How to Fillet a Fish the Best Way Every Time

Learn how to fillet a fish like a pro

First off, I'm going to admit that I haven't had much practice filleting fish lately. I don't really have any good excuses either. Seems like summer has gotten by me, and I haven't fished as much as I wanted to. But then again, who does get to fish as much as they'd like?

I do typically get plenty of practice carving up panfish in the winter when I'm lucky enough to bring home a bucket full of bluegill and perch from a day on the ice. It's those days, when I'm wind-burnt and half-frozen that I'd probably pay someone to clean my catch. But instead, I dive in with a sharp knife and try to get through the pile of panfish as fast as possible.

My weapon of choice is an old-school four-inch wood-handle fillet knife from Rapala, and usually by the time I get to the bottom of the bucket I've got my technique mastered. I'm envious of those guys who use an electric knife to make quick work of fish with just a few strokes. The few times I've tried to go electric, I've ended up with a mess. So far I haven't lost any fingers, though that's always a threat, too.

It seems everyone has his or her own method, all equally effective. One guy I know even has a custom-made fillet knife with a double-edge tip section that he uses to zip through walleye bellies in the blink of an eye. How about you? I'm looking for reader tips on filleting fish to give me an edge if I do happen to get on the water sometime soon.