Reviewed by: CAPT. MIKE SCHOONVELD
I used to have two thoughts when I’d show up at a busy fish cleaning facility and see people standing on a wet concrete floor holding an electric knife plugged into a 120V power outlet. Thought number one – “That looks dangerous!” Number two – There’s a guy who doesn’t know how to sharpen a fillet knife.
I imagine Paul Bunyan had two thoughts the first time he saw some lumberjack sawing down a tree with a chainsaw. “That looks dangerous.” And the next thought, “There’s a guy who doesn’t know how to sharpen an axe.”
I now admit to being a frequent user of electric fillet knives. When Rapala came out with a battery powered, cordless fillet knife, my fish cleaning method changed and I realized why those “plugged-in” knife wielders risked electrocution every time they caught a mess of fish. It dawned on me there is a reason why bakers use electric mixers to kneed dough, carpenters use power tools instead of hand tools and that even the sharpest axe won’t fell a tree as easily as a chainsaw.
I loved the cordless Rapala knife, but as a charter captain, I clean a lot of fish and I soon learned the original Rapala cordless knife was not heavy duty. I went through motors, switches and batteries often enough that I kept spares on hand, just like I keep spare reels, line and lures.
So when Rapala came out with an all new design with an HD in the name, I “hopefully” gave it a try. It’s heavier, runs more smoothly and after a whole season both the batteries and the motor are still giving “right out of the box” performance.
I know on my other power tools, the rechargeable batteries nowadays are better than those of just a few years ago. That’s certainly seems true with the battery durability and run-time on the R12 batteries. Since the unit comes with two batteries, I purposely left one in the handle long enough to run it down. It cut a week’s worth of salmon and lake trout at the end of May and then went on a walleye trip to Lake Erie the next week. It conked out on the fourth day. I didn’t check the recharge rate but Rapala says it only takes an hour.
Speaking of the recharger, I like that this one has three indicator lights giving an at-a-glance status of the charging battery. I also like the thumb activated on/off switch. It’s right where I naturally place my thumb on the knife handle.
What I really like is the speed. I don’t know the cycles per second rating of the corded models but I’d guess the R12 is two or three times faster than the original cordless Rapala. I was at a public cleaning station in Sheboygan last summer and a fellow across the table from me using a plugged in electric knife looked up when I triggered the R12 and said, “Good Lord! Is that an electric knife or a chainsaw?”
I loaned him my R12 to use on his last two fish. He smiled, said thanks, cleaned up quickly and drove away fast. I think he was heading to the tackle shop to buy an R12 for himself. They are available at many retail and online stores as well as from the Rapala website: http://www.rapala.com.