Reviewed by: CAPT. MIKE SCHOONVELD
My favorite manual filet knife is a Dexter brand. It holds an edge, sharpens easily when the edge gets a little dull, has a comfortable grip, but this review isn’t about knives. When I was at ICAST, due to my preference for Dexter Knives, I stopped by their booth to take a look at their extensive product line and learn if they had any new or interesting items to report about to Great Lakes Angler readers.
What caught my eye wasn’t a knife, however. It’s a set of pin bone pullers.
Every salmon, steelhead and lake trout filet which comes from the Great Lakes (or in the seafood department at your store) has a row of pin bones left in the flesh after the meat is cut free of the spine and rib bones. Though it’s possible to filet the filet and remove the pin bones with a knife, doing so wastes some of the best meat on the filet and leaves the filet looking butchered.
Luckily, the pin bones can be removed easily by just pulling – if the cook has something which will get a firm grip on them. I have a small pair of scissor pliers – a tool which operates like a pair of scissors, but has serrated jaws as in a hemostat. I’m sure it’s some sort of medical tool since it came in a box of assorted surgeon’s instruments I found at a yard sale.
I’ve tried other tools, few of which did a very good job. I once had a pair of needle-nose pliers which were okay. I’ve tried hemostats that failed miserably. Why not a tool designed specifically for the job?
So I got a pair (actually two pairs – they come in a two pack) and with more than a healthy dose of skepticism – put them to the task. Surprisingly, they work very well! They grip the bone and hold on as well as my scissor pliers. Better yet, they release the bone easily by just rinsing under a stream of water.
When it comes to the 15 or more pin bones found in every salmon or trout filet you cook the Dexter Tweezers will do the job for you. They are widely available at retail outlets as well as many online sites.