marble trout (Psalm marmoratus) inhabit an extremely small range, restricted to only a few rivers in the Adriatic Basin in Europe. Their rarity makes them a coveted catch for many fly anglers who travel from all over the world to check this species off their wish lists. During a recent trip to Slovenia, I was fortunate enough to hunt marble trout in the stunning Soča Valley, a dream I had harbored for more than a decade prior to that fateful day. Ultimately I was successful, but there were a few aspects of fishing that surprised even a well-travelled trout angler. If you’re considering, or maybe just dreaming of, a trip, here are three pieces of advice that have ultimately served me well.
1. Hire a guide
While I often enjoy fishing for trout myself, hiring a guide for my day chasing marble trout proved to be an excellent decision. I went with Nina Kramar, the chief guide of the hotel recommended by Orvis Krka River Lodge. Licensing can be a little tricky in Slovenia, but she sorted that process out before we even got on the water. Thanks to her local contacts we had access to areas that were off limits to the general public and she knew the best spots to focus on which saved us a lot of valuable time when looking for fish. Speaking of which, marbled trout turns out to be quite difficult to spot and often sit in unexpected places – namely shallow, featureless grooves – that I might otherwise have walked right past without expert guidance.
2. Bring two rods
Slovenia prohibits the use of multiple hooks on a single line and restricts anglers to only fishing one fly at a time. Without the ability to use a dry/dropper rig you will have to switch back and forth between a nymph and a dry fly fairly frequently throughout the day. If you only have one rod you will either have to change hooklengths every time or settle for a tapered hooklength for flat nymph fishing or a flat line for dry fly presentation, neither of which are ideal. Instead, bring a dry fish rod and a separate nymph rod that you can swap out in seconds without having to re-rig. I recommend using softer action rods here to protect the very light tips (5x-7x) that you must use in such clear water.
3. Stay late
Marble trout belong to the same genus as brown trout and appear to behave in a similar way. Expect them to be more active at dawn and dusk and spend much of the midday heat sulking out of sight. My guide suggested that we split our day into a morning and evening shift, with a long, leisurely lunch break in between. While it was admittedly difficult to get off the river at first, it was crucial that we had a chance to rest and recover before evening sunrise so we could get back in the water fresh and ready to go. And the marbles didn’t disappoint: I caught more fish in the last hour of the day than I did all day, and all with dry flies. If your schedule allows, try to set your pace so that you can keep going until sunset.
Evan Jones is Associate Editor of the Orvis Fly Fishing blog.