Best Carp Fishing Cradles (Updated)
A carp fishing cradle is a very important piece of kit for any carp angler to ensure the safety of any carp that are caught.
The majority of carp fisheries across the country will require a carp cradle (or unhooking mat) and in many cases, this is a must-follow rule.
Carp care should be at the forefront of all carp anglers minds when handling fish and all precautions should be taken to ensure the fish is returned to the water in top condition.
When I first started carp fishing, many years ago, a carp unhooking mat was very basic. The unhooking mats were very thin and relatively small in size, certainly compared to the products available today.
Some of the carp cradles these days look more comfortable than my first bedchair!
In today’s carp fishing, the unhooking mats and cradles available are often much larger and also offer a great deal more padding and protection.
Not only are carp unhooking mats and cradles larger/thicker they also offer more features that ensure for improved carp care.
Like all carp equipment, there are a plethora of options available when deciding to purchase a carp cradle.
In this article, we are going to explain the features to look out for, along with their benefits and also recommend the best fishing carp cradles currently available.
Let’s get started
Features of a carp fishing cradle
Carp in general, are growing larger every year and so you need to ensure a carp fishing cradle is large enough to cater for any size of fish you may catch.
Think about the largest carp in the waters you plan to fish.
Are you going carp fishing abroad?
These factors will greatly assist you when deciding which size carp cradle you require.
The majority of my recommendations will cater for all sizes of carp in the UK and even abroad.
Padding & Materials
As I touched on earlier, some unhooking mats are very thin and in my opinion, do not really provide enough protection for a large carp.
You need to ensure any carp cradle you purchase is well padded to provide plenty of cushioning for the fish.
Many of my recommendations offer soft padding internally and more durable materials on the outside.
Some even offer nice extra touches such as knee pads and carry handles.
Carp Cradle or Unhooking Mat?
You may be contemplating buying an unhooking mat, rather than purchasing a carp unhooking mat, many manufacturers offer carp cradles.
These are raised off the ground and are often large enough to cater for any size of carp, even the beasts found in lakes in France et al.
Many of the carp cradles are height adjustable meaning less distance to transfer the fish and also much easier for the angler to handle the carp.
I would highly recommend a carp cradle over a standard unhooking mat if your budget allows for this.
A standard unhooking mat will cost less than a carp cradle.
As I mentioned I would choose a cradle if you can push the budget, however, for many of us we are on a limited budget and so I will recommend several products that are excellent value for money.
Generally, you get what you pay for and a carp cradle is no different.
I will recommend some top quality products for all budgets without compromising on performance and carp care.
Carp cradles offer better ergonomics in terms of the adjustable heights, knee padding etc when compared to standard unhooking mats.
I will highlight any features that offer improved ergonomics.
Leeda Rogue Carp Cradle
Leeda is producing some fantastic carp equipment of late and their carp cradle is no different.
A decent size to cater for the majority of carp you are going to land and providing lots of protection to ensure carp care is paramount.
A well-built frame to handle the big carp you will hopefully land!
I’m not a fan of the colour but that is purely subjective.
- Designed to provide excellent comfort and protection to carp
- Solid and stable frame to cater for large carp
- Cradles the fish whilst being unhooked
- 102cm x 66cm when erected
- Complete with Velcro cover and carry straps
- Great value for money for a carp cradle
NGT Carp Cradle
NGT carp equipment is currently doing very well and there are good reasons, their gear is brilliant!
The NGT carp cradle is made of soft but protective waterproof materials allowing for some water to be retained in the cradle.
The excess water is drained off at the sides via the open corners, which is a nice touch.
Constructed from a light and very strong aluminium frame, this carp cradle will take the weight of any big carp.
The NGT carp cradle comes complete with large feet, the kind you would find on a bedchair, for excellent balance when setup.
This carp cradle also offers a large knee pad which if you are anything like me and have dodgy knees, is a very welcome feature!
- Soft protective 210D waterproof material with bottom corners for drainage
- 100cm x 65cm x 35cm
- Light but strong aluminium frame with adjustable legs
- Built-in knee pads (very good for anyone with bad knees like myself)
- Large feet like you find on a bedchair
- NGT’s best selling carp cradle
NGT Jumbo Unhooking Cradle
Another offering from NGT with their superb jumbo folding unhooking cradle.
This cradle does not come with a frame and to offset this, the cradle has additional padding and lots of it.
Slight smaller than the other products in this article, so bear that in mind and think about the size of carp you are targeting.
This cradle also has a built-in knee pad to help when handling any carp.
Much more lightweight and portable than a framed carp cradle.
- Soft protective 210D waterproof material
- 88cm x 55cm x 21cm - slightly smaller than the cradles
- Lots of padding with PE board and thick sponge
- Ridgid outer and soft inner mat (due to no frame)
- Detachable foam mat in the bottom
- Built-in knee pads
- Lightweight and portable
- Great value for money
NGT Pop-up Carp Cradle
To complete the recommendations, another NGT product.
This pop-up cradle is a bit of a hybrid between a carp cradle and unhooking mat.
Very lightweight and compact perhaps for a shorter session.
The pop-up nature allows for quick assembly and makes packing away a breeze.
Completes complete with a couple of pegs to secure everything down and also a well-made carry bag.
Well padded to offer excellent carp care
- Compact and lightweight design
- Quick folding pop-up cradle to maximise your time
- A hybrid between and unhooking mat and a full carp cradle
- Lots of padding to protect the carp
- Complete with a carry bag and pegs to secure it down
- 108cm x 50cm x 20cm
- Great value for money
There we have it, my recommendation for the best carp cradles. Once again, this shows you don’t need to spend a fortune to get a top-quality carp cradle that will not only protect the carp but also make your life a bit easier when handling the fish.
See you next time!
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