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


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