When it comes to choosing the best knife for dressing out a fish, you can’t argue with the pros. Charter and partyboat mates have to clean and fillet hundreds, if not thousands, of fish each year—and do it fast—so they can’t afford to have an inadequate blade for the job. To do their job, many of these fish-cleaning experts rely on the Dexter-Russell Model 1377.
The 1377 (listed as a “boning knife”) is the workhorse of fishing-cleaning knives, able to handle filleting, skin-removal and light steaking duties on a variety of species. Its 7” blade is long and flexible enough to follow the curve of a fish’s backbone and ribs while filleting, yet is stiff enough to cut through small bones and tough skin. Most importantly, the blade is made of high-carbon steel, which is easier to bring an edge back to than stainless steel.
It’s important to note that a carbon-steel knife like the 1377 needs proper care. Sharpen the blade with a few strokes on a whetstone before each use. After using, rinse thoroughly with fresh water and coat the metal with light oil then wrap the knife in a dry cloth. Lastly, do not let the knife languish in a damp drawer or tackle box.
The 1377 sells for $23.60, and can be ordered through the Dexter Russell website.