Carp Care: 5 of the Best Carp Unhooking Mats

This week we will be taking a look at five of the best carp unhooking mats on the market.

Carp care in general doesn’t get enough attention as it should and as long as we’re fishing for carp we should also be responsible for the quality and care of the fish swimming in our local waters.

On most waters these days carp mats are a prominent rule and not having one could get you banned permanently.

Things like carefully transporting a carp on the bank and treating any nicks or cuts with a carp care kit is important. But most importantly having a well padded and well designed carp mat to help you secure the carp for weighing and trophy shots will ensure no harm will come to your target species.

If you’re new to carp fishing or want to know more details on what to look out for when buying an unhooking mat we have included a short buyers guide below.

Hope you find this guide useful and as always if you have any questions, leave them in the comments below.

Let’s get started…

Wychwood Walled Unhooking Mat

  • Includes heavy duty materials to protect mat from damage
  • Comes with a padded kneeling area
  • Designed to be easily cleaned
  • Includes a velcro down, mesh fish cover
  • Can be also used without the wall
  • Carry handles included

Price – £74.99

You can find it here

Trakker Sanctuary Oval Crib

  • Includes a stiff high-sided outer wall
  • Comes with a folding soft thick foam base
  • Includes a removable inner lining that has been designed for easy cleaning
  • Water drainage system design
  • Zipped side pockets ideal for storing carp care kit
  • Carry handles included on the mat
  • Carry bag with heavy duty strap included

Price – £89.99

You can find it here

Fox Easy Mat

  • Includes a fish-safe protective cover
  • Boasts a rapid set up and pack away
  • 50mm foam base
  • Carry bag included
  • Comes in standard (L108cm x W50cm x H15cm) and XL (L119cm x W66cm x H18cm) sizes

Price – £67.99

You can find it here

Aqua Camo Combi Mat

  • Offers ultimate protection with its deep walled foam padding
  • Covered in a fish friendly fabric, a safety retaining flap
  • Designed to have a large surface area
  • Supplied in a sleeve protecting the contents
  • Featuring the new DPM Camo Aquatexx fabric
  • The shoulder strap makes it perfect for stalking when folded in half
  • Dimensions: 5cm (h) x 70cm (d) x 120cm (w)

Price – 79.99

You can find it here

Avid Carp SafeGuard Cradle

  • Has a collapsible frame design that folds shut
  • Fully padded interior and exterior
  • Made from fish-friendly materials
  • Boasts mesh section for better water drainage
  • Comes with cover flap to temporarily secure fish
  • Includes a carry bag
  • Comes in two sizes – Standard (90cm x 50cm) and Xl (120cm x 70cm)

Price – £70.95

You can find it here

Things to look out for when buying an unhooking mat

  • Avoid bean filled mats as these can easily tear and leave a trail of beans wherever you go
  • Unhooking mats that include a mesh fish cover and/or a protective wall are ideal especially if you tend to fish on your own and want to take great photos of your captures
  • Make sure the unhooking mat is a larger size and includes a thick padded foam base
  • Included D rings on the side can be super useful for pegging down the mat on windy days


Thanks for reading our top five unhooking mats for carp fishing guide.

If you have any comments or questions on any of the unhooking mats featured then let us know in the comments section below.

Make sure you subscribe to the blog if you haven’t already and check out another carp tackle review or tackle guide, we know you’ll find them useful!

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How to Clean and Keep Your Carp Tackle in Pristine Condition

Cleaning your carp reelsThis week we look at how you can keep your carp tackle looking brand new without breaking the bank.

With spring just around the corner, now is the best time for cleaning and making sure your tackle is in top condition.

In this guide we will look at the products and techniques that will keep your tackle in pristine condition, ready for the new fishing season.

Let’s get started…


With many different techniques for cleaning rods we simply recommend using multi purpose cleaning wipes for the rod blank.

For the rods guides, clean them using cotton buds heavily coated with WD40.

Cork Handles

If your rods have cork handles and are looking a little worn or damaged, we recommend cleaning them, filling in the gaps with cork dust paste (Carpenter’s Wood Filler) then use a standard coarse and fine finishing sandpaper on the handle.

Custom rod companies such as Cotswolds Rods offer a refurbishment and rebuild service, if you would much rather a professional bring your old rods back to life.


To bring your reels back to life we recommend firstly washing the reels with warm water and then dry with a fine fibre cloth.

Lightly top up any of the moving parts with an oil lubricant (3 In One Multi Purpose Drip Oil) this will leave the reels feeling as smooth as when you first used them.

Cleaning reels

We don’t advise you lubricate them excessively as this can have a negative effect on the reel mechanism.

