Fishing Knives – By Dick Eussen
Everyone has their own idea what a fishing knife should be, and it ranges from proper fillet, boning, hunting and butcher knives.
There is no shortage of choice and over the decades I have formed my own idea what a fishing knife is all about, though for most people the choice is a simple filleting knife, that are designed overseas for soft-scaled fish like trout, but they are unsuitable for most hard-scaled tropical species, especially barramundi.
Filleting a barra with one is not that easy and I have seen the blades break on cheap filleting knives when too much sideways pressure was applied to it.
One of the best all-round fishing knives I have is the Buck Guide, a knife that has a strong thick blade that is similar to a butcher’s filleting blade and just as strong.
I also use Swibo butcher knives for a lot of my fish, a boner for removing fillets and a carving blade for removing the skin of big fish. Yes my friends I eat fish and the only time I release a saltwater barra is when I have my bag limit, or fish needed at the time, or its undersize, and while that may not win me the hearts of ‘purists’, catching a feed of fish is what I am all about.
The difference between a boning and a fillet blade is that a thick boning blade is designed to cut about bone while the thinner flexible fillet blade does the same thing with fish bones by following the rib cage frame.
Not that a boning blade won’t do that, it does it very well and if you have seen a commercial barramundi fisherman filleting barra the chances are that he is using a Swibo boning knife because the fillet blade is not strong enough for this type of work.
A good knifeperson will remove both fillets in less than a minute with little flesh wasted or remaining on the frame.
However, amateur anglers have the luxury of bag limits and time when filleting and take extra care, while in many cases, including my own, anglers only take fish they need for their own use, as
...I gave up catering for neighbours long ago, especially when one reckoned it did not cost me anything to catch fish.
He failed to see the 4WD, trailer, tinny and outboard, tackle boxes, rod and reels and other fishing gear that cost me thousands of dollars…
There are also multi-purpose fishing knives that include bait and oyster knives that find a home in my tackle box.
Fishing knife kits are available from most tackle shops and generally include all you need in either three or five knife sets, with the best coming from the Victorinox and Swibo stables that will cost $250, though you can buy cheap Chinese sets for under $50, but as in all things you get what you pay for.
On top of this you require a good sharpening system, which may be just a simple carborundum stone or an expensive electric sharpener, though you have wide choice of other systems that don’t cost a lot that range from diamond steels and stones, and simple swipe systems that do a good job of keeping an edge on a thin blade once it is sharp.
I still prefer to initially sharpen my blades on a stone and keep it keen with a steel rod, but ‘steeling’ is only designed to rid the blade edge of burs and to straighten it out after hard use, not to sharpen it, something that a lot of people are unaware of, including some butchers who spend more time stropping a knife than using it.
How to sharpen a blade properly is easy these days and there some great demonstrations on YouTube how to do it properly, especially the Japanese sites, who are masters of the blade.
The choice of which fishing knife is best for you is not that clear cut because few countries have the range of tough hard-scaled large tropical fishes that we have, and most fishing knives are aimed at the northern hemisphere market, which are okay for small fishes and our salmons.
The care of fishing knives is paramount as even stainless-steel blades will rust when exposed to blood and saltwater and especially so when stored in a pouch when still damp until the next outing.
Clean and sharpen your knives and use a good vegetable oil on the blade for long term storage, you can use gun oil, which adheres to metal, but remember to clean the blade before using it or you will experience really ‘oily’ barra…
Blades must be protected, but this is easily done as most come with a pouch, but if you have several knives I suggest you get a roll pouch that will hold all your knives; they are available from rural hardware stores and knife shops and well worth the money.
Now a word of warning, do not carry your knife on your belt during transit to the fishing ground, because its illegal and should you get in a ramp rage with someone and have you fishing knife on your belt, expect a call from the police if someone fills out a complaint.
Recently a 75-year-old Chinchilla man was fined $100 for carrying a pocketknife in a belt pouch when he was pulled over for a breathalyser test, but it proved negative.
Not to be outdone, the over-the-top cop charged him for ‘going armed in public causing fear,’ and it was backed by a magistrate…
Thus, only put your belt pouch knife on when you are actually fishing and take it off when you are back at the ramp.
A good knife can save your life as Mareeba fisherman, Marco Tiraboschi discovered when a big croc lunged out of the water and dragged him into the shallows.
Marco stuck his survival knife into the reptile, and it let him go, he escaped and after spending a few days in hospital he was back on his feet, alive thanks to carrying a sturdy knife…