Best Carp Fishing Cradles in 2021 - (Top 4 Carp Unhooking Cradles Reviewed)
When you think of cradles the mind is probably drawn more to crying infants than fish. But as carp anglers we should be treating our catch with pretty much the same care and attention. Carp are designed to be in one place and one place only, the water. When they are on dry land they are very vulnerable.
As you will undoubtedly know, carp can be extremely strong, and if one manages to thrash free of a careless grip, the damage inflicted can be fatal.
Back in the day anglers used to use a wet towel, but this didn’t provide any support aside from the hard ground underneath and could easily damage a carp's delicate scales (shudder).
The solution is to use carp fishing cradles. They are designed to support the carp throughout the weight of its body, keeping it comfortable whilst it is unhooked, weighed and then returned safely to the water.
Carp cradles are not created equal however and careful consideration is needed before you make your choice. This article is going to go through some key features of the best carp fishing cradles to help you make a more informed decision.
Strapped For Time?
Not got the time to read the full article? The quick answer to the question is as follows...
The best carp cradle is the Deluxe NGT Carp Unhooking Cradle. It offers independantly adjustable mud feet, giving ultimate stability and is constructed using waterproof and carp-kind PVC. It also includes a cover to keep your catch in position. Click here to scroll for more info.
If you have a little more time feel free to read our article which will explain many of the benefits of carp fishing cradles...
To start with the following table summarises some great choices for Carp Cradles.:
Last updated on 2021-01-21 / Images from Amazon Product API
What are carp fishing cradles?
A carp fishing cradle can go by a few names, including an unhooking mat or fishing sling. They are made in such a way that they are fairly portable and waterproof. The best carp fishing cradles will adequately support fish up to pretty much any size. They are used immediately after you have the fish safely in the landing net and they ultimately provide a handy safe surface to unhook and hopefully (if big enough) weigh your catch on a decent set of fishing scales.
What features should carp fishing cradles have?
First and foremost, when looking at a carp fishing cradle, you should ask yourself the following question; Will this fishing cradle keep the fish safe and comfortable? If the answer is ‘no’ then it is time to move on. Key features that will keep a fish safe are a soft fish friendly surface. Anything that will catch a fin or damage a carp’s delicate body should be avoided.
The fishing cradle should also adequately support the weight of the fish, across the entire length of it’s body. There should be no pressure points on the fish whatsoever. This is normally achieved with carp fishing cradles by utilizing the same concept as a hammock, or a bed. It is worth considering what type of terrain you normally fish on.
Some carp fishing cradles utilize a frame, which may not be the most stable if you are fishing on a steep bank or rocky terrain. In this case you may be better going for a ‘bed’ style carp fishing cradle.
The best carp fishing cradles also have walls to prevent an inadvertent escape by energetic or lively fish. Whilst carp tend to be pretty sedate once they are landed, it pays dividends to avoid taking any chances, it only takes one drop for a fish to be critically injured.
Now that we have looked at the safety aspect, lets delve a little deeper and look at things which make a good carp cradle into the best carp cradle.
A carp cradle is a little bit of a barrier to being mobile, however if you are going to carry one round then it makes sense to make it as light as possible (whilst still bearing in mind the above points of course).
There are several solutions to ensure a little mobility and ease of portability with fishing carp cradles. This normally comes in the form of being able to fold the cradle and stow it in a smaller size when it is not in use.
If you are using them correctly, carp fishing cradles will be in constant contact with the fish. As a result water from the swim and maybe some residue from the fish may rub off onto the cradle. If left to stand you can imagine what the result will be. Therefore drainage and ease of cleaning is another feature you want to be on the lookout for.
As an additional bonus, drainage holes allow you to pour water on the fish whilst it is in the cradle, which will keep it cool and probably in a little better mood. By being waterproof many carp fishing cradles afford the angler the option of being able to submerge the cradle in the water meaning that the carp will never need to be picked up by hand.
Whilst this might look good for a photo opportunity, with particularly heavy fish the weight of your hands can create pressure on their body and ideally should be avoided.
If you are specifically looking for an unhooking mat rather than a carp fishing cradle then please consider the following top 5 best sellers currently on Amazon:
Last updated on 2021-01-21 / Images from Amazon Product API
Back to Cradles... Here's an example of how easy carp fishing cradles are to use
The following products are what we recommend as the best carp fishing cradles:
Best lightweight carp fishing cradle
ABODE DLX Oxford Sling Combi Carp Fishing Unhooking Mat
This option offers the bare minimum that we would recommend for a carp cradle. The base is padded with thick sponge, preventing the carp from being injured by any features on the bank. A nice benefit of this cradle is that you can pick up both handles and return the carp to the water without ever having to touch it. This cradle is made of sturdy PVC meaning after unhooking all that you need to do it give it a quick wipe and a rinse and it will remain fresh.
Best budget carp fishing cradle
Leeda Rogue Carp Cradle
This carp fishing cradle is an upgrade from our suggestion above. It is in the hammock/frame style but has quite a few nice features to ensure a safe experience for the fish. Three legs give ultimate stability preventing inadvertent tipping or overbalancing of the cradle whilst it is ‘under load’. Each edge features a soft mesh drainage hole, so cleaning should be straightforward. When the fish is placed in the centre its own weight creates a natural wall leading to the centre so it should keep your carp nice and secure.
Best value carp fishing cradle
NGT Carp Cradle
This carp cradle is one of our favourites and will keep your fish as snug as a bug in a rug. It is a bed style carp cradle, meaning that the base of the cradle rests on the ground. The fish will remain safe however as the base has very thick padding. The high sided walls present any inadvertent ‘escapes’ so your fish will be safe and secure as you unhook it. This carp fishing cradle is fairly substantial even when folded flat so if it is mobility you are after it might be a little big. But that said the carp will be grateful for its bulk, as it is mostly padding. The fishing cradle also has drain holes, so you’ll be able to sluice it out prior to packing it for next time.
Best premium carp fishing cradle
Large Deluxe NGT Carp Unhooking Cradle
Carp fishing cradles such as these are designed for serious specimen anglers. It is built like a tank. It comes with two pairs of legs with independent adjustable feet, so can be erected on most terrain. The frame is constructed of sturdy and lightweight aluminium, so you can avoid back ache when you are carrying it down to the swim. The hammock part of the carp cradle is made from sturdy and waterproof PVC, meaning that water doesn’t soak in, it is also pretty soft on the carp’s body. The cradle also features a cover, so if you need to turn your back for a minute you can do so, safe in the knowledge that your fish will remain exactly where you left it.
Gone are the days of unhooking carp on your knee or on a patch of grass by the swim, and we must say this is a positive step forward. Above all what anglers should be concerned with is fish safety, and then aesthetics.
With the best carp fishing cradles you hopefully will get both. By keeping your catch safe and secure you will be ensuring the future of the sport and perhaps more importantly of each individual fish that you catch.
So there you have it, our choice for the best carp cradles in 2021.
If you need any fishing tackle please consider visiting one of our recommended online fishing tackle shops.
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