Best 5 Carp Unhooking Mats: A Buyers Guide

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In fishing, so much of the time is spent locating a perfect spot, purchasing the ideal gear and hooking into fish. Once we hook into the fish and begin the fight, we’re concerned about getting the fish into our net.

It’s a stressful but also an enjoyable few minutes as we complete the fight. Where many anglers can get in trouble, myself included, is when it comes time to handle the fish.  

In this article, I will cover all you need to know on the basics of unhooking mats and the best options to buy. 

What is an Unhooking Mat? 

Unhooking mats are essentially a flat bed for fish which are used by anglers when unhooking a large fish. Anglers will lay their catch on the mat safely, and not have to worry that it’s going to harm itself with movement.

The unhooking mat comes in various shapes and form and is used when a fish of 5lbs or more is too large to unhook safely by hand. 

These mats are typically used for removing hooks from carp, tench and catfish. Fish can safely move around on the soft mat while it calms itself down. These mats often have measurement systems on them that make measuring the length of fish much easier. Overall, it’s an efficient system that allows you to better care for your fish while still enjoying your catch.  

It has a protective fabric and foam centre that provides a comfortable location for your fish. 

My 5 Best Carp Unhooking Mat Recommendations

Whilst unhooking mats aren’t the most popular tool used by anglers. Many specimen carp anglers in the UK are required to use them. Many fisheries will not allow entry to their fishing lakes without the use of them.

Every angler should have a vested interest in keeping fish safe and should be willing to put in a little extra work and money, into purchasing a mat. 

Korum Super Light Fast Unhooking Mat – My Best Overall Pick!

Korum Super Light Fast Unhooking Mat – My Best Overall Pick!

The Korum Unhooking Mat is a wonderful option for your next unhooking mat. While it’s a bit on the smaller side, it has a wonderful design along with some great features that combine many of your needs into one. There’s a measuring tape as well as a weight sling for you to get a full measurement of your fish. Plus, this mat is made using a durable waterproof Supa Lite material

The best part of this mat is that it’s extremely portable. Similar to a sleeping pad for backpacking, this unhooking mat rolls up so you can hook it to your pack and carry it around with you as you’re traversing along the banks of the water you’re fishing. All you have to do is unroll the mat, and you’re able to use it.

Keep in mind that this isn’t the largest unhooking mat that you’re going to find, but it’s still going to hold a decent sized fish. One additional great feature is that it comes with reinforced D Loops for clipping to any kit bag.

The dimensions are as follows: 

Closed size 40 x 38 x 12cm

Open size 80 x 40 x 26cm

JRC Defender Flat Fold Mat – My Most Versatile Pick!

JRC Defender Flat Fold Mat – My Most Versatile Pick!

The JRC Defender Flat Fold is another mat that is great for anglers who like to move around as much as possible. The mat provides around 50mm of foam padding, and you even have a velcro down safety flap for the fish. 

If you’re fishing with the pad during some rough weather, you’ll find four-pin down points that will keep it in place in the midst of the challenging conditions. There’s even a waterproof carrying bag that allows you to store it and clean it without it ruining any aspect of your vehicle. Plus, it’s not going to break the bank.  

This is a truly diverse option that’s going to work very well! 

The dimensions are as follows: 

112cm x 76cm

5cm Thick

JRC also have an option for a roll-up mat, which is slightly smaller than the JRC flat fold mat. 

Tongina Unhooking Mat – My Best Beginners Pick!

Tongina Unhooking Mat – My Best Beginners Pick!

The Tongina Unhooking Mat is a budget-friendly and low-profile mat. It’s lightweight and has the bare necessities that you would need when you’re purchasing your unhooking mat. Carp unhooking mats are often a bit excessive when it comes to features and as a result, they’re challenging to transport. 

This mat is the cheapest option out on my list. However, the affordable price doesn’t come without a few cons. First, it can soak up a bit of water, so make sure to air it out well once you’re done using it. Also, it’s not overly thick, but that’s not necessarily an issue!

It folds in three, has elastic straps and does the job. There’s nothing fancy about it, but it’s great for someone who isn’t looking for the nicest unhooking mat on the market. This is a great mat for younger anglers or beginners.

