Great Lakes Angler Blog

Proper Sharpening is Key to Safe, Effective Filleting By Stan Watson

Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Share |

The fisherman’s fillet knife is a truly specialized tool. Good fillet knives have strong, comfortable handles and thin, flexible blades. These thin blades tend to roll over more easily and dull more quickly than the thicker blades on chopping knives, so fillet knives require special treatment to keep them up to the task of quickly, efficiently and safely filleting a freshly caught fish. This special handling includes proper sharpening, preferably with precise diamond sharpening stones.

One of the keys to proper sharpening is ensuring that the knife blade meets the stone at a consistently correct angle. A guided sharpening system like the DMT Diamond Machining Technology Aligner Pro Kit helps to assure this. DMT’s Kit utilizes a seven-angle adjustable clamp to hold the blade at a pre-determined slant so there is no fluctuation in the angle at which the blade meets the stone during the sharpening process. It takes the guesswork out of sharpening and ensures the bevel on your fillet knife will return to the manufacturer’s specifications so you can continue to properly prepare your catch for grilling, frying or sautéing.

Guided sharpening guarantees success. It helps you avoid over-sharpening and wasting blade life, which improves performance and protects your investment. If you’re like most serious anglers, you take pride in using the best equipment. That means you likely have an $85 to $150 fillet knife in your tackle box—and a knife costing that much demands thorough, regular sharpening.

If you choose to use the guided sharpening system in the DMT Aligner Pro Kit, set the guide rods to the lowest possible angle and place the clamp in the center of the spine of the blade. You should always sharpen both sides of the blade using the same number of strokes. DMT’s Diamond Sharpening Stones do not need lubrication, but you can use water if you wish (do not use oil). One more piece of advice: Take your time. Diamond sharpening technology does make sharpening quicker (approximately 10 times faster than conventional abrasives), but you still need to be careful whenever you are working with knives.As long as you are sharpening regularly, you will only need two grits: fine and extra fine (diamond whetstones in both of these grits are included in DMT's Aligner Pro Kit). You should only use a coarse grit (also included in the Kit) if you’re attempting to salvage a damaged blade. Use light strokes with the fine grits, otherwise you run the risk of removing too much material and shortening your blade’s life.

There’s nothing like sitting down to enjoy a meal including fresh fish, especially if the fish just came off your hook. Next time you’re prepping the daily catch, take a few minutes to sharpen your fillet knife. You’ll be glad you did.

Stan Watson is the technical director for Diamond Machining Technology, manufacturer of a full line of Made in the USA diamond sharpening tools for use in woodworking, camping, fishing, hunting, outdoor and winter sports, culinary arts, gardening, police/security and industrial applications. He is the holder of 11 engineering patents in the sharpening industry. He can be reached at

