Travelog – Slovenia

As group of four friends we decided that we would like to go on an organized fishing trip to Eastern Europe and Pete Wesson was nominated as researcher. After scouring the Internet he came back with an attractive package that was offered by Kevin Smith of Slovenia Fly Fishing, who was based near the Soĉa valley in the Region of Goriska located in North Western Slovenia, close to the Austrian and Italian borders. We whetted our appetites by looking at the on-line videos and we were fascinated with the footage of anglers catching marble trout and the huchen. Reputedly, the marble trout can grow up to 25kgs in weight. We learnt that the other species included adriatc grayling, brown trout and rainbow trout.

Rivers of  Slovenia

The Goriska region is dominated by the Julian Alps which are a mountain range of the Southern Limestone Alps that stretches from northeastern Italy to Slovenia, and when we arrived in late May the mountains were still snow-capped. The unusually hot weather caused a snow melt which swelled the rivers, making some of them difficult to fish but because the Soĉa has a number of significant tributaries, there was always somewhere to be found where the conditions were suitable. The rivers are stunning, running through narrow gorges in the limestone, with impressive, deep, bright blue pools and rushing torrents but generally the water was crystal clear.

In Slovenia a single fly only must be used in all the rivers that we fished and for most of the time we used mainly dry flies and found that curiously white flies were easier to follow than others with more vivid colours such as pink klinkhamers (authors favourite go to fly). However, in the deeper pools a very heavy, weighted, nymph was more successful. For this purpose we used a pheasant tail version with two 4mm tungsten beads tied onto a jig hook and fished with a sight indicator, made from backing braid and greased up with mucilin. Dry and sinking stone fly imitations also worked well as did streamers, with rainbows in the fast water.
Michael in Soca
(Above) For two of the days we fished the Upper Soča on a tributary called the Lepena just above the confluence of the two rivers. This was located in the Triglav National Park with stunning views of the mountains and a variety of fast flowing water and deep pools.
(Below) In one spot, aptly named The Goldfish Bowl, the water gushed through a narrow channel into a deep hole with a back eddy, which was very difficult to fish. However, by throwing a weighted nymph upstream and allowing it to fall through the turbulent water I succeeded in catching a large brownie and then Michael took a turn and caught a very fine marble trout.

The Gold Fish Bowl

Marble TroutMichael with the marble trout, caught in the Goldfish Bowl

In the same area, on the main Upper Soča river just before the Lepena joins it we fished another stunning pool where we saw marble and brown trout holding in the fast currents caused by the narrow restriction of the gorge.

The Gorge

Here Pete lost a few fish, including a fairly large marble trout, however, on a return visit to the same location some days later, Pete managed to catch a marble trout and Michael caught a rainbow.

On two other separate occasions and in different locations, we had some very enjoyable sport fishing for grayling and succeeded in catching very large numbers (30 plus in my case and this included some reasonable sized fish). The successful fly was the Duck’s Dun; a pattern invented by a friend of mine Dave Collins, which he presented to the Hereford Branch of the Fly Dresser’s Guild at one of our meetings.

John catching graylingJohn landing a grayling in the river Sora, a tributary of the Soča, near to Ziri – Photograph by Peter Wyle

Some parts of the river Soča are quite spectacular and offer lots of different opportunities to the fly fisher. The main river can be quite wide and fast flowing in some places and call for heavier tackle and flies.

IMG_1185Peter Wyles playing a rainbow trout in the Soča – one of the several that he caught fishing minky booby streamer – Photograph by Kevin Smith

Fact File

Fly to Venice, Trieste or Ljubliano. British Airways fly to Venice which is a 2½ hour drive to Tolmin and they allow up to 23kg hold luggage plus two cabin bags. With other carriers the hold luggage cost can be expensive.

Transfers, guiding, accommodation, great food and entertaining company provided by Kevin and Rosalie of Slovenia Fly Fishing (Tel: 00386 51 209 849) email

The fishing is controlled by fishing clubs who sell day tickets for €50 – €59. Tolmin Fishing club control most of the rivers in the Soĉa valley.

Tackle: a ♯2 10ft rod and double taper line is suitable for most of the rivers, however a ♯6 weight rod is better for the wider, main, Soča river or in situations where roll-casting and Spey-casting is necessary due to limited back cast space.

Best flies: ducks dun, double-headed pheasant nymph, stone fly sinking and floating patterns, white and back streamer patters.

Ducks DunDuck’s Dun

Double 4mm bead nymphDouble 4mm tungsten bead pheasant tail nymph

Weighted Stone FlyWeighted stone fly

There is a drive on/drive off car train service from Most na Soči to Bohinjska Bistrica, which takes approximately ½ hour and passes under Mount Rodica, through and impressive 6km tunnel. This gives access to Sava Bohinjka, a tributary of the Sava, and Lake Bohinj. Here we found some great grayling fishing.
Nymph Rig

Nymph rig.

A selection of other pictures…

Miha catching GraylingOur guide Miha catching a grayling in the Sora

IMG_1183Fishing for rainbows in the Soča – Photograph by Kevin Smith

IMG_1182Peter Wyles with a rainbow trout from the Soča – Photograph by Kevin Smith

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