This month, Jansen Teakle catches up with rod builder extraordinaire and top level match angler, Dai Llewellyn. Those of you who are passionate about their competition fishing will probably already be aware of this skilled match angler and his many accolades, but for those of you who are not, read on to find out just why this guy has such a rounded sea angling game. 

JT: Thanks for joining me today, Dai. So, how long have you been fishing for?

DL: No probs. Probably, somewhere around 37 years I believe. 

JT: Can you recall your first ever catch from the sea?

DL: The first fish I caught was a pouting on Penarth Pier. I hold that memory fresh as if it was yesterday. I think it took me about five minutes to reel it up the side of the pier, swinging it back and forth forever. I remember my brother in stitches laughing as I was shorter than the railings and couldn’t see what was happening!

On its day the pier is a great venue if fished right, a recent open was won from there. It’s not like it used to be though, I remember fishing matches as a kid on there and handing in three full cards of fish. Sadly you will never see those days again.

JT: What brought you to the sport in the first place?

DL: Me and the kids in the street, we had a stream in Dinas Powys where we used to catch brown trout and eels. Also, my big Brother Huw used to take me to Penarth Marina and Penarth Pier. Then my Mum would take me to Roath Park lake after school on a Thursday. It was a scheme ran by Gary Evans’ fishing tackle shop and hosted by the late great Colin Cook. That man taught me so much.

These humble beginnings really are a common theme!

JT: Who inspired you and who did you look up to in those early days?

DL: As a kid growing up I looked up to my brother, after all it was his tackle I was always pinching. He opened the gateway into the world of angling for me and planted that very hungry seed that went on to develop into a religion-like passion for all elements of angling. As I got a bit older it was the same names you would see week in, week out. 

Alan Yates, Jimmy Jones, Neil Mackellow, Clive Vedmore etc. I never knew any of them at that age, but they were the people I’d see in the magazines every single month. When I was a teen I would regularly ride to Lavernock Point on my bike and sit and watch Clive Mullet fishing. He would tell me snippets of info, but I don’t think he knew just how influential those times really  were to me.

JT: Any others that spring to mind?

DL: The biggest influence’s throughout my fishing without doubt have always been the people who have been there fishing with me. I was never taken under anyone’s wing, everything I’ve accomplished has all been through trial and error off my own back.

I’ve never gone looking to be spoon fed anything. Individual’s who joined me when I was younger such as Dan Paskell, Luke Morgan, Neil Bragg and currently Lewis Hobrow and Lee Gurd who are with me, week in week out pushing me to get the best out of life. Most importantly, over the last two years, my wife, Emma. She’s fantastic and has always supported my dreams and objectives in Life. 

Behind every man is a great woman….

JT: What are your earliest recollections of match fishing?

DL: I remember winning the first match I entered on Penarth Pier when I was about seven, I won the junior section with a whiting and a pout. I’ve never looked back. I fished club and regional matches until I was 20 with a lot of successful years but I didn’t have the right people to take me further so I stepped away and spent every week specimen hunting and taking people fishing to catch their first trophy fish, the early form of guiding I guess. Then about seven years ago, I fancied another bite of the cherry and started fishing matches again. I’ve had a fantastic four years, winning the Dow league three years on the bounce, several open wins…. My current shore league team is incredible- Roy Tapper, Dan Crump, Chris Equal, Nigel Putbrace, Adam Farmer, Steve Roberts and myself- we had a good year last year winning the East Region League. 

JT: What would you personally class as your biggest wins?

DL: My best match achievement’s would be winning the Sea Master Title two years back to back, which had never been done in the 41 years it’s been running. To say I was buzzing is an understatement.

JT: What is your motivation to fish now?

DL: Easy question- people motivate me. They push and inspire me everyday. Hundred’s and hundred’s of thirsty anglers put their faith in me every year to provide them with whatever they need. It’s my job to do my absolute best for them. Everyone is as important as the last. People are the main element in every factor of life, without people nothing else matter’s. It doesn’t matter if you’re referring to family, friends, mates, work colleague’s or customers, if you can’t put others before yourself at times then there’s no value to a life like that.

Dai runs a nationally renowned rod building business from his home in south Wales. ‘Angling Ambition’ has a large social media following and it’s well worth taking a look at his Instagram page in particular where he showcases his exceptional work.

JT: You strike me as a very ‘people person’, but I’m guessing there are times when you enjoy the peace and quiet that fishing can offer alone?

DL: Ironically my pleasure fishing is often done far away from the popular venues and the crowds. I love the isolation and feeling of freedom with not another angler in sight except for the few people that you’re with. We all need a release and mine comes when all I can hear is the sound of the wind and waves and not other angler’s shouting because of another crack off (Laughs raucously).

JT: So where would be your favourite place to fish?

DL: My favourite place to fish would be anywhere where the fish are hungry. You never want it too easy though; I enjoy having to work for my rewards. Seriously though, I love West Aberthaw and Saint Donats. 

JT: So as far as fish go, what would be the catches that mean the most to you?

DL: I don’t know about biggest fish achievement’s, I don’t actually keep a record of personal best catches. A few years back i found a 26lb angler fish washed up alive and  even though I didn’t catch it, it was still pretty unusual and a bit special. I’ve been lucky enough to catch a lot of good fish. I’ve had a stinger in south Wales around 20lb, maybe three spottie’s over 6lb, 20lb+ blonde, countless 20lb+ eels and numerous big bags of rays, hounds and codling. I miss my silver eel fishing though. I used to love targeting them when i was younger. Now i love my hound and conger fishing, unless it’s in a match I very rarely go fishing for rays. I’ve been to Norway three times between 2006 and 2010 and caught some huge fish over there. That place is magic.

JT: What tackle are you currently most fond of?

DL: Obviously working along side Anyfish Anywhere is a dream come true, as an angler and a rod builder. I’m a very privileged person in many regards. I love my Remastered Tournament Rocks, Grand Prix’s and MK2 Tournament Match Pro’s. Reel wise, I use 30 size Daiwa SHA and SHV multipliers for most of my fishing, with a few 20 sized reels too. On the field you cant beat an old Abu 6500 though. I like Asso and Maxima lines, and use a wide range of hooks from various manufacturers.

JT: As a match angler you’ll hate this one, but if you could only use one bait, what would it be?

DL: Only one bait? As a frozen bait it would have to be sandeel, as a live bait ragworm. Both are superb baits if the fish are hungry. Again I am fortunate to have had the support of Ammo Baits for many years now. Ian Tyldesley has always looked after me well with good quality frozen bait.

JT: What are your feelings about social media?

DL: Social media is fantastic for my business so I can’t complain. In general it’s not going anywhere so if you’ve got a problem with it, you’re screwed (said with a snigger). 

But on a serious note, I love to see people do well and achieve things, reach their goals. It’s amazing. Proud parents or beaming anglers, bring it on, it’s all positive, I love it. 

We should lift each other up as much as we can, the world can be a gloomy place as it is so shine some light on someone and make them smile.

What a great mindset!

JT: So what would you say are your pet hates?

DL: Pet hates in fishing would be litter and antisocial behaviour in public places. 

Litter in angling is an area I’ve pushed and targeted locally to try and make a difference to improve our environment and the public perception of how the angling community looks here. We even set up a Facebook page, on good old social media!

JT: Thanks for your time today Dai, it’s been great talking with you and I think a lot of anglers would benefit from taking your thought’s on board.

DL: No problem buddy.

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