Fishing with Tomaz Modic, the wizard inventor of the Tom’s Working series of flies, including the estimable Nymph or TWN, the Curse of Slovenian trout and trout world-wide is always hardcore. The intensity and enjoyment are unrelenting and full of revelations. You suddenly find that a roll cast on a 3 weight to get into the shade on the other side of the Sava Bohinjka is actually feasible and the fish is on. So it was especially satisfying having Tom switch to one of my flies, and have so many decent trout on it, that the poor abused fly finally needed to be bent back into shape after well more than 10 fish taken.

The river was the Savinja-Ljubno, an alpine river impeccably looked after by the Ljubno ob Savinji flyfishing club and its energetic president Gregor. The fly was the quill-bodied Klinkhammer tied on the Partridge Klink Extreme #16. Tied with Orange Aerowing, grizzle or badger hackle, a body of either grizzle rooster hackle quill and varnished or stripped peacock quill epoxied, and a peacock herl or ice dub thorax, the pattern proved irresistible, to rising fish or while prospecting.

The Ljubno stretch is extensive, with parts well-known for large trophy rainbows. We were after browns and Gregor kindly pointed us to stretch of the river, which I shall not landmark, where we had no company at all, and just the sort of fish we were after.

About 90% of the fish that we raised were brown trout, yellow-golden with colored edges to their fins, and tails and fins intact and unscarred. Fishing barbless, the takes on the Klinkhammer Extreme hooks were smashing, and the unique shape of the hook bend has unparalleled holding power. It was classic dry fly fishing, long upstream casts or reach casts under the bankside cover. Challenging enough to require effort and focus, but rewarding beyond measure. The fish of the day was Tom’s 68.8cm bruiser of a rainbow, but the brownies were the jewels.

The fishing reports for the Idrijca river were unpromising with low flows and strong sunshine. But it is one of the most memorable rivers I have fished and I couldn’t resist the challenge. There were very few fisherman out, because conditions were tough and the tickets expensive, but a proper days fishing should promise something, and guarantee nothing. The morning session was devoted to winkling spooky fish out of the shade, in low flows, presenting the unweighted TWN on a painfully long leader (7X) without an indicator, for an induced take. Tom is the master of that game and The Curse of Slovenian Trout Incarnate. To my surprise, even I could be encouraged to find the rare and hungry village idiots among the trout population and rainbows, and browns, but no spooky marbles yielded to the TWN.

This nymph is a masterful baetis mimic, and I have them from size 12-20 as my go to mayfly nymph anywhere in the world. As this is Tom’s fly, the tying procedure and reference can be found here:

The key to the pattern is the taper. Tom uses Olive 8/0 thread, ties in a tail of black rooster hackle fibers, a rib of 3/0 black thread is tied in, the olive thread then used to build a tapered abdomen. A 2-3 mm strip of neoprene is used for the wing-case, and a pronounced dubbed rabbit thorax in olive-brown.

Moving upstream, we began to spot nice fish in shallow water with some feeding activity, so I switched to the attractor dry fly par excellence, the subtle daddy long-legs on a #6-8 2X-long dry fly hook. For my flybox, the Partridge CS42 bomber hook is perfect.

Left-over badger dry fly hackle tip wings are tied in spent, a waterproof micro-chenille or rooster hackle quill abdomen, 3 pheasant tail knotted legs trailing are tied in on each side of the thorax, then the badger hackle from the thorax forward. The badger hackle gives a wonderful dark emphasis to the thorax. Floating in the surface film, the Daddy elicited slashing strikes, and a 22 inch rainbow, a “small“ 19.5 inch European grayling, and the Indrijca grayling trophy of 21.5 inches were brought to hand and released successfully. On a 3 weight rod with 6X tippet, the larger fish took me into the backing.

Yet again, Slovenia proved to be the flyfisher’s dreamland. My thanks to Tom for his incomparable fishing skills and his generosity on the stream – a true fisherman and friend.

Hugh Rosen

Hugh Rosen lives in San Diego, California, which is 400 miles from his favourite Eastern Sierra trout streams. He began fly fishing in the early 1980s while a university student in his native South Africa. He retains a life-long affection for the Kloof streams of the Cape, and for dry flies of his youth, especially the RAB. He learnt to tie flies from that great exponent of Catskill tying, Matt Grobert in Summit, NJ, and has tied flies with harmless obsessive intensity ever since.

Hugh enjoys the camaraderie of fly tying and  sharing photographs with the community by troubling billions of electrons on social media.  He combines a love of trout stream biology with his day job  as a medical scientist and Professor at The Scripps Research Institute and has travelled for science and fishing to England, Wales, Austria, Slovenia, North America and Australia. He has a well established reputation as a world class shrubber, and were he to fish a stream devoid of any  shrubbery except the smallest bonsai, he would lose almost every fly in his possession to that miniscule sapling. Together with his colleagues, he discovered a treatment for autoimmune diseases most notably multiple sclerosis, for therapeutics is just a variation on fly fishing.