Words & Images: Kosta Linardos
As a child of the 80s who grew up on the many wonderful action films of that era, I have a deep love of knives. Knives were the weapon of choice for action heroes, and Schwarzenegger and Stallone had quite the influence on this impressionable mind. Whether it’s kitchen knives, hunting knives, pocket knives or fishing knives, I love them. I am an enthusiast and a collector. I am therefore very picky when it comes to good fishing knives, whether it be the knife I keep on the boat for general bait duties or the knives I keep at home for filleting work. I have learned over the years that you are far better off buying a quality knife for filleting and general bait duties than one of the cheap models that sit in tubs on the store counter. If cheap is all you can afford, that’s fine, but “buy once, cry once” is a saying that rings true in fishing, perhaps more than any other pastime, and it certainly rings true with knives.
Giesser isn’t a brand I have used before, so I was keen to check them out when distributor Tacspo asked whether I’d like to choose a few to review. Tacspo have their feet firmly planted in both fishing and hunting, and distribute some of the world’s best knife brands. Names such as Buck, Victorinox, Chef’s Choice and Swibo (to name a few) are part of their brand portfolio, so they know quality knives.
I chose a 15cm Flex Curved Boning Knife and a 20cm Butchers Knife. I chose the boning knife for taking fillets off smaller fish such as snapper and flathead and processing squid. It’s also the knife I’d use to make my initial incisions along the top of larger fish when filleting. I chose the 20cm Butchers Knife as my main boat/bait knife and as the knife I’d use for processing larger fish such as big snapper, tuna and sharks. If you’re wondering why I’m using a 20cm blade for bait, I’ll get to that later.
The first thing I noticed when opening the box was the handle on these knives. I own over 30 knives just dedicated to fishing and have never come across a handle as good as this. I own fishing knives from Mora, Dexter, Swibo, Victory, Tramontina and F.Dick (all great knife brands) and this is without doubt the best handle on a knife I have ever used. The handle is Giesser’s Primeline handle. It features an outer material that is extremely soft (but not spongy), more like rubber than plastic, and is extremely well textured to provide maximum grip, yet the core of the handle is hard. The handles are ergonomically designed and fit in the hand beautifully. Your hands can be covered in water, fish slime and blood and this handle isn’t going to slip. This not only makes it safe, but also reduces fatigue and provides far greater control with delicate filleting work. The material used in Primeline is also food grade safe, meaning that it isn’t holding germs and bacteria so you can safely let it encounter your freshly caught fish intended for sashimi without worrying about any cross contamination.
Being snapper season, that was my intended species to test these knives. The first test was with the 20cm Butchers Knife on the boat. I prefer a large knife on the boat for bait work. On this day, as on many days, I’ll have bait I’ve caught myself through winter such as Australian salmon to 40cm, 35cm squid hoods, whole large cuttlefish heads, pike to 80cm, couta to 50cm and then of course pilchards, gar and silver whiting. With a small bait knife I don’t have as much control when filleting larger fish and it’s very difficult cutting them into cutlets and getting through bone with a small knife. Often these baits are still semi-frozen, so I want a thick and rigid blade with some size that’s strong and sharp to quickly do all this work. I also want a knife that’s going get me out of trouble should I quickly need to cut rope and heavy leader or bleed and gut a shark. The 20cm Butchers Knife is the perfect size for carrying out all this work; it’s not too small or large – it’s just right.
Giesser knives are made in Germany using quality materials. The blades of these knives are made from a high-quality chromium-molybdenum (or chrome moly), a steel alloy superior to standard stainless steel. Chrome moly is an excellent steel to use for fishing knives as it’s quite hard yet easy to sharpen and has outstanding corrosion resistance. This means you won’t blunt or easily chip the blade, but even a beginner can sharpen it to a point that it can handle any fishing or filleting duties. I keep mine outside on my bait board where it gets wet, and it doesn’t even tea-stain. It just needs a good hand wash after use and a few laps of a steel and it’s ready to go again.
The Butchers Knife handled all the bait duties beautifully. It was very sharp straight out of the packet, though I’ve since honed the blade to an even sharper edge, and I used it for multiple bait duties then went on to fillet three snapper with it and a gummy shark.
Back at home I used the Boning Knife to fillet the smaller fish I had caught and, like the Butchers Knife, it was sharp, well balanced and made the job easy.
The only thing I can fault about these knives is that they don’t come with a sheath. This is because they are intended to be used in a kitchen and not carried on your hip. I need one in the boat where the sheath is fixed with a few cable ties on my bait board, so I found another sheath that fits and that’s where this knife will stay.
These two Giessers have found a permanent place on the boat and cleaning table, and I now choose them over a lot of my other knives. The Primeline handle is practical, offers superior comfort and the blades are the perfect steel for saltwater use. I can’t recommend them highly enough for general fishing and fish processing purposes. At around $60 for the Butchers Knife and $40 for the Boning Knife they may be a little more than what you’re used to spending, but they offer excellent value for money and a knife that will be with you in 20 years if you treat it right.