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Rapala R12 HD Lithium Fillet Knife Review

As a reliable brand for casual and professional anglers, Rapala has been producing quality electric fillet knives for years. However, previous fillet knives presented slight flaws that needed some polishing. But the company heard the suggestions, and all those issues came to an end with the Rapala R12 HD lithium fillet knife.

This cordless electric fillet knife is everything an angler can expect. It offers outstanding runtime, intuitive functions, and consistent power to pull through skin and rib bones with ease. Plus, you don’t have to deal with the obnoxious two-button blade release mechanism anymore. Everyone wins!

After hours of research, I can finally give you a comprehensive Rapala R12 HD lithium-ion fillet knife review. Stick around to learn how this single knife can be a life-changer in your fishing experience.

What Comes with the Box?

  • Motorized Handle
  • Two Stainless Steel Blades with PTFE Coating, Sizes 6 In. and 7.5 In.
  • Two Lithium-Ion Batteries
  • Rapid Charging Base
  • EVA Foam Case
  • User Manual

Key Specs

  • 80 Minutes of Running Time
  • Two Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Batteries
  • PTFE-Coated Blades of 6 inches & 7.5 inches
  • Blade Release Mechanism
  • Top Power Button
  • Built-In LED Light
  • Battery Life Indicator
  • Storage Case

Features

The Rapala R12 HD offers innovative features that make it a one-of-a-kind fillet knife. For this review, I focused on how these features come together to create an all-around knife for anglers. It doesn’t matter if you usually work with small or medium fish. With consistent power, the Rapala R12 Cordless pulls through most fish to produce delicate filets with minimal waste. Here’s how it does it.

Blades

This knife comes with two flexible blades. One is 6 inches, and the other one is 7.5 inches long. The shorter 6-inch blade is excellent for smaller freshwater fish like sunfish, crappie, and yellow perch. It can reach under the skin and glide along the backbone without getting stuck.

For larger fish such as bass, walleye, or trout, I found that the 7.5-inch blade is the most suitable. This blade can also deal with catfish pretty well. While any other Rapala R12 HD lithium fillet knife review tells you the knife isn’t good for large fish, I found that’s not the case. It takes patience and time, but you can still use this knife to fillet larger salmon or tuna.

The blades have a solid PTFE coating which protects the steel against moisture if you leave the knife around the boat. This coating also reduces friction, making the blade glide smoothly between the backbone and meat. You will feel less resistance while cleaning the fish. The cuts are cleaner and leave only a thin layer of meat on the carcass, reducing meat wastage.

Handle

The motorized handle is a strong point of this knife. It’s lightweight, ergonomic, and non-slip. It’s lengthy but not heavy. Therefore, it’s easy to hold it if you have small or large hands. This construction is the opposite of the Bubba cordless fillet knife, which is bulkier and feels heavier. I find it more comfortable to use the Rapala R12 HD cordless knife for several minutes.

However, what I liked the most about the handle is the design. Each function like the blade release or lock mechanism is at an accessible location. You don’t waste any time whether you want to secure the blade, remove it, or start it. Also, the power button at the top of the handle is another plus. The slicing motion to separate the meat from the rib bones feels smoother, and your fingers are farther from the blades if that’s a concern.

One thing I noticed is that the handle heats up after filleting more than 20 crappies. Luckily, the heat was a mild inconvenience. It doesn’t affect the knife’s performance and you can fix it by taking a small break.

This knife comes with a built-in LED light, which I found pretty useful while filleting fish in low light conditions. It will help you to fillet your catch at the end of the day, even in low light.

Blade Release Mechanism

The blade release mechanism is another improvement that I enjoyed while using this knife. Previous models like the Rapala Heavy Duty Corded Knife had two buttons to release the blades, which was uncomfortable and time consuming.

In this case, the Rapala R12 HD Cordless Knife has only one release button. It’s easier and faster to change blades if you’re filleting crappie with the 6-inch blade and find a larger specimen that requires the 7.5-inch blade.

Lock/Unlock Button

Rapala cordless knives have a lock/unlock button that secures the blade in place. The position of this button makes it easy to press if you need to stop to rinse the fish or inspect for pin bones. Pressing the button again unlocks the blade immediately, allowing you to resume your filleting without wasting time.

Battery

The two batteries are the R12B model, which is a vast improvement for Rapala. Each lithium-ion battery is 10.8V (12V Max), 2.0Ah, and 21.6Wh. At .40lb each, they don’t add much weight to the handle.

The battery’s running time is approximately 80 minutes, which is a bit low compared to other knives like the Bubba cordless electric model. After a few tests, I found that it can fillet about 60 crappies on a single charge.

Fortunately, the batteries take only 60 minutes to charge, compensating for the lower running time. As a result, you don’t have to wait too long to resume your fish cleaning activities. And this is actually a plus because the knife heats up after filleting over 20 crappies continuously. You can take a break while the battery charges and the electric knife cools off.

Battery Power Indicator: The knife has a LED power gauge on the handle spine to monitor battery status.

Charger

The charger’s input is 110/120V AC 50/60Hz 1.4A, with an output of 12V DC 2A. It weighs only .60lb, which I found very easy to carry around.

There’s a blinking green light for charging, a static green light to indicate a full charge, and a blinking red to let you know if there are issues.

I also appreciate that the knife comes with a 2-amp rapid charging base. It takes approximately an hour to charge the batteries, which is a massive benefit whether you prep fish at home or outdoors.

