Fillet knife handles the job but needs frequent sharpening

Rapala is a recognized brand for anglers around the world. The company was founded in Finland and has been manufacturing outdoor products since the 1930s.

It was time for me to get a new medium-length fillet knife for the 2015 season. I picked up a six-inch version of Fish n’ Fillet Superflex offered by Rapala and put it to work.

This knife has a birch handle with classic style and checkering. The handle was comfortable but the checkering was too light to significantly affect grip.

The natural wood surface of the handle, however, was reliable in hand even when wet. People with extra large hands may find the handle a bit small.

The knife came with a nice leather sheath. It has clean stitching and a plastic insert to protect knife and sheath from one another. The leather had excellent appearance and knife retention but the unsealed edges absorbed moisture.

There is no clear indication of what kind of stainless steel Rapala uses in the blade, so I assume it is low-quality material. It did cover the blade with a non-stick PTFE coating similar to Teflon. The blade uses a through tang construction into the handle for strength.

The Fish n’ Fillet Superflex was ground thin. Out of the box, the edge cleanly sliced paper but could not shave hair.

The blade was flexible and sliced meat but could have been sharper for fine cuts. The edge had to be refined on a sharpener before it performed well.

The blade did not return to straight when aggressively flexed, which confirmed in my mind the use of low-grade stainless steel and/or a soft heat treatment. It was a simple matter to manually straighten the blade by flexing it along a hard surface.

The six-inch blade was sized to clean medium-sized northern pike and walleye. The overall knife felt dexterous and light, and seemed like a natural extension of my hand.

Unfortunately, the combination of unknown stainless steel and manufacturing heat treatment resulted in poor edge retention. The edge required more maintenance than I would like to see in a filleting knife.

Some Canadian online retailers sell the Fish n’ Fillet by Rapala for $25-$40, depending on blade size. This is appropriate for entry-level filleting knives used by the casual angler.

There are better filleting knives on the market but Rapala’s asking price is appropriate for the relative performance you get out of their Fish n’ Fillet models.

Kim Quintin is a Saskatoon outdoor enthusiast and knife maker. He can be reached for column suggestions at or 306-665-9687.

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