A great talk with local guide Uros Kristan about the best times of the season, the waters, gear and spots in order to have the right information before making a trip to this fly-fishing paradise.
Fd: What are the best months for visiting Slovenia?
Uros: The best months for fly fishing are definitely in spring (April and May), with early summer coming in a close second (June and early July). Late summer (September) is a really good time to catch trophy-sized trout, but it is also good to mention that fishing in September can also be quite tricky. Fall (October and November) is best suited for trophy grayling and pike. Lastly, the winter months (December, January and February) are reserved for the king of our waters, the Huchen.
Fd: Which are the rivers and places you usually visit?
Uros: I personally prefer slow flowing karst rivers (chalk streams) that are located in the central parts of Slovenia. These include the best grayling and brown trout river in Slovenia Unica, the beautiful river Krka with its gorgeous green color and deep pools that can hide fish of monstrous proportions, the lovely marsh river Ljubljanica and the mysterious river Bistra with its untapped fishing potential. In Slovenia it is also impossible not to fall in love with our alpine beauties such as the emerald daughter of the Alps, Soca with its marble trout or Sava Bohinjka that runs from the lake Bohinj past the Lake Bled and with the river Sava Dolinka joins into the mighty river Sava, and is definitely one of the top-five fly fishing rivers in Slovenia. Next one on my list would definitely be Radovna with its crystal clear water and beautiful brown trout.
There are also so many more Slovenia gems like the river Savinja, that runs through one of the most picturesque valleys in Slovenia; Trziska Bistrica, Tolminka, Idrijca hiding some of the biggest marble trout ever caught and countless more, smaller and lesser known, rivers that are no less interesting for fly fishing. Living in Slovenia, with its small size, I have the privilege to be able to fish on so many incredible, unspoiled and diverse rivers, some of which are among the best in Europe, if not the world.
Fd: Can you tell us how the daily program is when fishing over there?
Uros: Our normal routine is that we start with the fishing early in the morning and stop later in the evening after waiting for the evening hatch. In summer time, especially in the hottest days it is better or preferable to make a short break when the sun is at its highest. This is in part for preserving the well-being of the angler and also the fish. This situation can be also turned totally around on any of the alpine rivers, where the water is always cold and the temperature of the air is comfortable, also in the hottest times of the day.
When guiding, our daily fishing program usually starts around 7 or 8 in the morning when we fish for around 3 to 4 hours. After that usually comes a time for a short break or lunch before fishing another 4 to 5 hours. Timetables can vary greatly depending on the time of the year, weather, wat
er levels and, of course, most depending on the wishes of our guests.
Fd: What is the recommend gear for a trip to those waters?
Uros: If you are not willing to take a lot of gear with you, I would recommend a good 5wt 9ft rod with the appropriate reel and floating line as that is the most universal rig and can be applied in almost any situation. For a little more demanding angler, I recommend carrying two rods: one set up for dry fly fishing and the other for nymphing. Slovenian rivers demand a lot of times regular changes of fishing styles and this helps greatly in saving time while doing so.
One example would be a 3wt 8ft rod for dry fly fishing for smaller streams and a longer 10 to 11ft 3 to 4wt rod for Czech or French nymphing. For grayling, any good 4 to 5wt rod will suffice and for trout up to 6wt if we are also using smaller and middle sized streamers. For the biggest fish like pike, Huchen or even larger marble trout and casting of larger streamers, we recommend 8 to 10wt rods.
I personally like it when my guests bring with them rods they feel most comfortable with. We see a lot of times, when people are using gear that they are not used to, they can have a lot of problems, especially with setting the hook on strikes. A lot of our guests are surprised with the speed of the strike from Slovenian fish, especially when dry fly fishing. It is rare while fishing in Slovenia that you will need extremely long casts, but it would be recommended to have good knowledge in roll cast, side cast or any other more technical cast as this is important in most cases because of the configurations of the rivers (heavy vegetation on river banks, tight gorges, etc.).
Fd: Which flies should always be present in our boxes when fishing in Slovenia?
Uros: Most of our guests are surprised about how fish here are not really that extremely picky regarding flies, this can be seen mostly in spring after the fish spawn, as they are ready to take almost any fly, including quite large-sized ones. The more we move into summer and fall, the pickier the fish become and we have to put a lot more time into choosing the correct size and colour of the fly.
In general, you can never go wrong with some of the classics or “must have” flies. These are Caddis flies, Klinkhammers, Redtags (Which fly), ants, buzzers, BWOs and many others. For nymphing, the perfect flies are caddis nymphs, Pheasant Tails, Hare’s Ears, scuds, BWO nymphs, Ritz-d’s, Princes, Tommy nymphs. All the flies should be in a few different sizes and, if possible, colors too. You should also carry a few heavier nymphs for fishing in deep pools with strong currents, where fish tend to stay at the bottom.
Streamers should mostly be in brown, dark green, black, gray and also white colors. The streamers that are always successful are Muddler Minnows, Woolly Buggers, Zonkers…
Fd: Do you have any other tips or advice for the ones planning a trip to your home waters?
Uros: Plan your trip well and plan it well ahead, best even a few months before the actual trip. Always look for a good and reliable guide that can help you with all the necessary information even before the trip. When you do visit our beautiful country he will help you make your fly fishing experience memorable, stress free and as pleasant as possible. A guide can be invaluable in putting you in the most optimal conditions for having a great time fishing and landing a fish.
Ask beforehand what kind of gear you need, check the weather prognosis and dress accordingly. It is always good to have a good waterproof jacket no matter the time of the year. Dress warmly in spring and fall, and always have enough clothes with you in case you ever get wet.
In general, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about food, drinks and accommodation as the offer in Slovenia is quite extensive. The question of accommodations should always be answered before the trip, for which you can ask your guide for help to find the most optimal solution for you. If by any chance you forget a piece of equipment or need flies, tippets or any other accessories, there are quite a few fishing stores where you can buy or rent equipment, everything can also be provided directly by your guide. My preference is to pick up and drop off my guests from the airport at the beginning and end of their trip, but you always have the option of renting a car for more autonomy.
In Slovenia the distances are never long and you reach most destinations and rivers driving within an hour, more or less. The roads are good and well-marked and most people know at least one of the most talked languages, so communication should not pose too much of a problem. The one thing I wish for you the most, regardless if you come for a guided trip or if you organize your own trip, is not to rush too much and just take your time enjoying our unspoiled nature, clear rivers and many wild fish, as you are in for an unforgettable adventure.
Thanks and tight lines!
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