Fish care is vital element of angling, preserving future stocks and maintaining the pristine condition of specimen fish benefits us all. From unhooking the carp to preparing it to weigh, to taking photos and releasing it back into the water, it is of the utmost importance that great care is taken over the fish.
With that in mind, there are a couple of options; a traditional unhooking mat, or a carp cradle which is much the same, but with sides and a more structured frame, not quite 360-degree protection for the fish, but its as close as you’re going to get.
Trakker Sanctuary Cradle
Our first pick is the Trakker Sanctuary Cradle, constructed from fish-friendly and easy to clean rugged 420D PVC material, the Trakker cradle ensures a waterproof temporary holdall for the fish so water can be held with the fish to ensure a calm sanctuary. The cradle sports a solid internal cover which can be used to retain water in the cradle or to cover the fish which is particularly ideal during the sunny weather where the light is bound to dry the fish and cause stress.
There cradle also used full fast-drain mesh for its base which is the same fabric used on Trakker’s Sanctuary Retention Sling V2. These holes are to allow water to escape from the cradle. The frame of the cradle has a high-density foam frame for the ultimate protection for the fish.
There are six height-adjustable options on the legs to ensure a comfortable level for not only the angler but the correct level for the fish. Heavier fish will make the cradle material meet the ground and so boosting the frame will help protect the fish more. There are also rotating mud feet on the legs of the frame to keep the cradle level on uneven bankside terrain.
If that was not enough, the cradle includes a large storage pocket for your scales and carp care essentials along with a rubber Carp Care Guide included. The cradle is a fast set-up and pack down option that can be neatly folded away for flat and easy transport in the supplied carry bag.
Fox Carpmaster AIR Mat
An impressive unhooking mat that offers the ultimate in carpy fish care, giving total, air-mattress comfort and protection to your priceless catches, keeping fish supported, and well clear of the bank, this Carpmaster Air Mat from Fox has to be the ultimate lifestyle essential for the dedicated carp angler who is committed to ensuring the very best treatment of each and every fish they catch, and looking for a final photo of a sleek, scaley beast swimming strongly away as the water ripples around it.
The Air Mat comes in two sizes, so you can choose the mat that’s right for the kind of carp you typically catch, or invest in a larger and more supportive option from the start, a good choice if you know your carp campaigning will take you to foreign shores, and bring you face to face with some truly massive specimens. The Standard Carpmaster comes in at 100cm x 50cm, while the XL gives you 125cm x 70cm of cushioned, protective space to unhook and photograph your new personal best, which is fully enclosed by the air-cushioned, raised ribs that form a traditional cradle arrangement, and also support the weight of a fish if you decide to flip the Air Mat upside down, and use it that way – a better choice for smaller specimens, and those long, slender carp that sometimes crop up. In cradle form, a removable 50mm foam base gives soft, soothing support to carp of all sizes, and simply pulls out if you need to invert the mat for smaller fish.
Nash Deluxe Carp Cradle
Synonymous with high quality carp fishing tackle, Nash is one of the largest carp specialist brands on the modern market. It is responsible for the development of much of the terminal tackle, rod supports, and bait we take for granted today.
User friendly on any bank, the Carp Cradle Deluxe from Nash uses adjustable legs with swivel mud feet to cope with uneven and soft ground, meaning a secure sanctuary for your catch to rest whilst weighing and photographs are takes place.
To make sure the windy weather or uneven terrain stress out your catch, you can use the pegging points to keep your cradle secure. There is also the added features of a heavy cushioned kneeling pad so not only in the fish comfortable but the angler is too.
It is important to remember carp care buy keeping the fish hydrated whilst out of the water and giving any additional medical care where required on the fish. To help with this Nash has includes an external pocket for your Medi Carp kit.
The overall dimensions of the cradle are 118cm L x 70cm W x 39cm D and it weighs in at 5.4kg.
Aqua Atom Camo Unhooking Mat
This is the perfect carp-care addition to our Atom range. This self-inflating carp mat packs down to an unbelievable compact size, making it the perfect solution for roving anglers or anglers who prefer to keep kit to a minimum.
The mat can be easily attached to our Black Series Rucksack range and various other items of luggage, but don't let its compact pack size fool you; when inflated it turns into a full-sized oval-shaped flat mat. Manufactured from carefully selected premium materials to offer the ultimate in fish care, the mat features an internal 50mm thick self-inflating air cell and sealed high-density foam rim to keep the fish in place. This is then covered in fish-friendly soft PVC for a prized catch to lie on. It has a full Velcro cover made from performance-grade DPM Camo Aquatexx fabric, padded kneeling mat for comfort, and a waterproof wipe-clean base to offer comfort and convenience when dealing with fish on the mat. It comes supplied with a waterproof DPM Camo Aquatexx carrybag to keep odours and moisture away from your equipment when packing away.
JRC Defender Flat Fold Mat
Popular with roving anglers, the JRC Flat Fold Mat is exceptionally convenient to carry, featuring a completely fold flat design, yet still ensuring fish comfort and safety, with 50mm foam padding and a Velcro down fish safety flap. The unhooking mat also features Velcro along the side perimeter, which allows you to attach the JRC Defender Sling Sack, giving you the safest possible support for any catch.
Four pegging points can be used to secure the mat to the bank during rough weather, while both the mat and its waterproof carry bag feature durable webbing carry straps that make your bankside exploits even easier to get underway.
At 112cm x 76cm x 5cm, this deeply padded mat is sized for carp, and designed to protect a whole host of species. The perfect choice for any angler, order your JRC Defender Flat Fold Mat online today, or head in to your local Angling Direct store.