Anyone who thinks fishing is all about sitting on the bank of a quiet stream watching a bobber float on the water has never actually been fishing. A pastime that requires a huge box to carry the essential gear is a truly complex undertaking. The knives of the trade are also varied — when we speak of fishing knives, we’re not talking about one type that’s just right. Fishing requires several, each suited to a particular task.
You may need to cut rope, and quickly, if you fish from a boat. Floods used to rise gradually when nature ran the show, but downstream from Corps of Engineers dams you may not have time to untie from that handy snag before it pulls the bow under. A good belt knife like the RAT Cutlery Case RC-3 Bushcraft solves unexpected problems quickly and also does the nasty work like cutting bait. Don’t use the same knife to clean the fish, unless you’d eat the bait yourself.
Things are always going wrong with rods and reels and outboard motors, and if you don’t have tools for the repair, you just go home. Long nose pliers are also needed if you catch and release fish — barbed hooks don’t just let go. While multi-tools such as the Leatherman Surge offer a variety of tool bits handy for working on tackle and tweaking reels, the jaws are a little short for retrieving hooks set deep in a fish’s maw. For more precise fish-handling consider the Rapala Pro Set of long-nosed pliers and folding filet knife.
For cleaning both large and small fish, get a good filet knife. The most economical use of the fish often turns out to be a neatly cut filet. A knife that’s too stiff, too small, or too short wastes a lot of fish. For the larger catch you’ll need a full sized flexible blade like our choice for the best fillet knife — Queen Cutlery’s Fishing and Filet Knife.