Best Carp Unhooking Mat 2020
Finding the best unhooking mat should be top of mind for any carp angler. After all, carp care is (or should be!) absolutely paramount on any fishery nowadays: from your commercial day ticket water to the very exclusive syndicate waters.
Long gone are the days of laying a carp down on a nice soft piece of grass to unhook him. Practically all fisheries demand the use of an unhooking mat and will go as far as asking an angler to leave a fishery if they haven’t got one.
Carp are very expensive fish, even more so when they begin to run into the mid 20lbs weight range and above. It is every angler’s responsibility to treat the fish they catch with the utmost care and respect when they’re on the bank.
One of the most crucial pieces of gear for carp welfare is the unhooking mat.
I can remember my first mat. It was probably two and a half feet long by a foot and a half wide and just over an inch thick.
Back in the day that was considered acceptable but in today's carp fishing world it would be far from it. The humble unhooking mat I first knew has evolved into something completely different and, in some cases, almost unrecognisable.
As a result of the increasing interest in the health of the carp, the products on the market offer many more features and have evolved far beyond just a simple unhooking mat. We now have mats, cots and cradles to protect the carp once we have them on the bank.
Unfortunately, more options means more choice and confusion when it comes to buying an unhooking mat. This article features a small buying guide as well as reviews of the best unhooking mats available to help make your decision a simple one.
Finding the Best Unhooking Mat for Carp - Considerations
Look for a mat of adequate size to ensure any fish will fit comfortably on it. You'll also want to refer to the venue rules you are fishing as some fisheries will specify a minimum size.
There is no such thing as to much protection when fish welfare is at hand. Opt for a sturdy, thick and well-padded unhooking mat.
When you're fishing, you'll already be packing a number of large items with you so looking for a mat that can be packed down to a small, space-saving size is very handy. Of course, this can be hard in some cases since the mats are quite large but it is certainly something to keep in mind.
For similar reasons to the previous point, you'll also want to reduce the amount of weight you need to carry around the lake wherever possible. Fortunately, there are some great unhooking mats that are lightweight in their construction.
The Best Unhooking Mats for Carp Fishing - Unhooking Mat Reviews
Here are my current picks for the best carp fishing unhooking mats. To be honest, you can't go too far wrong with either of them but the small reviews below should make your decision that much easier.
102 cm (L) x 70 cm (W) x 43 cm (D)
5.8 kg Weight
Sturdy steel support frame
A sturdy cradle that offers height adjustment to a good height, which means less bending down and kneeling. This also means the carp is not too far away from the cradle when being lifted out for that all important trophy shot.
In addition, the legs are adjustable for easy leveling on uneven ground.
This cradle folds centrally for simple packing and transportation and is designed to retain water in order to keep the carp wet whilst on the bank.
Nash say that across the two models they offer for this cradle they can accommodate any carp you are likely to catch anywhere in the world.
Overall, this is a great designed and well thought out piece of kit that does all you need to ensure fish safety.
102 cm (L) x 65 cm (W) x 28 cm (D)
Reinforced, high sides with deep padding
Easy clean mucus-friendly lining
Reinforced webbing straps for more even weight distribution
Zipped accessory-pocket on side
This is a high-quality, large unhooking mat. With all around padding, it makes for a very protective mat. For even more protection, it comes equipped with a velcro cover to retain the fish whilst inside.
Unlike the standard cradles, this isn't suspended from the ground and is more like a standard unhooking mat with raised sides. As a result, it may not be the best option for those who have trouble bending down low or kneeling.
However, it is a superb unhooking mat and it definitely achieves its intended purpose.
Closed: 60 cm (L) x 80 cm (W) x 20 cm (D)
Open: 120 cm (L) x 80 cm (W) x 10 cm (D)
Premium 40 mm foam padding and high water-resistance
4 aluminium peg points
Duraflex connection buckles
This is a sturdier, thicker and more protective version of the more traditional style unhooking mats. This mat will certainly protect a fish as far as laying it down goes but there is no side protection or cover to retain a lively fish.
Now that cots and cradles are available, I prefer the added protection the raised sides offer. However, this mat is perfect for anglers who wish to be more mobile (when stalking, for example) or those who want to travel light.
110 cm (L) x 50 cm (W) x 30 cm (D)
2.3 kg weight
150D Breathastop waterproof material
Unique folding design with built-in stability rods
Extremely portable, with carry bag and handle
Removable fish-friendly inner mattress
The Avid carp cot is a rigid framed cot with a 2 inch thick base for good protection when the fish is being unhooked, its available in 2 sizes: the standard as shown here and an XL, which is is wider and deeper.
The sides are not padded on the Avid carp cot. Instead Avid Carp have opted for a more rigid design, which works well for retaining the fish. It has a unique folding design that allows the cot to be folded in half and packed away in the supplied bag.
All in all, this is a neatly designed cot that offers great fish protection one. The only reason not to opt for this would be if you were set on having padded side walls.