GlAngler Subscription

Recent Posts


Dollahon Bass Pro Shops Four-Person Dome Tent with Screen Porch Mack's Lure Absolute Outdoor, Inc. Side Thruster Personal Flotation Device Speakers Home Port Marine Marketing Ditch DuraSafe Electronics Lock Keep Kool Foul weather gear Ranger Aluminum Deep V Series Shoes Dave Mull Blog Cabela's iPad Up Stream Hydration Back Pack ONIX LineSnubber MUSHING Lake Ontario Glorvigen Ultracoat Ranger VS1780 Swim Whizz Chicago barrier Blue Collar Outdoors ABT X-2 Countdown Onyx Fishouflage Ditty bag Swim bait Beckson Marine Stowaway Bag Plates and Kits Catfish Berkley Pharmaceuticals MWC Marine General Power ChartSelect Custom Jigs & Spins Grand Rapids Ultimate Outdoors Show Hamlin Boga Tracker Marine SeaEra QC John E. Phillips Davis Instruments Olcott, NY Conservation Line Accon Marine Magnum Flow-Troll Walleyes treestand injury Brown trout ATV High school bass fishing Baitcast Fishing Pole BBQ Lighter South Haven, Michigan Oshkosh Mazurek Launch ramp Whistler Spoon Ryan Kleckner Alaska GPS Speedometer Records Strike King Muskie Lure AmVets Ice Fishing Wisconsin On board Personal Flotation Devices Lake Superior Dave Genz Reef Runner ABT clubs fitness Grunden's Hevi-Beads LakeMaster Western States Version Bass Lund Silver Horde Lake Assault Barry Brown Marine boat rental Ethanol Boat US Northwest Indiana Steelheaders Acme Smartfind S20 Personal AIS Beacon St. Croix Rods Lake trout Hunting Headgear Oculus Sport Shows TRAC Lead ODNR Evinrude Serious Shine Mag Light Beckson Footwear Evolve Kill switch Steve Wood Catch & Cook Muscle Squared 65 Team Aqua-Vu Ranger Boats Boats Humminbird Mercury Marine Costa Del Mar New Lures Grady-White Bheestie Bag Costa VMC Fishing USO Rippin Lips Sun protection Sunstream Boat Lifts Northland PulseTech spreader light Ryan Wilson Gunnison, CO Rugged Shark Streams Iaconelli DuraSafe Smart Guide Publications Wind Power Minnesota Matt Straw Mark Zona Knife sharpening Lake Erie BASSMASTER STRATTEC Greater Niagara Fishing & Outdoor Expo Frabill LOTSA Ranger Dunkirk, NY HELLA EZ Dock Sheldon's Yamaha Bob Schmidt Ravenswood Media Aluminum Deep V Series Army Corp of Engineers Oakley Sunglasses Chatterbait New York WileyX Brad's Andrew Dordek Soo Locks Quantum Lund Boats Aqua-Vu MATE USA Traxstech Dogs Skamania Mania Kurt Mazurek Lake Michigan 360 DSC Knives NMEA News/Social Clam Bug bite relief Marine Speakers Rain gear mudsnail ice fishing, Bro Show, Traditions Media EVOLVE FISHING CO Airmar Mosquito repellent Frigibar Aqualuma CMP Global Bad Elf Interlux Legend Extreme AKOYA Downriggers JVD Synergy Outdoors Nautical Delorme Rods 580P lenses Alaskan Sharpeners Louie Stout LCWCC Lock Hobie Shoremaster Tyee InvisaSnap Rain suit Boat maintenance Ultimate Flannel Shirts Swanson-Russell IGFA Swedish FireKnife Brian "Bro" Brosdahl Camera mount Micro-Mobile Pro Viewing Case Fiberglass tiller Michigan City, Indiana Side Imaging La Mar hardbaits eZSplice Brandon Newby OHIO Macho Minnow iPhone University of Buffalo Husky Jerk South Haven Spreads Full Throttle River Fishing Line Recycle Bin Fish America Foundation iPilot Link YUMphibian Fishing Clubs ShowSpan Tides Black Earth Creek Jonathon VanDam Video Tackle Bag Weather Buoy Milennia MIL-iDock One-Handle-Does-It-All System Wild River series Gene Larew Owners tournament Mr. Twister New Zealand Forage Minnow Multi-species Gary Giudice iPilot Volvo Penta Batteries Church Tackle Coleman cooler Bro Brosdahl Okuma WFN weather Traditions USCG blue marlin Audio Masters Walleye Circuit Games Legend Gold Monel Metal redfish Shipping Invasive species Bait head Contaminants