If your having any major issues with your reel, companies such as Shimano offer a reel refurbishment service.


If your bivvy is looking a little worn you may need to replenish it’s waterproof coating.

Brands such as Trakker recommend Fabsil Universal Fabric Cleaner and Fabsil Gold Reproofer which will clean the fabrics and give the bivvy a brand new waterproof coating.

Other useful products

WD40 – Great on any metal items such as bank sticks, bedchairs and barrows, giving them a new like look and a rust protective coating.

Pledge Furniture Spray – Ideal for polishing metal and plastic items but we don’t advise you use polish on items such as rods excessively.

Summit Stainless Steel Cleaner – A cleaner specifically designed to keep stainless steel items such as bank sticks looking as good as new.

Gardner Tackle Fluoro Plus – A product design to keep your main line in pristine condition.


Thanks for reading our guide on cleaning and keeping your carp tackle in pristine condition.

If you have any comments on any of the items or techniques mentioned in the guide then let us know in the comments section below.

Make sure you subscribe to the blog if you haven’t already and check out another carp tackle review or tackle guide, we know you’ll find them useful!

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CTR Best Carp Tackle Awards 2017

This week we look at the tackle items that we reviewed this year which we feel beat all the others on the market.

Our CTR Best Carp Fishing Tackle Awards 2017 have been selected from our tackle review team and our readers.

Our awards are set out as a bit of fun and merely our favourite items we reviewed this year.

The awards cover the best rods, best reels, best alarms, best bivvy, best clothing range and best gadget we’ve used this year.

We wish everyone a happy new year, a big thanks for reading the blog and we’re looking forward to creating some unique and interesting content in the new year.

Let’s get started with our 2017 tackle awards…

Best Rods – Wychwood C-201 Carp Rods

With most high end rods going for as much as £300/£400, the Wychwood C-201 is the perfect mid range rod option.

The C-201 Carp Rods scream quality throughout and come with all the features you would expect from a high end rod but available at just under £100.

You can find our review of the Wychwood C-201 Carp Rods here.

Best Rods runners up: Daiwa Longbow DF, Fox Warrior S and Free Spirit CTX

Best Reels – Shimano Ultegra 14000 XTD Reel

shimano ultegra 14000 xtd

The Shimano Ultegra 14000 XTD Reels are well designed and well built throughout. One of the main features is the instant drag, going from taking line to a tight drag when playing the fish with a single turn.

The reel includes a unique slow oscillation and brilliant line lay, which means the line can pull off the spool fast, this can be great for distance casting, making the reels ideal for most European type waters.

These are excellent carp reels for the money and most likely, the best carp reels you will find for under £150.

You can find our Shimano Ultegra 14000 XTD Reel review here.

Runners up: Daiwa Windcast, Fox FX9 and Wychwood Riot-S Black Big Pit

Best Alarms – Delkim Plus Alarm

Delkim Bite Alarm and Illuminated Hangers

The main feature that sets a Delkim Bite Alarm apart from the rest is that Delkim use a vibration sensing technology. The vibration sensing technology is exclusive to Delkim and offers you more accurate sensitivity options which could result in more fish on the bank in theory.

The Delkim Plus Alarm includes 20 sensitivity options which is handy in different weather conditions and fishing at different distances evidently avoiding false bite indications.

You can find out more about the Delkim plus alarm range in our Delkim 25th Anniversary Plus Bite Alarm review.

Runners up: Gardner ATTs, steve neville mk2 and Nash Siren R3

Best Bivvy – AQUA Camo Atom

The AQUA Camo Atom became our overall favourite bivvy in this years best bivvy 2017 guide.

Boasted as the most compact, lightest pram hood bivvy available on the market it was a clear winner of the best bivvy award.

It’s purposely designed with the mobile angler in mind but is also perfect for small swims, canals and river fishing.

Runners up: Avid Tardis, Trakker Tempest and Chub RS Bivvy

Best Clothing Range – Trakker

trakker tshirt

The Trakker clothing range includes waterproof coats, joggers/combat trousers, t-shirt, hoodies.

All of the range items compliment each other and look great on and off the bank. Our top picks are the Aztec Hoodie and the Core Multi-Suit.

Runners up: Nash, Fortis and Fox

Best Gadget – RidgeMonkey Modular Bucket

ridgemonkey modular bucket

The RidgeMonkey Modular Bucket is essentially a modular, multi compartment bucket, ideal for separating bait and tackle.

The two lidded trays included can be kept inside or attached to the outside the bucket for extra convenience whilst on the bank.

