With the unhooking mat being such a vital piece of equipment for the carp and specimen angler alike, there are literally hundreds of different styles and designs on the market. From seriously inadequate mats sold at bargain basement prices through to mats costing more than a mid-range rod, the angler has a decision to make and it is one that is not to be made lightly.
With most of the history fish in the UK now becoming “pensioners” in fish age terms, and day ticket waters now holding fish in excess of 50lb in some cases, the need for an unhooking mat with adequate protection is vital. We have seen a lot of unhooking mats at UKMA, but one that really took our fancy was the Cotswold Aquarius MK2 mat.
The Cotswold Aquarius MK2 Unhooking Mat has been designed to offer the maximum protection to the fish as well as being angler-friendly. The mat itself is nothing exciting in way of looks but offers superb protection to the fish on the bank and is first choice for a lot of serious anglers fishing for our history fish.
The MK2 Unhooking Mat has been constructed from a breathable material that is extremely fish friendly when wet. Housed inside the outer material is a thick piece of foam with 3 cubic feet of poly-balls placed on top of it. The foam protects the fish from any objects underneath the mat, where as the poly-balls will move when a fish is placed on the mat, encircling the fish as the pressure pushes the poly-balls outwards. This creates a “barrier” that alleviates the fish sliding off the mat should it flap unexpectedly. The more the fish moves, the more the poly-balls surround the fish.
The dimensions of the mat are a generous 45″ long by 32″ wide. This should be more than big enough for even the biggest carp that is swimming in the UK.
On the upper of the mat, Cotswold Aquarius have placed two half length flaps that velcro down on the actual mat itself. These can be used to secure the fish on the mat when transporting back to the water, zeroing scales, as well as to cover the fish very briefly to protect against the sun whilst picking up a carp care kit (although in an ideal world the carp care kit should be next to the mat already).
On the outside of one of the flaps is a pocket that it more than ample size to hold a sack, sling, scales or carp care kit/unhooking tools. Cotswold Aquarius have even gone to the effort of putting 4 pegging points on to the mat to secure it down in high winds or on slightly sloping banks.
The MK2 mat also has two webbing straps that enable easy two man transportation of heavy fish back to the water.
For transit or storage, the mat folds into two and is secured by 2 clip buckles. Attached to the clip buckles is another strap that makes it simplicity to carry even when laden with tackle.
We cannot promote proper fish care high enough when on the bank, and you cannot put a price on protecting our precious quarry, so we feel that the £94.99 selling price is an absolute bargain. I know that I will be using the Cotswold Aquarius MK2 Unhooking Mat everywhere that I go now without fail.
Overall, this unhooking mat offers the right protection to the fish when on the bank without being too bulky or heavy. A seriously impressive bit of kit that should be top of every anglers list when buying a new unhooking mat, and also made in England.