Coming from a career as a charter boat and private boat captain, I have had the opportunity to clean a lot of fish. Everyone who has cleaned fish before will know this common truth.
Nothing is worse than a dull knife when filleting fish.
In fact, I would go as far to say that cutting fish with a dull knife is more dangerous to your person, than using one that is razor sharp. Now either one will cut you, but when struggling with a dull knife, one has a tendency to be pushing harder and struggling to cut which leads to that “oh no” moment. Using a sharp knife means less pressure is needed to get the job done and less jostling around with the carcass.
I would also venture to say that all knives get dull when cutting fish, so for me the ability to put an edge back on a knife with minimal effort is more important than super-hard, high-dollar steel. Now talking about knives is almost as touchy a subject as one’s favorite gun or bow. We all have a preference and these are simply my choices after 29 years of cutting fish. I like a quality knife with softer steel that takes an edge back quickly.
To put that edge on and maintain it, I prefer the Master Grade Sharpener. The Master Grade Sharpener was designed for professional chefs and butchers and was also endorsed by Chef Martin Yan, a celebrity TV chef who gave it extensive in-house testing.
Master Grade’s goal was to create a simple to use, highly effective knife sharpener made from the highest quality components available. The culmination of these qualities took the form of the commercial-duty Master Grade Sharpener in 1994.
These sharpeners quickly became the standard by which others were measured.
In 2005 after seven more years of research and development, Master Grade introduced the Premium Knife Sharpener for home and light industrial use. The sharpener offers the same function and quality standards at a very affordable price.
Now as the word continues to spread, the company has added the first of its kind, 12-volt sharpener for outdoorsman, caterers and fishermen.
I was introduced to the Master Grade by a friend and boat owner, who loved a good gadget. He showed up with the commercial grade (only the finest) and we began to work over our fish knives.
There are three sets of sandpaper wheels of various coarseness. The coarse wheel is used to put the initial angle on the blade and this wheel takes off the most metal. I generally only use the coarse wheel one time . Follow that with 6 to 8 swipes on each side with the medium grit and then the same with the fine grit wheels. Thats all there is to it.
I can sharpen a bunch of knives in very little time with this unit and have bought them for at least three subsequent boats since my first introduction.
My system is to have a good handful of knives in rotation. I take three to four sharp ones to the table and as soon as one is getting dull, I switch it out for a sharp one. At the end of the session, I run them through the Master Grade’s fine grit wheels and it brings them right back to super sharp.
You will get spoiled fast by always using a sharp knife.
The Master Grade
The cover comes off and the wheels are easily interchangeable.
I start with the medium grit for most situations, unless the knife is just terrible and then it needs to start with the coarse grit wheel. After many sharpening sessions, the wheel can be flipped to access a fresh side, and then eventually you can order a new wheel, but I’ve only had to buy the fine one once.
Place the knife flat against the flat side of the guide and gently pull the knife towards you keeping the blade evenly pressured. You should alternate sides of the knife between the two slots, one side and then the other for about six swipes per side. Do all of your knives with the coarse, then medium grit to get started and work your way to the fine grit wheels.
Repeat this simple procedure with the fine grit using less and less pressure with each swipe until the knife is super sharp.
I then wipe down the knives with a paper towel with spray lubricant on it to remove the metal dust and coat the fresh steel.
I highly recommend the Master Grade and though I have not owned the 12-volt model, I can picture how handy that would be too.
Check out the Master Grade website for more information.