If you’re looking for a picture-perfect fishing trip, you won’t find anything more scenic than fly fishing in Slovenia. Tucked away in the corner of the Adriatic, Slovenia may not even be on your radar as a fishing destination. But if you’re after stunning scenery, complex waterways, and a huge variety of game fish to target, pack a bag – Slovenia just made the top of your travel list.
What makes fly fishing in Slovenia so special? What can you catch, and where should you go to do it? You’ll find the answers to all these questions and more in this short guide.
You may be wondering what makes Slovenia so much better than other European fly fishing spots. The country is beautiful, sure, but so are all the countries around it. Well, there are several strong reasons to visit Slovenia. For starters, variety. It may be small, but Slovenia really packs a lot in. Fast alpine rivers, classic chalk streams, calm lakes – it’s got it all.
Variety is the spice of life, but reliability is the real winner in Slovenia’s rivers. These mountain-fed waters stay cold all summer long, making them high in oxygen and low in nutrients. What this means is that the fish are always active, hungry, and looking to demolish anything that comes their way.
What to Catch While Fly Fishing in Slovenia
So what can you catch? Quite a lot. Slovenia is home to half a dozen different salmonids, as well as a variety of other predatory fish. What you hook depends on when and where you fish, but here are some of the top species you can expect to come across.
Marble Trout are the star of the show on most Slovenian fly fishing trips. It’s easy to see why. This rare Trout species has plenty of fight with some impressive looks to boot. They only live in a handful of rivers around the northern Adriatic coast. Slovenia is right in the middle of their range, making it the perfect place to look for them. The average catch in Slovenia is just under 2 feet long, but they can hit double that on occasion.
Marble Trout aren’t Slovenia’s only local specialty. The Huchen is just as rare and even more impressive to look at. Also known as “Danube Salmon,” these monsters only live in the Danube River and its tributaries. Huchen can grow to well over 4 feet and there are reports of catches weighing over 100 pounds in the past. Small wonder, considering they’re a close relative of the legendary Taimen of Mongolia.
Brown Trout need no introduction among fly fishers. This is the fish that the technique was invented for! Slovenian Brown Trout are mainly in the 18-inch range, although some real monsters do show up from time to time. They live in rivers and lakes all over Slovenia, making them a go-to catch on many fishing trips.
There’s some debate as to whether there are one or two Graylings in Slovenia. Many people treat Adriatic Grayling as a separate species, while others think it’s a regional variety of European Grayling. One thing that everyone can agree on is that they’re both great fun to fish for!
Grayling live in various mountain rivers in Slovenia, reaching around 12–18 inches on average. They may not be the biggest, but their tall dorsal fin and dramatic color variations more than make up for it.
Rainbow Trout aren’t native to Slovenia, or even to Europe in general. They come from the West Coast of America, but have become a much-loved addition to fisheries all over the world. Slovenia is no exception. Rainbow Trout show up in rivers all around the country. Most Rainbow Trout are in the 18-inch range, but fish well over 2 feet aren’t uncommon.
Brook Trout are another of Slovenia’s non-native favorites. They’re technically a species of Char, so they love the country’s cold, clean streams. Brook Trout have been known to get friendly with the locals, breeding with native Brown Trout populations to create hybrid Tiger Trout. These are a rare catch in the wild but a real feather in the cap of any fly fisher that hooks one.
And So Much More!
Fly fishing purists may prefer to focus on the salmonids, but they’re only the tip of the iceberg in Slovenia’s varied waters. Ferocious Northern Pike, super-sized Carp, and even the occasional Zander shows up here. And that’s without even getting started on the country’s saltwater fly bite (think Little Tunny and Bluefish). There seems to be no end to Slovenia’s fly fishing hit list.
Top Fly Fishing Spots in Slovenia
You know what you can expect on the end of your line, but where should you go to catch it? Honestly, there are no bad rivers in Slovenia, but some waters really take things to the next level. Here are a few spots you absolutely have to hit while you’re in the country. It’s a good thing they’re all so close to each other, because there are plenty of choices!
If you’re after a classic alpine river, you won’t find better than the Soča (pronounced “socha”). Carving a winding path through the mountains and forests of the Julian Alps, the Soča River is beautiful even by Slovenian standards.
The Soča isn’t just nice to look at. It has plenty going on beneath the surface, with Marble Trout, Grayling, Rainbow Trout, and more. If you somehow get bored of the main river, there are countless small tributaries offering a real mix of different fishing conditions.
The Soča may be Slovenia’s best alpine river, but the Unec (also known as the Unica) is the country’s favorite chalk stream fishery. It’s also one of the most mysterious, running most of its length underground and only surfacing for around 6 miles before disappearing again. The Unec is short, but its incredible dry fly fishing for Grayling and Brown Trout make it well worth a visit.
The Sava runs for over 600 miles through four different countries before it finally merges with the Danube. In Slovenia, it goes from clear mountain stream to wide rushing river, and you can find fish along the entire length of it.
The river starts in the Julian Alps. it begins in two halves, the “Sava Dolinka” and the “Sava Bohinjka” (pronounced “boh hingka”). Both of these streams boast some of Europe’s best Grayling fishing, along with a solid Rainbow and Brown Trout bite. As the streams join, you get into productive waters for the infamous Huchen. You can pick your fishery by how far downstream you go.
