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Una Hucho Pool near Bosanska Krupa

The Una

A mighty river with many faces

The mighty and usually crystal clear, deep river with his unmistakeable colour and the almost unique structural variety passes many cascades and spreads into various side arms before it finally runs into Sava river. On its way the rivers Unac and Krka join Una. Its head waters are a true paradise for trout and grayling and below Bihać the mighty hucho can be caught, too . A total of 26 fish species are abundant in its waters.

The Una belongs to the most beautiful rivers in Europe and is one of the pearls of the Balkans. The mighty river arises in the national park in the border area between Bosnia and Croatia. On his run he takes up the water of the rivers Krka and Unac and flows as a mighty river in the direction of north. Below Bihac the Una is very deep at many places and from the shore graylings and Danube Salmon are difficult to reach, because the river has an immense dynamism. It is fast and often beyond 10 m deep. So the best way to fish Una in and below the canyon is by boat. Fishing the river from the very narrow and breakable looking boats of the locals is possible, however it doesn't suit everyone. Fishermen of the Alpine countries and Scandinavia who are used to a good security level and comfort feel not really safe fishing from these unsafe floating devices. The new Una Riverside Lodge that will open in March 2019 will change that.

The Una in Bosanska Krupa
The Una in Bosanska Krupa

Fishing for Danube Salmon (Hucho hucho)

Between Bihać and Bosanska Otoka the mighty Danube Salmon (Hucho hucho) is the main target species. The hot spots are situated in the Una canyon and below. As there are big numbers of noses, chub and other whitefishes abundant in the river, the hucho density can be regarded as extremely high. Some pools are the home of 50 and more huchos in all sizes. The spawning works well, so huchos from 1-3 kg live there together with huge fish up to 30 kg. They younger ones live in different parts of the pools to avoid being eaten.

To be honest this part of the Una river is not really suitable for fly fishing, because it is too deep and fast and streamers exceeding 10 g of weight cannot be cast by using the fly line as the casting weight. 10g is the maximum even with a 750 grain Rio i-Flight and a double hand rod. Unfortunately with this streamer weight you will hardly ever come near the bottom.

You might see fishermen with fly rods around Bosanska Krupa trying to chase hucho but most of them use streamers of 30-40g of weight and abuse their stiff fly rods as spinning rods and their heavy streamers pull their fly lines behind them. You can easily detect this if you watch their casts and see the streamer fly in front and take over the lead soon after the stop. Except of some very rare spots the only possibility to correctly catch huchos with the fly in Una river might be at very low water levels in summer at night with surface patterns like mice or poppers.

Top Hucho Pool in front of the new Una Riverside Lodge

In the well known hucho rivers in the Alpine valleys like Mur, Gail, Drau, Pielach, Lech and Sava Bohinjka which all have parts that fit for fly fishing hucho correctly you will find transition areas where deep runs and pools meet with shallower parts. These are the places where huchos usually circle when they hunt for their prey. Such areas are very rare in the hucho part of Una river below . 

However, spin fishermen come certainly at their expense here, provided that they fish from a boat and the huchos are feeding and do not just park in their garages what they unfortunately do most of the times. The Una below Bihać is probably the best choice in Europe for catching huchos with spinning gear. Give it a try!

Fly Fishing Una River

For fly fishers the Una is substantially more suitable in its headwaters in the national park than in the lower area.

Between the mouth of the Unac in Martin Brod and Kulen Vakuf some promising spots await the fly fishers. Not only trophy size graylings, but now and then also huge endemic browns may be expected. A special hotspot for graylings is in the area around the bridge of Kulen Vakuf. The dominant fish here is the grayling, but also brown trout and rainbow trout live there. Huchos cannot pass the high cascades above Bihać so they are not resident in this part of the river.

Fly fishers may also consider to fish Unac or Krusnica as they are much easier to fish than the mighty Una.

Die Una bei Kulen Vakuf
Copyright © Günter Feuerstein