We received two new Silver Creek fishing knives for review from Buck Knives to use while testing the emergency fishing kits from Best Glide. Let’s take a look at how they worked out.
Buck Knives has been making blades since 1902, a lot longer than I have been fishing. But, like I said in the Best Glide article, I’ve put tons of fish in the ice chest. The hitch with catching fish you intend to eat is that you eventually have to clean them. That can be a simple or complicated process, depending on what species of fish you’re dealing with, and how you intend to prepare it. No matter if you plan on deep frying catfish fillets, or pan fry sun pearch over the campfire, at some point you’ll have to cut into the fish to prepare it. To do that, you’ll need a good knife. Buck has recently introduced a new line of fishing knives called their Silver Creek models designed to accomplish that task no matter what you plan to do with that fish.
Buck knows a thing or two about knives for the outdoorsman. Their hunting knives are the benchmark the world over by which others are judged. Buck Knives have helped with cleaning every type of game imaginable on nearly every continent. All this experience puts Buck in an excellent position to build dedicated fishing knives meant for hard use by professional and sport fishermen. In their new Silver Creek line, Buck has introduced new two fillet knives utilizing the same handle design with long and medium blades. The third fishing knife is what Buck is calling the Silver Creek Bait Knife. This knife uses the same well thought out handle, but instead of a thin fillet blade, it has a wider, more utilitarian blade. The Bait Knife is stiffer than the other two, with a uniquely serrated back. All three fishing knives utilize the same components, including style of sheath, and only vary the blade design.
I received the Silver Creek Bait Knife, and the medium length Silver Creek Fillet Knife for review. Both are constructed of stainless steel with a titanium coating. Now, I’m not normally a fan of coatings on blades. Some knife companies use blade coatings to hide poor grind geometry, or give a knife that ‘tactical’ look that sells knives to backyard commandos across the country. In the worst case, blade coatings can be so thick that they actually serve to increase drag and slow a knife down in the cut, requiring more work from the user to accomplish the same goal. With all that laid out, I’ll say this plainly, Buck has a winner for a blade coating. I’m not sure how they got it on there, but Buck has coated these fishing knives with a titanium based coating that is very well done. The coating is nice and thin, finished mirror smooth, and is evenly applied. Buck says this coating increases corrosion resistance. This certainly held true in my test, and after several weeks sitting in dried fish slime and bait gunk, the knives showed no sign of corrosion.
Since the sheaths for the fishing knives are of the same design, I’ll address them together. Buck uses a molded plastic sheath that retains the knives with a friction fit that ‘clicks’ the knife into place. I was very impressed with how secure the sheaths are, and they maintained that excellent fit throughout all my testing. The sheaths are designed to be as slim as possible, not taking up any unnecessary room in a usually already crowded tackle box. There is a drain hole molded into the bottom of the sheath that lets excess water and fish remnants come off the knife and out of the sheath. On the back of the sheath is a molded in belt clip that is nicely designed. The style of the belt clip reminds me of the Mora sheaths that hold some of my personal favorite outdoors knives. The belt clips allow belt carry like normal, but also serve to hold the knives to the tops of waders, fishing vests, life vests, and nearly anything else the user can think up. One handed removing and replacement of the knives while the sheath is clipped to a belt proved easy, even with cold and wet hands.
The Bait Knife has a blade length of 4 3/8” of 420J2 stainless steel. The blade is the useful drop point style, with a full flat grind. Full flat grind and a drop point being two of my favorite knife features, I was anxious to get out and use the Bait Knife. I took the Bait Knife (along with the medium Fillet Knife) out on a recent fishing trip to one of my favorite local fishing spots. I wore the Bait Knife in several different configurations throughout the day. Using the molded in belt clip on a belt was very simple. Moving through brush, bending and stooping, and general tinkering with fishing equipment did not dislodge the knife from my belt. A favorite carry option for me with a light weight fixed blade is to simply slip the knife in a back pocket. I often carry a light fixed blade in a backpack as well, and only slip the knife in a back pocket when preparing food, doing camp chores, or needing it for general use. The Bait Knife carried extremely well in the back pocket. Staying upright and secure, thanks to the molded in striations of the plastic sheath, I was impressed with the ease of carry of the Bait Knife.
