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Unhooking Mats & Carp Cradles

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The Essential Guide to Unhooking Mats in Fishing

Unhooking mats are an indispensable tool in fishing, ensuring the safety and well-being of the fish and the angler. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced angler, understanding the significance of unhooking mats is crucial. This comprehensive guide will explore everything you need to know about unhooking mats, from their importance to practical usage, maintenance, and more.

Why Unhooking Mats Matter

Q: What is an Unhooking Mat?

A: An unhooking mat is a protective cushion designed for fish. It provides a soft, safe, and clean surface for the fish during the unhooking process.

Unhooking mats are not just an accessory but a fundamental element of responsible angling. Here's why they matter:

  1. Fish Safety: Unhooking mats prevents damage to the fish's scales, fins, and skin. This reduces the risk of infection and ensures the fish can be safely returned to the water.

  2. Protecting Your Gear: Unhooking mats also safeguard your fishing equipment. Sharp hooks and fish with spines can easily damage your gear if you don't use a mat.

  3. Responsible Angling: Using an unhooking mat demonstrates your commitment to the well-being of the fish and the environment, aligning with the principles of ethical angling.

Choosing the Right Unhooking Mat

Q: What type of Unhooking Mat do I need?

A: The type of unhooking mat you need depends on the type of fishing you do and the size of the fish you target.

  • Coarse Fishing: For coarse fishing, where species like roach, bream, and perch are common targets, a standard-sized unhooking mat is usually sufficient.

  • Match Fishing: Match anglers often target smaller species like carp, tench, or crucian carp. In this case, a compact and lightweight unhooking mat is ideal.

  • Carp Fishing: Carp fishing requires larger unhooking mats designed to accommodate big fish comfortably and provide ample protection.

Unhooking Mat FAQs

Q: How should I clean my unhooking mat?

A: Proper maintenance is crucial for the longevity of your unhooking mat. After each use, rinse it with clean water to remove any fish residue and mud. Periodically, thoroughly clean with a mild detergent to prevent bacteria buildup and odours.

Q: Can unhooking mats transmit viral diseases?

A: Although rare, some viral diseases can potentially be transmitted through fishing equipment if not properly cleaned and disinfected. To prevent this, regularly clean your unhooking mat using a disinfectant or antiseptic solution recommended for fishing gear.

Carp Care and Unhooking Mats

Carp, known for their size and power, require special attention when handling. Here's how to ensure carp safety when using unhooking mats:

  1. Use a Carp-Specific Mat: Invest in a dedicated carp unhooking mat with adequate padding and size to support the fish's weight.

  2. Minimise Handling: Handle the carp as little as possible. Use wet hands or gloves to protect the fish's delicate slime coat.

  3. Keep Fish Wet: Always keep the carp wet. Use a bucket of water to wet the mat and keep the fish moist during the unhooking process.

  4. Release with Care: Release the carp gently into the water, allowing it to swim away naturally. Avoid throwing or dropping it back into the water.


Unhooking mats are not mere accessories but vital tools for responsible and ethical angling. Whether you are into coarse, match, or carp fishing, using the right unhooking mat can make a significant difference in the safety of the fish and the longevity of your gear. Remember to handle fish carefully, clean your mats regularly, and practice responsible angling to ensure the well-being of fish and preserve the aquatic environment for generations.