The Leech Lake Knife Company

A great story. A purple cow. Phenomenal design. A Free Prize Inside. An army of customer evangelists. Scarcity.

Pretty phenomenal marketing from a 70 year old who has never heard of Seth Godin.

Don Canney has a superpower. He makes the best fillet knife in the world.

Don is an avid fisherman who has a home on beautiful Leech Lake in northern Minnesota. It isn’t unusual for Don to have filleted hundreds of fish after a day of fishing.

Years ago, Don noticed that his fillet knives got dull very quickly from the initial cut behind the gill. When making this cut you are cutting down into the scales that protect the body of the fish from the razor sharp teeth of other predator fish. With a nod and a wink to Mr. Charles Darwin, Don set out to redesign the traditional fillet knife.

Don used his education in metallurgy and material science to design a high carbon/semi-stainless alloy steel that is then hardened and tempered to Don’s specifications. The blade is extremely thin and flexible but the most unique and effective feature of this knife is really what sets it apart. The top is a sharp hook and top two inches of the backside of the knife is razor sharp.

Don didn’t just redesign a knife, he redesigned the process of filleting a fish.

Don’s Leech Lake knives are not only beautiful and extremely durable, they work unlike any other fillet knife in the world. When a Leech Lake knife owner meets a fellow fisherman, it is impossible not to show and talk about the knife.

You can’t buy Don’s knives on Amazon. Don prefers to sell his knives personally, one by one at the many sport shows he attends every year. This gives Don the ability to hand engrave the blade, “Made especially for your nameyear of purchase“.

Also, each knife comes with a nice leather sheath in which Don puts one standard size Band-Aid. Even though he warns people, everyone forgets and cuts themselves on the sharp upper side of the knife.

With a flexible, paper thin blade, many owners are worried about sharpening it themselves. After reminding you that it should only need sharpening once every couple years, Don offers to sharpen it for free, either at any of the sport shows or by mailing it to him. People that attend sport shows usually go every year, so after using your knife for a year, you go back to Don’s booth and buy a couple more for friends or family.

You can buy a basic fillet knife for $12 almost anywhere. Don’s amazing, hand-built knives cost $90 and are worth every penny. You get a lot more than a knife.

My Dad visited with Don at the Minneapolis Sport Show yesterday like he does every year. Don is getting older and he doesn’t do as many shows as he used to but he was still there, affable as ever, selling new knives and sharpening old ones, adding small but important personal touches that also help owners continue to tell his story.

11 thoughts on “The Leech Lake Knife Company”

  1. Just received a leech lake knife and am impressed with everything about it – except – when I asked this guy at Reeds about the knife I asked specifically whether it was hollow ground and forged. He said definitely. In looking at the knife it looks like it is a fine quality but stamped (pressed). Could you tell me whether this is a hollow ground forged knife? For the price it should be! Thank you.

  2. I bought my Don Canney fillet knife back in 1989 at the Minneapolis Sportsman Show for the some of $80.
    My wife thought I was nuts…still does, but for other reasons these days. It has held up exceptionally well. I've taken it from Minnesota to Canada to Hawaii and back. Best investment in a tool I have ever made.
    In my humble opinion, there is no better. Craftmanship and materials are without match.

    1. Absolutely, Cliff. Don and his knives are a great example of "you get what you pay for". $80 amortized over 21 years and counting….tell your wife your crazy investment only cost $3.80 per year (and dropping!) and probably less than a penny per fish! You can't beat that. Canney is a true artisan and what Seth would call a Linchpin.

  3. Hi
    Please provide address to send knife for resharpening,
    I send already knife to this address and address dos’t exist
    436 Fleetwood Road SW, Cedar Rapids

  4. Does anyone know where to get these great knives sharpened. We have two and they both need a new a edge.

    Thank you Bernie Luger

    1. I spoke to the folks at Custom Cutlery that make these knives for the Canney family. They will sharpen them if you mail them and include $6 for return postage. Their address is:
      401 E. Pine St.
      Marengo‎ IA‎ 52301
      United States

  5. I spoke to the folks at Custom Cutlery that make these knives for the Canney family. They will sharpen them if you mail them and include $6 for return postage. Their address is:
    401 E. Pine St.
    Marengo‎ IA‎ 52301
    United States

  6. I purchased five of your wonderful custom knives over the last handful of years and I’m wondering if they’re still available for purchase as I would like to get a couple more if possible. I did not see you this last year at the sports show so I’m hoping your still around and doing well.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>