Remember the old '80s Ginsu knife infomercial, which depicted the Japanese kitchen blade cutting through tin cans, blazing through a box of frozen spinach and chopping a piece of wood — then cutting a piece of bread so thin “you could almost see through it?”
Andrew Messenger wasn’t even born back when that classic aired, but the 23-year-old UL-Lafayette senior has pretty much created the Ginsu of fish fillet knives, and the 2016 version of the infomercial would be awesome to watch.
Here’s the sample script I envision:
A box of tough sheepshead wearing out your old electric knife? No problem.
A couple of limits of redfish have your trusty, rusty antique fillet knife begging for mercy? Bring ‘em on.
Red snapper from your offshore excursion wearing you out at the cleaning table? Please!
The 2016 version of the commercial would show Messenger’s invention — the HOSS Fillet Knife — cutting through all of the fish mentioned above with very little resistance, like a proverbial warm knife through butter. (Think the Saints defense for any of the last several seasons.)
Messenger, who is fittingly set to graduate in December with a degree in industrial technology — married the power of a reciprocating saw with a machined 9-inch Dexter knife blade to create quite possibly the last fillet knife you’ll ever buy.
It turns out the inspiration for Messenger’s genius was born from necessity — he owns HOSS Bowfishing Charters out of Golden Meadow, La. — and he’s very well acquainted with having to clean tough-as-nails redfish. He long-used a traditional 9-inch Dexter fillet knife when inspiration struck.
“I just thought of it when I was cleaning fish. We shoot a bunch of redfish, and I have to clean redfish right there in front of my customers and get them out and ready to go home, and I need something faster than what I was doing. You’re trying to cut, and it’s such a pain to get through it,” Messenger said. “We had a sawzall around the house, and I figured it out then.
“So I machined that Dexter blade to fit into the saw, and it works pretty well.”
He characterized the knife’s filleting performance as quick and aggressive — in fact, a bit too powerful for softer fish like speckled trout.
“It’s a little too aggressive for specks, but it’s good for your harder fish like redfish, snapper, black drum, sheepshead and a lot of your offshore fish,” he said. “It works on bigger catfish, and some guys are even using it to clean tilapia up in Texas.”
Messenger’s Hoss kit, which sells for $225 including shipping, includes a Ridgid reciprocating saw small enough to operate with one hand, a carrying case and a brand new 9-inch Dexter fillet blade that Messenger machines to fit into the sawzall. (It will fit other sawzalls besides the Ridgid model, he said.)
“I talked to Capt. Marty Lacoste while we were at the Sportsman Show in Gonzales, and he told me he’s cleaned over 2,000 fish with it and it’s still cutting like the first day he got it,” Messenger said. “So we don’t know how long the blades last yet, but it’s definitely a very long time.”