Video: Tips for Cleaning Walleyes Using an Electric Fillet Knife

If you have a pile of fish to clean, then it pays to use an electric fillet knife.

Video: Tips for Cleaning Walleyes Using an Electric Fillet Knife

Shortly after graduating from college, I spent five consecutive summers as a fishing guide in northern Minnesota and southern Ontario. While my fellow guides and I promoted total catch and release with species such as largemouth and smallmouth bass, as well as muskies, we practiced selective harvest with most other species. (Click here for an article I wrote about selective harvest, a term used to describe which fish are best to keep for the table without harming a fishery.)

When guiding two or three anglers in my boat for walleyes and perch on Lake of the Woods, it was common to end a morning or afternoon session with a bunch of fish ready for cleaning. These anglers wanted to eat fish for shore lunch, and they also wanted to bring home their limit. Because a guide’s life is busy (making shore lunch, cleaning the boat, re-rigging rods and tackle, filling gas tanks, etc.), it was important to be efficient with my time. And one place I could certainly save a half-hour or more was in the fish cleaning shack.

I’ll never forget the first time I stepped up to the cleaning table at Lake of the Woods to fillet a dozen 2-pound walleyes with a standard 9-inch fillet knife. One fellow guide plugged in his electric fillet knife, a cheap Mister Twister plug-in model, and he was done with his dozen walleyes as I finished fish No. 3. In other words, he was filleting fish four times faster than me, and I wasn’t a slow poke. Lesson learned.

Click here for a quick Facebook video from my longtime friend Jeff Simpson on how to use an electric fillet knife to clean walleyes. (Be sure to turn up of the volume for best viewing.) Jeff is using a Bubba Lithium Ion Cordless Fillet Knife ($189.99), and as you can see, it works well. The company also offers a less-expensive corded version ($149.99). 

I’ve never used the Bubba, but I’ve had excellent results with the Rapala R12 Heavy-Duty Lithium Fillet Knife. It comes with two blades  (6 and 7.5 inches) and two battery packs. One battery will last up to 80 minutes, and it comes with two batteries. The knife isn’t inexpensive — $179.49 — so I was a bit apprehensive with that kind of investment, but it has a 2-year warranty, which provided peace of mind. Thus far it’s been outstanding. 

Note: If you want to dip your toe into the water of electric fillet knives without spending a lot of money, you can still purchase the original Mister Twister Electric Fisherman. The MSRP on the company’s website is $40.97, but the street price on many other websites is only $20-$30. 

As Simpson explains in the video, you should bleed your fish before bringing them to the cleaning table. The result is pearly white fillets. Click here for an article I wrote about bleeding fish. It takes only a few seconds per fish to bleed it, and the results are spectacular. Simpson also passes along an excellent tip on leaving the portion of skin attached to a fillet when required for species identification during travel home.


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