Letting your catch suffocate for hours is cruel. With the best ikejime kit, you don’t prolong the suffering. This humane and ethical method of killing fish also ensures your catch stays fresh and retains its best possible flavor. Here’s how ikejime works and a review of the best kits you can use to perform an ikejime. We’ve also included a step-by-guide on how to
What Is Ikejime?
Wild or farmed fish are mostly killed through air asphyxiation, a slaughtering method wherein the caught fish is left to suffocate in the air. Other anglers or commercial fish farms also use asphyxiation on ice, wherein they put live fish inside an ice bath and leave it to die of exhaustion.
Unfortunately, both of these prevalent fish slaughtering methods are inhumane because it prolongs the suffering of the fish. It can even take as long as four hours for the fish to become insensible. Another problem with this approach is it can initiate a stress response that affects fish quality and shelflife.
During the struggle of staying alive, the fish produces more lactic acid in the muscle. This excess decreases the pH level, causing meat deterioration. And, when the fish enters rigor mortis, decomposition will quickly set in.
Ikejime eliminates both problems. This centuries-old Japanese way of killing fish involves spiking the fish’s brain and blocking the spinal column (to stop ATP production). This method quickly ends the fish’s life and prevents the lactic acid spike that affects the quality of the meat.
What Are the Best Ikejime Kits?
If you want to try ikejime, you will need an ikejime kit. It usually includes a spike and wire but, you can also get an ice pick and purchase the wire separately. Here are some of the best options that you can get.
1. Xtrada Shinkeijime Long Ikejime Kit – Best Ikejime Kit
Whether you are a commercial fisherman or a recreational angler, the Xtrada Shinkeijime Kit is the best ikejime kit you can get on the market today. Its included fish spike has an ergonomic and big handle for better grip while performing the ikejime. It also has a stainless steel wire which easily penetrates the spinal cord and effectively destroys the spinal nerves. While it is overall a great kit, the length of the wire is not best for large and long fish species.
2. Svord Kiwi Iki Spike
If you already have a wire and only need a spike, the Svord Kiwi Iki Spike is an excellent option. We particularly love this ikejime spike because of its easy-to-grip handle – most ice picks are usually rounded and harder to hold and maneuver when your hands are wet. The spike’s ultra-high tensile steel and razor-sharp end allow fast spiking. Unfortunately, the spike is only 3″ and not best for thick-skulled fish species.
3. Xtrada Pocket Ikejime
The Xtrada Pocket Ikejime is the more portable version of our top kit, the Shinkeijime. As a matter of fact, you can hang it from your pants! But despite the smaller footprint, the Pocket Ikejime shares the same efficiency as Shinkeijime. It has an ergonomic handle, an easy-to-glide wire, and a spike that requires minimal effort to push through the fish’s brain. Plus, you can store the stainless steel wire within the spike. However, this ikejime kit was designed for smaller fish like bass and perch.
4. Yoshihiro Spike
This spike from Yoshihiro is the most unique ice pick-like tool you can use for ikejime. Instead of using plastic for the handle and steel for the spike, you get one block of high-quality stainless steel. Don’t worry. The t-shaped handle is still easy to grip. However, the spike’s thickness can be overkill if you catch smaller fish.
5. Svaitend Aluminum Alloy Ice Pick
This aluminum alloy ice pick from Svaitend is another no-fuss ikejime spike. It looks like a regular kitchen ice pick, but you’ll love its textured handle for extra grip. It also includes a sheath so you can safely carry it in your fishing rod bag or pocket. Plus, if you’re ice fishing, you can rely on its aluminum alloy construction to chip-off ice. The only gripe we had with this product was the spike’s diameter.
How to Ikejime Fish
Performing ikejime may seem intimidating at first, but the process is pretty simple:
- You will need to locate the brain of the fish. It is usually above the fish’s eye.
- Position the spike in the middle of the fish’s forehead.
- Pierce the spike through. You will need to swiftly perform this step because there’s a probability that the brain will fire stress signals throughout the fish’s bodies. If you’ve successfuly penetrated the skull and hit the brain, the fish’s jaw will drop.
- Get a knife and cut the gills.
- Slide down and push the wire down through the hole. This will stop the nervous system from sending more stress signals which can spike the lactic acid production.
- Place the fish in ice water.
Ikejime may take more effort to perform, but this centuries-old way of killing fish is more humane. Plus, you can preserve the quality of the fish!