The overall dimensions are as follows: 

100cm L x 60cm W

0.5 cm thick 

Carp On – Beanie Unhooking Mat 

Carp-On Beenie Unhooking Mat

The Carp On Beanie Unhooking Mat is a bit more affordable option for those anglers looking to make the most of their time fishing while moving. Anglers who move around have a hard time bringing the unhooking mat with them. The Carp-On Beanie Unhooking mat is quite a bit easier to move around other than most. The material is made with 210D fabric, so it’s going to help protect your fish as well as the riverbank that you’re fishing on. 

The dimensions of the pad are as follows: 

115cm x 60 cm

The padded side depth is 8cm

The mat depth is 3/4 cm

The area of the mat where the fish lays is 30 cm

This can fold in half and can easily be attached to a backpack or fishing vest if you’re planning on being on the move. Many mats are a bit more rigid and difficult to manoeuvre, so if ease of transportation is a priority for you, the Carp-On Beanie Unhooking mat is a lovely option. 

This mat is a great option for those not targeting specimen carp but will manage fish easily up to 25lbs. 

Wychwood Beanie Unhooking Mat 

Wychwood Beenie Unhooking Mat

The Wychwood Beanie Unhooking mat is another nice, portable option for anglers who like to move around as they’re fishing. It has a 40mm foam padding at the bottom and is made with a 600D water-resistant parameter. You can easily clean it and it’s not going to soak everything you own as you transport it. 

Sling it over your shoulder with the padded shoulder strap and move it to your next location. The four pegging points are going to keep it in place regardless of the conditions that you’re fishing.

This mat is a little larger, so it’s going to fit some of those big carp you find yourself catching! Wychwood is a reliable fishing company with some great tackle options including mats. 

The overall dimensions are as follows: 

120cm L x 85cm W

12cm Deep

This mat I purchased several years ago and I still use this today. It is robust and made from quality materials.

How Do I Use an Unhooking Mat? 

Depending on the unhooking mat that you purchase, it may be as simple as laying the mat on the ground. There are more advanced models that have metal legs that you can unfold to get the mat a bit further off the ground. These models are known as cradles and make it even easier for you to reach down and use, but they aren’t as portable as some of the mat types. 

Once your fish is close, get ready to land it with your net. As it enters your net, you can immediately place it on the unhooking mat without having to use your hands. Even if you do use your hands, you can take it out and place it on the mat and barely touch it.

Always, make sure you wet your hands before you handle the fish. You don’t want to ruin the protective slime covering! 

When you’re on the unhooking mat, take your disgorger, or forceps and remove the hook as soon as you possibly can. Once the hook is removed, you can measure the fish and truly get a good look at it. 

Why Do I Need An Unhooking Mat?

After landing any large fish, many anglers rush around scrambling to remove the fish from the landing net, move the fish to take photos or weigh the fish if it is a good size fish. During this process, it’s typically when anglers drop the fish, grip it too hard or keep it out of the water for far too long.

Secondly, most ground around the fishing bank is hard and offers very few grassy areas to place the fish. These carp mats can give all the protection needed to avoid any damage to the fish whilst it is out of the water.

Anglers today are under more scrutiny to take care of the fish, especially in commercial or syndicate fisheries

Who Uses Unhooking Mats?

Today, all carp anglers use both an unhooking mat as well as a cradle. However, many other freshwater species such as tench, catfish, and bream require the use of mats. It is becoming more of a best practice to keep your fish as safe as possible throughout the entire catch and release process. 

Back in the 1990’s carp anglers had very basic mats to place their fish on and cradles were unheard of 30 years ago. Anglers have now become far warier and more concerned about taking care of fish and the environment, and tackle companies have developed many new improved styles and designs.

How To Clean A Unhooking Mat?

Unhooking mats collect fish slime and also dirt from laying on the ground. The easiest way to clean your mat after every fishing trip is to give it a good wash with soapy water, a hose down with water and then hang it in the sun to dry.

Drying your mat in the sun is extremely important to kill off any bacteria which can spread infection such as KHV between any fisheries that you frequent.

What Are The Alternatives To Using A Unhooking Mat?

The vast majority of anglers carry an unhooking mat, if you do not own one the best option is to lay the fish on soft lush wet grass. This will prevent the fish’s scales and body from getting injured but is not as safe as using a proper mat.

Final Thoughts

I strongly encourage all anglers to buy and use an unhooking fish mat. They are relatively inexpensive and can certainly help protect the fish that you catch.

Please check out and read more of our fish care articles here!