auto sharpener can serve as an assistant before they can finish the job. For a novice who doesn't know anything about sharpening blades, err on the side of caution by letting an electric sharpener to do it.
In conclusion, which is better? In their own ways, an electric and manual fillet knife sharpener can give you a minimum amount of fuss. The electric sharpener makes sharpening faster and the stone sharpener doesn't really break down as easily and it doesn't run out of battery juice (or need batteries at all).
The people of the past kept a slower pace and there's less urgency when sharpening their fillet knives. Or they'll make do with a dull knife until it absolutely requires filleting, since he probably uses sharpening stone fillet knife sharpeners and loads of free time to sharpen the knife by hand. The simplicity of the past remains relevant in present times even with the existence and availability of electric knife sharpeners.
At any rate, the best fillet knife sharpener in modern times isn't an electric one but a manual one, and it's the Smith's CCKS Knife Sharpener. The other sharpeners might do the job faster, but in terms of longevity, it's a marathon not a sprint with the 2-stage sharpening system of the portable sharpener. It also helps that it's dirt cheap. Once again, economical utility triumphs over expensive convenience and luxury.