splice JBL Gull Lake Marine Kayaks Z-Man Mark Chmura Lip-Stix Fiberglass boat Normark Jerky Honda Tom Neustrom Angler 175T Size limits Deck Plate Beckson Marine Cliff Pace EZ BoatPort Vick Practical Sailor Mary Snyder Slide Moor Insurance USCGA Boating Jack Links Green Bay spoon WeatherStation Insect repellent Martin-Flory Gear Asian carp Green Bay, Wisconsin Brian Brosdahl Bass fishing Scholarship MULL BLOG Venice, Louisiana Michigan DNR Raritan B.A.S.S. Moisture Muncher Chaco bimini top Salmon Unlimited of Illinois Great Lakes Troller GPS for Lightning Connector tackle storage Innovative Outdoors Autotether Wildlife Forever Blue Heron Communications Jeff Gustafson BoatUS Wake Fishing Rough Weather Topwater Bibs Indiana DNR Boat lifts Holland Whale Port of Indiana Future Fisherman Foundation BASSMASTER CLASSIC toilet Earth Day Bass Pro Shops Chronglobal News Trade Shows Aqua Vu Triton Boats Bristol Bay Salmon Izaak Walton League PRADCO Marine Lighting Boat names Gill NA Jeff Wenzel Tommy Skarlis great lakes Clay Dyer CLASSIC Faria U.S.S.A. Turning Point Props Coleman KVD Speedbag Wormfile FLW Bass lure KVD SOG Coast Guard Plano Synergy Gary Dollahon Princecraft Angler Tip-Up Water Buddies Dave Mull Sphaera Telescoping JIggler Long Rod Glacier Glove Walleye tournament Plano Chargers Endura Rippin' Lips Soul5 Tackle Labs Tournament Grade Circle Hooks YUM Dinger binoculars Seakeeper gyro Tim Popfinger SeaLife Cameras Titan Chain The Conference & Event Center Niagara Falls CUSTOM JIGS 'N' SPINS National Guard 1675 Pro Guide Spencer Yachts Mystery Tackle Box Black Velvet Michigan Safe boating Skarlis Mustad Radial Smart Guide to Freshwater Fishing Rig'N Tails Global Spectrum Conservation Marathon Tournament Lighting Plano Tackle Boxes Technology Scott Martin Snow-Shoe Tip-Up Jeff's Tackle Shop Electronics Kevin Van Dam Dan Egan Sportsman's rights NAIFC Championship Reese Fuel Ascend Pro Polish Soft Jigwobbler Fish Hawk XD4 Corey Schmidt Cannon F-Series Storm Gear Torpedo Divers Boating safety Gravity Contest The Harry Lure Apps Homeport Marine Marketing Marine Radio Salmon Buff Patrick Hurst Optima Scott Glorvigen Shurhold dock lines Andrew Semprevivo Bass Pro Shops Gift Card Beckson Marine Deck Plate Kevin VanDam ASA Ned Rig EZ Splice Fasteners Extended Warranty Boat Covers Rescue LineGrabber Crankbait Net Big Bear Products Marine NewsWire PLB jigs Todd Sokolow RedHead McMurdo Stabenow Rushton Gregory marlin Bait Rigs TRAC Ecological Lake of the Woods Brite Wash Bass Pro Deep Sea Diver Slender Spoon Dollohan tree stand injury Costa Sunglasses Shelter Bait Holder Kindle book Rubrail Bug repellent Bethel University Youth Accessories Lowrance FRIDAY FUNNIES YUM Storage Tight Lines Jewelry St. Croix Whale Pumps Rapala Goby Flat Slider 75 Bristol Bay Dogwood Canyon Trail Runs Tools Yamaha ATV Lures Ice Features Niagara Falls cruzin Balog BOLT Padlock Rovermax LR 100 Traditions Media Uncle Norm's Marcum Thermacell RAT FINKEE Beckson Marine Stowaway Bag Plate Pop-Up LED Bowlights Matt Serbenski Promise Keeper spinning rod Alabama Rig PFDs Lakemaster Mike Seymour Mack's Lures Navigation Odd'ball Fin Spin Fort Wayne, Indiana Manistee Sunglasses exotic invader Trout Unlimited Tournaments Aquatic AV Safety Radio Wounded Warriors Betsy Prosepec Electronics Larson Electronics sunglass Minn Kota Marsh Madness Orca Fin System Extreme Baitcast Reel Free Fishing Weekend Walleye Kayak Multitools Air show Wedding Ring inReach KVD Speedbag BoatUS Angler Shock Wave Hobie Pro Angler USSA Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Lake Huron Lights exotic species