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What Angle To Sharpen A Fillet Knife
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What Angle To Sharpen A Fillet Knife

A common question that we receive at big game fishing tournaments, boat shows, or outdoor expos is, “What angle do I sharpen my fillet knife at?” Most people asking are those who have owned fillet knives their whole lives but are not sure if they are putting the right angle back on the blade. If you find yourself with a dull knife at the fish cleaning station next time around, continue reading to figure out the best angle to put back on your fillet knife.

We would like to walk you through what angles mean and why it is important to have the right angle on your knife. The angle of the knife refers to the bevel of the blade where the two sharpened edges meet. If you were to add up the exact angle of the two sharpened edges, that would make the actual angle of your fillet knife blade. For example, if you have a 10-degree edge on one side and a 10-degree edge on another side, then that would be a 20-degree angled knife. The sharper the angle gets, say down to 7 degrees on one side and 7 degrees on the other side for a 14-degree knife, the sharper, more razor-like the knife becomes. Regular shaving razors are typically sharpened at 7 to 12 degrees.

When you have a sharper angle on your fillet knife, that means the knife edge will wear down quicker than one with a less sharp angle, especially if you are cleaning red snapper, red fish, or any fish with skin that is harder to cut through. With a sharper angle, you won't want to be hacking through any stiff bones, cartilage, or scales because you will find that your knife dulls out very quickly. When you have a medium sharpness on your blade, you will find that the knife does not dull out as quickly, and you are able to get through a very big pile of fish before your knife needs to be resharpened. If you have a very wide sharpness, you will find that it takes a while for your knife to dull, but it won’t be sharp enough to make very precise cuts.

With all of that being said, here are the knife angles that we recommend putting back on your knives before your next fish cleaning session.

10-18 Degrees - For separating the meat from the skin or for fish preparation in the kitchen. When we make sushi, our knives are sharpened to 12 degrees. This is also fine for light applications like freshwater and saltwater trout.

18-22 Degrees - For all regular fish cleaning, boning, and for getting the skin separated from the fillet of meat. These should get through even the hardest of skin!

22+ Degrees - For any knives that are going to be used to hack at a fish, hack at bait, or that could possibly be used as a machete.

All of our SORD knives come hand-sharpened with an 18-20 degree angle, which we feel is the best angle for an all-around knife. We fully expect that you will get multiple uses out of your knife before you need to start putting an edge back on it. The longest that we have seen a knife last without putting an edge back on it is when an inshore charter captain in Destin used his knife for a whole season of 2 a days without ever sharpening it. Unfortunately, a client accidentally tossed a bucket of scraps in the water off the dock with the knife unknowingly in the bucket.

If you are looking to become better at sharpening your fillet knives, check out our knife sharpening 101 here. If you need a new knife for your tackle box, you can shop all of our world-class fillet knives here. Now that you know what angle to put on your knife, head out there on your next trip and catch a mess of fish so that you can put the new angle to work.



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