As a general use knife designed for the fishing world, the Silver Creek Bait Knife is an excellent choice. Having a full tang that extends about 3/8” from the butt of the knife serving as a lanyard attachment, the bait knife is easy to keep tethered to your body while working over water. Truth be told, I’ve dove after several knives, flashlights, and a very nice multi-tool at our fishing camp in South Louisiana. A little slow to learn my lesson, I’ve now been converted to the benefits of a lanyard on any device that will be used over or around water. Buck supplies their knives from the factory with a lanyard of ample size, solving this problem for you ahead of time. The handles of the Buck Silver Creek knives are also nicely designed to keep them in your grip. Made with a lower stainless guard, and molded plastic handle, the handles are aggressive enough to stay in hand even when covered with fish slime and worm guts.
After catching and dealing with several fish, and dealing with bait and general pond muck, the handle was covered in all sorts of slime. I later used the Bait Knife to rummage through a rotting log for worms and grubs to use as bait, and the handle stayed securely where I intended it to stay. The molded grooves and ridges in the handle serve to get the slippery muck away from the portion of the handle that your hand comes into contact with. Another aspect of the Bait Knife that I found useful was the section of serrations on the back of the knife. I used the serrations to sever thick rope and scale fish pretty easily. I’m positive the serrations would also be useful for preparing and processing large chunks of bait and chum, a real benefit to fisherman needing to perform this task in the limited space of an offshore fishing boat.
The medium Silver Creek Fillet Knife that I received has an overall blade length of 6 3/8” of the same 420J2 stainless steel. The Fillet Knife has a slim blade, with the same full flat grind as the Bait Knife. I’ve used several different fillet knives to clean hundreds of fish, and have found that the most useful fillet knives have several key features. A good fillet knife needs to be flexible. Without this, actually filleting a fish is a chore and an exercise in aggravation. But, a flexible fillet knife can be pressed downward, allowing the blade to ride on the spine of the fish as the edge is worked towards the tail. The medium Buck Silver Creek Fillet Knife exhibits excellent flexibility. I was able to hold the handle, and press the tip of the blade down, creating over an inch and a half of flex in the blade. This is right on par with my most used Rapala fillet knife that has cleaned countless fish. The blade returned to center each time with no signs of ‘memory’ of the flexing.
The next most important aspect of a fillet knife, and any knife intended to process fish or game, is its edge. A fish and fur knife needs a sharp edge that will stay that way for a useful enough period of time to process whatever game the user is working on. I’ve been halfway through a white tail deer and had to switch knives because the one I was using just wouldn’t cut any more. Likewise, I’ve been halfway through a 30+ fish cleaning session and had to stop to sharpen up the edge of a fillet knife. To me, that’s not that big of a deal, and it will eventually happen. If you use it, a knife will dull. Getting it back to sharp is the key. So, lacking the dozens of fish to clean that I normally would have available, I set out to give the fillet knife a serious workout. In my shop, I gathered numerous cardboard boxes that once contained parts for an old Bronco that I’m rebuilding. Then, I started cutting.
I cut strips of cardboard until I could feel the edge noticeably dragging. When the edge started dragging, requiring more effort in the cut, I kept going. After 90 strips of cardboard were lying on the floor, I finally had an edge that would no longer shave. To sharpen up the edge I used a ceramic rod that was handed down to me from my great uncle, a fishing fanatic in his own right. With about seven or eight minutes of work, I restored the edge back to shaving sharp. This ability to be resharpened is of critical importance to the outdoorsman. No matter the claim made, if you use a knife for extended periods of time, as is often done with a fillet knife, it will dull. Being able to restore that edge and get back to work is what makes an outdoors knife a real winner. Buck has done an excellent job of grinding the edge and heat treating the Silver Creek Fillet Knife properly to get the fisherman done with processing their catch and on to enjoying the fish fillets without unnecessary delay.
After several weeks of use, both fishing and general utility use, I have been impressed with the Silver Creek knives. Both of the knives have proven useful for their respected intentions. The handles are nicely done and with the included lanyard, are ready for over water use right out of the box. The sheaths are tailored to wet environments, and seem to have incorporated the best aspects of the Mora style most outdoorsmen are familiar with. The Bait Knife is at home on a fishing boat, a bait preparation station, and around camp. The Silver Creek Fillet Knife does exactly what it says it will do, slice through fish and prepare them for the skillet or fry basket with ease. With real world prices around $30, the knives are certainly a great value for those looking for a knife that will get used in harsh environments. And, with Buck’s ‘Forever Warranty’ you never have to worry about buying a bad knife. Buck stands behind their product, and that’s pretty easy, as their products are certainly top notch.
Check out Buck’s website at www.buckknives.com