The RidgeMonkey Modular Bucket is a super simple gadget perfect for separating and organising items such as lose feed, stick/bag mixes, hookbaits and ready to go rigs.

Runners up: Korda Tackle Safe, RidgeMonkey Action Station and Jag Hook Sharpening Kit


Thanks for reading our CTR Best Carp Tackle Awards 2017.

We hope you enjoyed it and if you have any comments, please leave them in the comment section below.

Make sure you subscribe to the blog if you haven’t already and check out another carp tackle review or tackle guide, we know you’ll find them useful!

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Carp Tax? Where to Find Cheap Alternative Carp Fishing Tackle

We all spend a small fortune on the tackle essentials such as rods and reels, which is a must for any budding fishing enthusiast.

But there are some areas in carp fishing where you can save some of your hard-earned cash.

Ever heard of the carp tax?

Well I could’ve just made that up, but essentially the carp tax is the cost added to a generic product that is re purposed and sold to carp anglers for much more than it’s sold elsewhere.

Now I’m not saying that the carp tax is a bad thing because most tackle brands take the product and make small adjustments with the carp angler in mind but this is often cosmetic changes, for example adding camo to the product.

If these small changes are unessential to you to save you some money then you’ve come to the right place.

The items below are products very similar to products targeted to carp anglers without the carp tax which can be found at a much cheaper price.

Let’s get started…

USB Rechargeable Headlight

USB Rechargeable headlights are the latest trend with carp anglers but can be an expensive purchase. With a good search around online, similar headlights with the same features can be found at half the price.

usb headtorch for carp fishing

The iKross USB Rechargeable headlight includes most of the functionality that you will get with most carp branded headlights such as including White LED’s that can light up to 220 lumens of brightness which provides 500 feet lighting distance on high mode.

The iKross USB Rechargeable headlight includes a powerful red light mode which allows you to better preserve night vision which is ideal for casting in the dark.

The iKross USB Rechargeable headlight can be found for around £20 which is more than half the price of most USB rechargeable headlights you will find in the tackle shops, bargain!

Shrink Tube

If you love rig making and want to save some money, most shrink tubing types are used and sold in the electrification market. It can be often bought in larger quantities and at a much cheaper price than most carp branded shrink tubing.

For example, you can find 1 metre of 1.6mm brown shrink tube on Amazon for around £1.59, this is a great price and will last you a surprisingly long time.


Lots of carp brands have their own range of cookware but they can often be expensive but if we look at the camping market you can find a great deal and save a lot of money.

For example, the Aloc Kettle includes heat transfer technology which means you save fuel and will be 30 percent faster to boil. The Aloc Kettle has 0.9L volume capacity, heat proof lid, dedicated drawstring bag and can be found on Amazon for around £10 cheaper than other similar kettles.

Pop Up LED Camping Lantern

If you’re looking for cheap and cheerful LED lights to place around your swim whist night fishing then look no further than these pop up LED camping lanterns from iGadgitz.

These lights can be hanged and placed anywhere, super compact, lightweight and can be found for under £6 on places like Amazon.


We all love super stylish carpy clothing but sometimes you need to find some cheap and cheerful alternatives that still work well as bank side clothing.

Green Hoodie

You can find super cheap earthy coloured hoodies on Amazon for under £11, which are are surprisingly comfy and long-lasting.

In the winter months, waterproofs are a must if you plan to be on the bank for the duration but they can be expensive.

Don’t worry, you can find the Regatta Stormbreak Fully Waterproof Leisurewear Jacket for under £11 and will keep you nice and dry in those winter months and also a great item to always keep in the car throughout the year.

Terminal Tackle

If you fish a lot of snaggy or weedy specimen carp waters a popular technique is to drop the lead which brings the carp up in the water and can often be the only way to land these specimen carp but there is only one draw back.

Each lead lost will cost you around £2, which doesn’t sound a lot but you could end up losing around 10 leads per session and this price can build up over a period of time.

The way to save a huge amount of money is to buy leads in bulk. Company such as Buzz Tackle Leads offer bulk leads that are high in quality and each lead will cost you around 60-80 pence.

Bait Containers

If you’re a fan of pre-soaking hookbaits or simply make your own carp baits, these containers from Sourcing Map are so cheap and superb quality.

The Sourcing Map range includes containers ideal for homemade carp liquids or goos, screw lid containers that are ideal for soaking pop ups or nuts and smaller screw lid containers that are ideal for soaking plastic baits such as plastic corn.


Thanks for reading our guide on saving money and finding alternative cheap tackle.

If you have any comments about any of the items featured in this guide then please leave them in the comments section below, I’m sure we can help.

