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TALKIN WITH DOKKEN: Tips for buying a fillet knife

Q. What advice do you have to purchase a fillet knife? I had a Mr. Twister Piranha (saltwater) electric fillet knife that I used several years for everything from filleting fish to carving turkeys and pork shoulders. It has now expired, and I am in the market for a new one.

A. Fillet knife preferences are similar to filleting techniques; every angler has a favorite brand of knife — or method for filleting fish. There’s no correct answer, in other words.

From the sounds of it, the Mr. Twister Piranha knife you describe served you pretty well, and if you were happy with it, I’d probably just recommend buying a new knife of the same model. It retails for about $45 so it shouldn’t break the bank.

I also have a Mr. Twister electric knife, the next model down, which retails for about $30, and I’ve generally been happy with it. I did burn out the motor on a similar knife a few years ago, but it had cut through a lot of fish before giving up the ghost, so I really couldn’t complain.

I came across an even cheaper alternative a few years back at Bay Store Camp on Oak Island of Lake of the Woods, where camp owner Frank Walsh stocks his fish cleaning house with the kitchen-style electric knives such as those made by Hamilton Beach. They don’t seem to have quite the power of the electric knives marketed for filleting, but if you’re keeping perch or “eater-size” walleyes in the 15- to 18-inch range, they actually do a pretty good job for about a fourth of the price.

One thing’s for sure: I can’t imagine cleaning perch anymore without an electric knife. Perch are known for their thick skins and weak backbones, and unless you’re using a manual knife that’s razor sharp, they’re a bugger to clean without an electric.

If I was to buy a new electric filleting knife, I’d lean toward one of the rechargeable cordless models that can be used in more remote areas where electricity might not be available. Expect to pay a lot more money, though. Rapala has a cordless electric filleting knife that retails for about $95, while Berkley’s entry into the cordless knife market has a similar price tag. A cheaper alternative is Berkley’s electric knife that includes a 12-volt vehicle plug adapter and battery clips, which retails for about $50.

If you have a question for Talkin’ with Dokken, call (701) 780-1148 or send an email to

Brad Dokken

Brad Dokken is a reporter and editor of the Herald's Sunday Northland Outdoors pages. Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and joined the Herald staff in 1989. He worked as a copy editor in the features and news departments before becoming outdoors editor in 1998. He also writes a blog called Compass Points. A Roseau, Minn., native, Dokken is a graduate of Bemidji State University. 

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