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Mention the words “best fishing knife” to most anyone and their mind tends to automatically envision a fillet knife with a long, slim, flexible, stainless steel blade. However, to an avid outdoorsman, a fishing knife encompasses many different designs depending on the purpose for which it was intended. For instance, fish species such as Trout are often too small to be filleted and thus, the Trout fisherman needs a small knife that is well suited to opening the stomach cavity and removing the head. Whereas, the saltwater fisherman often needs a folding fishing knife to cut his bait with and a fixed-blade knife to fillet his catch of the day with. However, regardless of the environment the knife is to be used in, some important criteria to look for in any fishing knife are the design of the blade or blades and the type of steel from which they, the liners, and the locking mechanism are constructed and that the handle material be impervious to the absorption of moisture. Therefore, for the purpose of this article, we have chosen what we feel are the top five folding fishing knives on the market today based upon the above listed criteria.
Buck Knives was started by a young Kansas blacksmith’s apprentice named Hoyt Buck who was looking for a better way to temper steel so it would hold an edge longer and his unique approach produced the first Buck Knife in 1902. To begin with, Hoyt made each knife by hand; using worn-out file blades as raw material and his handy work was greatly appreciated during World War II. After the war, Hoyt and his son Al moved to San Diego and set up shop as H.H. Buck & Son in 1947.
Thus, the Buck Knives Silver Creek Series Folding Fillet Knife is a result of Buck’s long history of producing high quality knives with practical designs. Featuring a closed length of 7 1/2” with a 6” Trailing Point blade made from titanium coated 420J2 high carbon stainless steel housed in an ergonomic, modern, handle design, the Buck Silver Creek Folding Fillet Knife is capable of handling most any task a fisherman may have for it. Plus, with a rubberized, anti-slip, grip and a stainless steel safety guard combined with a Lock Back locking mechanisms, this folder has all the benefits of fixed blade fillet knives but, its compact size when folded makes it far more convenient to carry on your fishing adventures.
W.R. Case & Sons Cutlery Company is an American manufacturer of premium, hand-crafted knives that are often passed down from generation to generation. Based in Bradford, Pennsylvania, Case’s offerings cover a wide range of product categories, from traditional folding pocket knives and fixed blade sporting knives to limited production commemoratives and collectables.
Therefore, although the Case Cutlery fish knife may appear at first glance to be identical to the above mentioned Queen Cutlery design, it dose differ significantly and thus, we would be remiss if we failed to mention it. Best described as a working knife rather than a gentleman’s knife, the Case Cutlery Fishing Knife has been a favorite of avid American fishermen since its introduction. Like the Queen City Fish Knife, the Case Cutlery Fishing Knife features a closed length of 4 1/4” with a 3 3/8” California Clip Point blade and a 3 3/8” fish scaler blade with a hook removal groove in the end made from Tru-Sharp steel (Case’s proprietary, high carbon, stainless, surgical steel) with a Rockwell Hardness of 54 to 57 enclosed in a classic Texas Toothpick handle design. In addition to the traditional blade and handle designs as well as the traditional slip-joint locking mechanism, this knife also features your choice of classic, yellow Delrin (aka Polyoxymethylene or P.O.M.) or Watermelon jigged bone handle scales with nickel silver bolsters and an inlaid whet stone specifically designed for sharpening fish hooks prior to use. Consequently, due to the use of stainless steel for the blades as opposed to high carbon tool steel, the Case Fishing Knife requires less care than its Queen Cutlery cousin and thus, it continues to be a favorite among Americans and has served numerous generations of hard core fishermen.
The Browning Arms Company was originally established in Ogden, Utah in 1880 by the firearms genius John Moses Browning with the aid of his younger brother Matthew. Since then, the company has maintained its focus on producing innovative products with very high quality standards and thus today, the name Browning represents the pinnacle of quality against which all others are measured.
Thus, it seems appropriate to include Browning Dirty Bird & Trout Knife in our list of the top five folding fishing knives. Featuring a closed length of 5” with a 3 1/2” Trailing Point blade made from 440A high carbon, stainless, steel with a Rockwell Hardness of 56 to 58 enclosed in modern, highly ergonomic, handle design, this incredibly versatile knife is an excellent choice for fishermen. In fact, the unique blade shapes provides superb balance and ease of handling that enables precise cuts in tight places. Plus, your choice of black G-10 or aluminum Mossy Oak Duck Blind camo handle scales with stainless steel bolsters provides an attractive grip and a pocket clip keep the knife handy.
Columbia River Knife & Tool (CRKT) was founded by Rod Bremer in Tualatin, Oregon in 1994 as a manufacturer of knives, tools, and accessories.Today, CRKT offers a broad line of purpose-driven sport, work, and professional, knives and tools. In fact, according to CRKT “Our purpose is to provide useful improvements, and entirely new product concepts, that embrace our historic core company values of quality, innovation, and value”. Thus, CRKT has employed some of the most innovative custom knife makers and designers in the industry to create their knife, tool, and accessory products so that the hottest custom designs are made available to the consumer.
In fact, the CRKT 3085 Clark Fork Fillet Knife was designed by Alaskan Hunting and Fishing Guide Russ Krommer as an ideal fishing, hunting, and camp knife. Featuring a closed length of 6 1/2” with a 5” Trailing Point blade made from 5Cr13MoV, high carbon, stainless steel with a Rockwell Hardness of 55 to 57 enclosed in a modern, ergonomic, handle design and a classic Walker Style Liner Lock locking mechanism, the CRKT Surf & Turf folding knife definitely deserves a place on our list of the top five folding fishing knives. Plus, the no frills Polyoxymethylene (P.O.M) handle scales combined with 2Cr13MoV stainless steel liners create a knife that is extremely tough and highly corrosion resistant for years of continued use.
Queen Cutlery Queen City Fish Knife
Founded in 1922, Queen Cutlery both has been and remains one of the oldest and most trustworthy knife companies in America. Producing mostly traditional folding patterns and fixed blade knives under their own name as well as the Schatt & Morgan brand name, they still use some of the old Schatt & Morgan equipment, tooling, and processes and are respected for their high quality, vintage style, pocket knives and hunting knives.
Consequently, it seems fitting to make the Queen City Fish Knife from Queen Cutlery first on our list. Featuring a closed length of 5” with a 4” California Clip Point blade and a 3 7/8” fish scaler blade with a hook removal groove in the end made from 1095 high carbon tool steel enclosed in a classic Texas Toothpick handle design, the Queen City Fish Knife could be accurately described as a gentleman’s folding Trout Knife and is an excellent companion for those of you who appreciate elegant, traditional, pocket knife designs and materials. Complimenting the traditional blade and handle designs, as well as the traditional slip-joint locking mechanism, this knife also features Whisky Cataline jigged bone handle scales with nickel silver bolsters and shield inlay for a truly elegant touch. However, it should be noted that due to the fact the blades are made from non-stainless, high carbon, tool steel, extra care should be taken to clean and oil the knife after use.
Final Thoughts – Which One Should You Get?!
So, while literally any folding knife can be pressed into service as a fishing knife, some designs are quite simply far better suited for the job than others. Thus, after literally examining several hundred knife designs, we have chosen what we feel are the top five folding fishing knives on the market today based upon their manufacturer’s reputation for producing quality products as well as both the individual design of each knife and the materials from which it was constructed.