If you enjoyed this guide then make sure you subscribe or simply check out one more carp tackle review, tackle guide or a carp fishing tricks or tips post, we know you will find them useful!

You can also find us on Facebook for all the latest tackle news and reviews.

5 Handy Tackle Items That Wont Break the Bank

Carp fishing can be an expensive hobby but there are some super useful tackle items that won’t break the bank and will help you in your own carp fishing.

This week we take a look at five handy tackle items you can find for under £10.

Let’s get started…

Cygnet Easylift Weigh Bar

Cygnet Easylift Weigh Bar

The Easylift Weigh Bar aids you whilst weighing a carp with two hands, giving you an extremely accurate weight reading. No more shaky readings or getting a friend to read the weight.

The Easylift Weigh Bar is extremely compact and will fit into most bag, side pockets.

You can find it here

RidgeMonkey Nite-Glo Braid Scissors

RidgeMonkey Nite-Glo Braid Scissors

These braid scissors are not the most innovative product on the market but if you like to tie and change your rigs during night sessions these are ideal.

The handles glow very bright in all low light levels so you won’t lose them if you drop them in the dark. They are super sharp and can cut through most braided and leadcore materials out there.

You can find it here

Korda Strippa Tool

Korda Strippa Tool

No more pulling the coating of coated braids with your teeth. This little tool can easily strip most coated braids out there, giving you the rig presentation you want without damaging the material.

Very easy to use and you can use the ends of the stripper tool to tighten the knots of your rigs.

You can find it here

Fox Edges Multi Tool

Fox Edges Multi Tool

It’s in the name, the Multi Tool is a multi purpose 4 in 1 rig tool.

It includes a stripper tool, a knot puller, 2 pointed ends, the thinner point is ideal for creating a curved loop for d rigs and the larger point is ideal for small loops at the bottom of swiveled chod rigs.

You can find it here

Gardner Deluxe Weed Rake

Gardner Deluxe Weed Rake

The Gardner Deluxe Weed Rake is a compact castable weed rake, perfect for clearing extremely weed fishing spots.

The pronged points can clear a weedy spot in a matter of a few casts. Using a braided mainline is recommended when using this tool.

You can find it here


Thanks for reading our 5 Handy Tackle Items for under £10 guide.

If you have any comments about any of the tackle items featured in this guide please leave them in the comments below, I’m sure we can help.

If you enjoyed this guide then make sure you subscribe or simply check out one more carp tackle review, tackle guide or a carp fishing tricks or tips post, we know you will find them useful!

You can also find us on Facebook for all the latest tackle news and reviews.

My Carp Fishing Setup 2017 Part 2 “Luggage, Shelters and Gadgets”

mirror carpThis week we take a look at my very own carp fishing setup guide which is part TWO of the series.

If you missed part one please check it out here, it includes the rods, reels, rod support and bite indication tackle I currently use in my carp fishing set up.

This guide has been designed to help newcomers to carp fishing and also help those experienced anglers that are looking to upgrade and change their current tackle set up.

In this part of my carp fishing set up guide I will be showing you the chairs, luggage, shelters and other useful items I use in my own carp fishing.

Thank you for reading and let’s get started…


JRC Stealth X-Lite Recliner ChairThe JRC X-lite Chair is one of the lightest, compact chairs on the market and has to be one of my favourites.

It’s very low and comfortable but if you’re looking for a chair with ultimate comfort this may not be the chair for you as it has no major padding or head/neck support.

Great addition if you’re looking to scale down your overall tackle weight or travel around a lot.


The bedchair I use is the super light and compact Wychwood Tactical Bedchair. It’s very stylish, packs away quickly and I highly recommend it.
wychwood tactical bedchair


Luggage again is all down to personal preference and whatever suits your storage requirements. Personally I don’t really like to take to many bags so I often only take a rod bag and tackle/food bag.

Rod Bag

I use a Fox Royale Quiver Combo to store my rods in, also a Trakker Sanctuary Retention Sling, Wychwood net and Avid distance sticks all fit into it. The quiver comes with 3 separate zipped rod sleeves, allowing you to store rods and reels already set up and ready to cast out into the lake. The quiver is fully secure, includes useful handles for putting it in the car, plenty of pockets and is very lightweight and surprisingly compact.

Tackle/Food Bag

Continuing with the Fox Royal range, I use the Fox Royale Cooler Food Bag System to keep my food and tackle in. This bag is great from short sessions or if used just as a food bag it could keep you going for a few weeks. The bag comes with all the pockets you will need and includes a Fox branded cooking cutlery set too. The straps and handles are well-built and extremely padded and I highly recommend it.