So Slovenia is only good for rivers? Not at all! There are dozens of lakes around the country and they’re all full of fish. None of them compare to Bled for sheer beauty, though. Calm waters, lush green nature, church spire poking up from the island in the middle – Bled is something right out of a fairytale. And it’s more than just pretty. Lake Bled Carp fishing is outstanding, and you can find Pike, Zander, and Rainbow Trout here, too.
The Idrijca (pronounced “eedreetsa”) offers a mixture of freestone and chalk stream that will put even experienced anglers to the test. This is a fishery that rewards experimentation. The fish here are famously fussy and local guides build up an arsenal of tricks to get the most out of the river.
There’s plenty to get out of it, that’s for sure. The Idrijca is a fantastic place to catch Marble Trout, as well as Brown and Rainbow Trout for some extra variety. Just be prepared for a lot of trial and error as you get the hang of these waters.
The Adriatic Sea
Most of the fly fishing in Slovenia is freshwater but there are also some amazing catches waiting in the sea. The country may have been short-changed when it comes to its coastline, but whatever it lacks in length it more than makes up for in action. Head out into the Gulf of Trieste and you can try for Leerfish, Seabass, False Albacore, Mahi Mahi, and so much more. It’s well worth bringing a saltwater reel for.
Top Tips for Fly Fishing in Slovenia
You’re almost ready to start your fly fishing adventure – but don’t head out the door quite yet! We’ve still got a few more tips to keep your trip fun and hassle-free.
When to Go Fly Fishing in Slovenia
Most anglers visit Slovenia in the summer months of July and August, and the best spots can get pretty crowded this time of year. However, the summer isn’t necessarily the best time to visit. You can enjoy great fishing every month of the year in Slovenia. The difference lies in what you’ll catch.
The season for Trout and Grayling runs roughly from April through November. Grayling actually bite best in autumn, so you can beat the crowds and the heat by visiting this time of year. When Trout season ends, Huchen season starts. Huchen fishing is open from November through the end of February. The winters are cold in Slovenia, so bring your thickest pair of waders!
Most other fish can be caught year round, except Pike, which are in season May–February. The best time for saltwater fly fishing is autumn. The water is warm, the weather is cool, and the sea is full of Mahi Mahi, Bluefish, Leerfish, and Seabass.
How to Get a Slovenian Fishing License
Slovenian fishing licenses can seem a little complicated at first. Different rivers and lakes need specific licenses. You need to pick what you’re targeting and whether you’ll release it. On top of all that, some spots only allow certain techniques (luckily, fly fishing is the most common).
Why so complicated? Each fishery is managed by different people. Important rivers are controlled by the Fisheries Research Institute of Slovenia, while smaller spots are managed by private fishing clubs, or “fishing families.”
Don’t panic. Getting a license is easier than it sounds. The Fisheries Research Institute of Slovenia sells fishing licenses on their website. You can buy permits for most club-managed fisheries online, too. To make things even simpler, guide services will usually sort this all out for you if you’re on an organized tour.
How to Get Around Slovenia
The easiest way to explore Slovenia is by car, especially if you’re fishing the more remote mountain streams. Driving isn’t always the best option, though, since the cost of car hire can add up. Even more so if you’re looking for an automatic.
As long as you’re not heading too far off the beaten track, traveling by train can be just as fast as driving and a lot less expensive. It’s also a great way to relax and take in Slovenia’s stunning countryside while you make your plan for the day’s fishing. You can find information and timetables in English on the Slovenian Railways website.
What to Pack for a Slovenian Fly Fishing Holiday
The thing that makes fly fishing in Slovenia so much fun is the amount of variety the country packs in. Expect world-class dry flying and incredible nymphing within the same stretch of river and you won’t be disappointed. Throw in the country’s saltwater bite, and you have more options than you’ll know what to do with. This is great for the fishing, but bad for your baggage allowance.
If you’re traveling light, a good all-rounder is a 9’–9’6” 5 wt rod with a matching reel and floating line. If you’re after large Marble Trout or Huchen, switch up to an 8 wt. Making space for two rods will give you a lot more options, as you can bring a short dry fly rod and a longer nymphing setup. One thing you will need is a pair of waders, although you can often rent these if you’re short on space.
You won’t need anything revolutionary in terms of flies. Stick to the classics like Caddis, BWOs, and Wooly Buggers and you should be fine. In fact, having different sizes and colors is more useful than carrying a specific fly or pattern. Bringing along heavier line and flies for deep-water nymphing can also be a game-changer.
Fly Fishing Heaven
This phrase gets thrown around a lot, but Slovenia really does have it all. Where else can you find such a variety of fisheries so close together? What other place has six different salmonids tagging each other out all year round? There’s honestly too much to cover at once, and the best way to know it is to live it. So next time you’re planning a fly fishing adventure, why not check out Slovenia?
Have you ever gone fly fishing in Slovenia? Which of the country’s fish would you most like to catch? Let us know in the comments below, we would love to hear your stories!