This is going to be a bit of a rant but, hopefully, also some clarity on our insistence that our cradles are used.
I am tired of reading comments from people suggesting that cradles are dangerous and cause damage to fish so here are the details of many years of experience.
For the first 4 years of owning this lake we allowed anglers to use floor mats, in fact we supplied floor mats with sides. During this period I saw fish dropped onto these mats and, no matter how much padding they had, I could hear the thump as the padding was squashed and the main impact was with the solid ground beneath. I also saw fish, and I admit that, because our fish are so fit, they are a nightmare on the bank, which would use the solid ground beneath the mat to flip themselves out and across the bank, causing damage to their sides.
Having watched these mini fiascos I decided to trial the, at the time, new cradles. My findings were that they were much more secure and that the fish could not get enough purchase from the suspended fabric to be able to get out of the cradle. There was also one other major benefit, while the fish was being held for the photo, there was much less distance for it to fall as the cradle fabric is above ground level.
Following those trials we bought and supply cradles for each angler and NEVER in the 12 years since, have we seen fish damaged. In fact they are in mint condition and are now approaching 80lbs. That is not a figure that can be reached if fish are not cared for properly.