Field Test – Ian Scott

Ian ScottAbout.com, Ian Scott, Fly Fishing, reviews the Model #11 3 Finger Bird & Trout Knife.

Man’s Second Best Friend

There is an old adage that a man’s best friend is his dog. But, what is a man’s second best friend? I would suggest that a man’s second best friend is his knife.

Dependability and durability are traits that all good dogs exhibit. For the person that travels away from the cities, spends time fishing or camping in the bush, a good knife must also have characteristics of dependability and durability.

I have had a number of inexpensive knives in my lifetime. Some were given to me as gifts, and some I purchased because I needed something in a hurry and didn’t have my regular knife handy. Anyone who has purchased a cheap knife with lousy steel can vouch for the fact that they are a waste of money, are frustrating when they do not ‘keep their edge’ and at times, can even be dangerous!

I recently had the pleasure of field testing a knife made by Sunrise River Custom Knives. The model I tested was the 3 Finger Bird and Trout, with a 2 5/8″ blade and an overall length of 6 3/4″. When holding the knife, I knew immediately that this was a well made knife, with a fine sense of balance and control that knives of lesser quality simply don’t have. The handle, made from Cocobolo wood and finished richly, gave the knife that sense of quality a good knife deserves.

Aesthetics apart, the knife also performed very well! The characteristics of dependability and durability were synonymous with the knife I tested. The blade, made from 440-C Stainless Steel held up very well from conditions including cleaning fish, whittling down wooden sticks, and other general cutting work.

Jay Maines, owner of Sunrise River Custom Knives, crafts each knife individually. Any high quality knife should have a full tang, which means that the steel blade extends all the way up through the middle of the handle. As expected, the 3 Finger Knife is built with a full tang. Maines has not scrimped one bit with the thickness of his steel either. Even though the knife is not considered large as far as blade size goes in a fixed knife, one can feel the heft of the knife making for good control and power when cutting. An added feature includes thumb notches cut into the steel just below the handle. This is a feature not found on many knives, yet they can make a huge difference in the ease of cutting through material.

One of the most impressive qualities was how well the blade kept its edge. After much use, I was waiting for the blade to lose its sharpness, but it kept right on cutting. It was quite some time before I needed to hone the blade – definitely a quality of dependability.

At a wholesale cost of $135.00, this knife is a tremendous value. I have seen similar sized knives that cost more which did not have the qualities that I found in the 3 Finger Trout & Bird.

The knife also came with a very well made leather sheath, constructed of thick water buffalo hide, hand sewn and custom fitted by Jay Maines. The quality and durability of the sheath matches that of the knife. One of the things I learned from Mr. Maines, and was not aware of before, is that it is not a good idea to leave your knife in a sheath for long periods of time. The reason for this is that most sheaths are untreated and can attract moisture, which can damage a carbon steel knife. Sunrise Sheaths are treated with beeswax and saddle oil, but nonetheless storing your knife outside of the sheath is still a good habit to get into.

I am looking forward to years of dependable use with my Sunrise River Custom Knife. It may never become my best friend, but it certainly has become my second best friend!

-Ian Scott