For transporting my gear around I use the ever faithful Carp Porter MK2 barrow. Apart from replacing the original tyre with a puncture proof tyre, it’s been very reliable over the past 6/7 years. I probably will never replace it and just replace certain parts when they get too old and possibly give it a repaint job. I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a reliable barrow.


Wychwood Brolly
I mainly use my Wychwood Solace Oval Brolly as it’s super quick to set up, lightweight and compact.

If I’m doing a longer session, and need more room or it’s during the winter months I will use my Chub RS-Plus Max Bivvy. The Chub Bivvy is well-built, roomy, can withstand strong winds, includes a peaked extended roof and rod straps, which is great for changing your rigs quickly.


Cookware is another that’s really down to personal preference. I currently use a Fox stove and Wychwood compact kettle. Both small, compact and just work.

I don’t do a lot of cooking on the bank but I am contemplating purchasing a RidgeMonkey Toaster Pan, they look very simple to use and easy to clean.

Other useful tackle


carpfishingsetupThanks for reading My Carp Fishing Set up Part Two and I hope you found it useful in any way.

If you have any questions on my current carp fishing set up or would like to see us review a curtain item of tackle, please give us a comment below.

If you enjoy this guide please make sure you check out our other tackle guides, tackle reviews and carp fishing tips.

You can find us on our Facebook page for all the latest tackle news and reviews.

My Carp Fishing Setup 2017 Part 1 “Rods, Reels, Line and Indicators”

carp fishing setupThis week we take a look at my very own carp fishing setup. I’ve had plenty of emails recently asking me about what tackle I use for my own carp fishing so I needed to write this guide.

This guide will help newcomers to carp fishing and also help those experienced anglers that are looking to upgrade and change their current tackle set up.

I’ve been fishing for over 13 years now and have used a large range of tackle over the years.

In this guide I will show you the tackle I use, give you useful information and give you my honest opinions on each of my tackle items to help you not waste your money (like I have in the past).

This guide was originally going to be a single post but got too long so part two of this guide will be coming very soon so don’t forget to subscribe!

Thank you for reading and let’s get started…


wychwood c201 carp rods
The Wychwood C-201 3lb test curve rods are the latest addition to my current setup. They replaced my ever faithful JRC defender carp rods which I used for over 5 years. Why replace them you ask? Well I just fancied a change and I’ve always been a fan of cork handle rods but never owned cork handle carp rods.

These rods are thinner, lighter (half the weight) and look so much more stylish than my old JRC rods. I will be reviewing them as soon as I’ve used them for a few months, giving you a full honest review as usual.


shimano ultegra 14000 xtd
I recently added the Shimano Ultegra 14000 Xtd reels to my current setup replacing my old Wychwood Exorcist reels. These reels have to be the best looking reels for your money and are a joy to use. Super lightweight and spool off line on the cast with ease.

Check out the review for the Shimano Ultegra 14000 Xtd reels here.


gardner hd line
Recently switched to Gardner GT-HD line on recommendation from other anglers at my local club water. It’s a great line overall and especially good for weedy waters and when you need to sink the line quickly.

Rod Support/Indication

I’ve been a fan of the Fox Black Label range for while now, the banksticks, buzz bars and indicators look great. All the items in the range are well built and have been very reliable for over a year now.

These items are just personal preference but I would highly recommend them especially the the black label indicators. The indicators are are highly customisable suiting every type of fishing situation and comes in a large range of colours (I have purple ones!).

Bite Alarms

tfg-mag-runner-ignite-bite-alarms-receiverI’ve had my set of TFG Mag Runner Ignite Alarms for over 3 years now and to be brutally honest I would not recommend them to anyone.

Occasionally the battery slips from the back making the alarms unusable and the receiver only works when it wants to it seems and finding an instructions for them is impossible.

The only reason for not upgrading them is mainly down to not having the spare cash and these will be the next items I will be changing in my tackle set up. And for anyone wondering I have be looking at Delkims and Gardner ATT alarms as they seem to be reliable, well built bite alarms.


mirror carpThanks for reading My Carp Fishing Setup 2017 Part 1.

Make sure you check Part 2 next week as we will be exploring what other tackle I use in my own carp fishing such as shelters, luggage, cookware etc.

If you have any questions on my carp fishing setup, then please leave them in the comments below.

If you enjoyed this style of tackle guide and want to find more this, make sure you check out our other tackle guides, reviews and carp fishing tips.

Don’t forget to subscribe to our blog to receive our weekly posts sent straight to your email inbox, it’s easy we promise!

We would love to hear your feedback on our blog, what would you like us to cover next? A tackle guide? A tackle review? More tackle news? Feedback will help us improve our blog so please leave your feedback below.