Since the charger only works with R12B batteries, you must be careful while buying replacement batteries. Maintenance is another concern, but it doesn’t take much time or effort. Keep the air vents clear, and the unit will work flawlessly.

Uses

The main purpose of the Rapala R12 HD is to clean and fillet fish. Upon testing, I found that the motor and handle can manage fish of different sizes easily. You can use it to fillet smaller crappie, trout, walleye, and even smooth-skinned fish like catfish.

Other uses for the Rapala electric fillet knife include center slice cuts on ham or flat cut briskets. Alternatively, you can use the knife to carve a turkey and slice bread, among other uses.  

What’s the Warranty and Return Policy?

Rapala offers a 2-year warranty for certified original owners only. The warranty covers your Rapala R12 HD lithium fillet knife from material or workmanship defects under appropriate use.

The warranty doesn’t cover the following items:

  • Parts damaged from misuse, commercial activities, lack of maintenance, modifications, abuse, or neglect.
  • Normal wear, except as follows;
  • Periodical maintenance products like lubricants or blade sharpening.
  • Finish deterioration caused by exposure.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • The motorized handle has each function at an accessible location to prevent wasting time and makes it easy to use.
  • The handle is lightweight, allowing you to clean fish non-stop without feeling a burden.
  • You can release the blade by pressing a single button.
  • The top power button makes it quicker and smoother to produce delicate cuts between the meat and rib bones.
  • The two blades are ideal for small or medium fish and decent enough for large catch like salmon.
  • The blades activate instantly once you push the power button.

Cons

  • The batteries last slightly over an hour.
  • This kit offers only two blades.
  • Heats up after filleting several fish continuously.

Competition

Let’s find out how the Rapala R12 cordless knife stands up to its contemporary knives.

Rapala R12 HD Cordless Electric Knife vs Rapala 110V Corded Fillet Knife

Both the Rapala cordless and corded models are outstanding fillet knives. Nonetheless, corded knives restrict your workspace to a fish cleaning station because you need a power outlet to operate it. On the other hand, the cordless model works with batteries and you can use it at any location you like such as lakes or rivers. Older models also had flaws like the two-button blade release, which the Rapala R12 HD fixed.

Another difference is how each knife performs. I found that the Rapala Cordless model is more powerful and durable than the Rapala 110V electric knife. The cordless knife allows you to fillet over 60 crappies in a single charge, whereas the Rapala corded knife can burn out if you try to fillet over 100 crappies in a single go.

The only disadvantage of the Rapala cordless knife is that it heats up and vibrates more than the corded model. I still recommend the cordless Rapala if you’re a casual or professional angler.

Rapala R12 Cordless Electric Knife HD vs. Bubba Pro Series Cordless Fillet Knife

The Bubba Pro comes with two more blades and can handle larger catches like salmon. However, it struggles with smaller crappie or trout because the blades usually get stuck on the rib cage. That’s not a problem if you own the Rapala R12 HD. This electric fillet knife also starts up quickly, whereas the Bubba powers up gradually.

Rapala R12 HD knives heat up faster and can’t handle as many fish as the Bubba pro series. The Rapala battery usually lasts for an hour and allows you to fillet approximately 60 crappies. However, the Bubba batteries run for about 2 hours, enough to fillet over 100 crappies and still have charge.

While the Rapala cordless fillet knife heats up faster and is louder, the handle feels more comfortable and lighter. The vibrations are barely noticeable in both knives.

Consider the Bubba cordless knife ($239.99) a better choice for commercial use and the Rapala ($179.46) an awesome knife for casual anglers.

Rapala R12 HD Cordless Electric Knife vs American Angler Pro

The American Angler Pro is available at around $140, whereas the Rapala R12 heavy duty lithium fillet knife combo is approximately $179. However, paying the extra $30 for the Rapala is worth it.

There’s no doubt that the American Angler Pro is a powerful fillet knife, but it doesn’t last long. If you’re an everyday angler, it will likely last for about two seasons before burning out. The Rapala R12 HD comes with coated blades and a motor with proper ventilation to handle high torque. As a result, the Rapala R12 HD lasts longer than the American Angler Pro.

Rapala R12 HD Cordless Electric Knife vs. Bass Pro Shops XPS

I would advise buying the Bass Pro Shops XPS if you want to save money. This fillet knife is $99.99 and comes with three stainless steel blades, whereas the Rapala only has two. It offers decent torque and doesn’t overheat. On the other hand, the Rapala provides more consistent speed and is more durable overall. Therefore, the Bass Pro Shops XPS is more of an entry-level device, and the Rapala R12 HD appeals to anglers of all skills.

FAQ

Are the batteries waterproof?

No, the R12B batteries are not waterproof. Do not expose it to moisture and keep it in a dry location.

Is the charger USB port?

The R12CB charger doesn’t have USB ports. It connects to a power outlet, and the battery attaches to the top.

Brian Casey
About Brian M. Casey

As a food lover, Brian M. Casey developed a fascination for cooking at an early age. He soon realized that not only the ingredients matter but also the knives and the accessories used to turn those ingredients into a delicious dish. This way, Brian began his journey on the magnificent world of kitchen knives, outdoor knives, knife accessories, and much more. After years of experience with many ups and downs, Brian now wants to share everything he’s learned during his journey as an avid knife collector, a well-seasoned knife maker, and an all-around knives enthusiast.

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