I cautiously submit my humble opinions as this thread has stirred my thoughts on this and that.
Pinning, is hands down the most effective way to catch numbers of steelhead. My buddy and I fish steelhead in NY. He fishes the pin, I fish the fly. He’ll usually more than double my hookups. We’re both happy with our fishing. I’m a flytard and he’s a pinhead.
In general, I think fly fishing is the most challenging form of fishing. However challenging, fly fishing is often the most effective method in many situations, like fishing trout on a spring creek. Fly fishing the northeast surf is very often the least effective method when conditions do not allow you fish a fly efficiently. I’d love to beach every striped bass on a fly rod, but I don’t. I cast plugs and metal when conditions make it unrealistic to fly fish. In many situations, there is a fine line between “challenging” and “ineffective”.
Being from Appalachia, I only started fishing the salt in earnest a few years ago. At first, I only fished the fly rod. I only fly fish in freshwater, and so that’s how I wanted to fish. This simply evolved into a mixed style of fly fishing and plugging the salt. I actually find that one complements the other. I feel that I can fish effectively in almost any condition. I can reach far off rips, white water, etc. with the spinning rod that a fly rod simply cannot reach. By doing both, I think I’ve learned more about striped bass behavior and the places I fish than I could if I was only dedicated to one or the other.
There are a lot of ways to catch fish. I’m just happy that I can find a lifetime’s worth of fun and amazement with fish and water. I concern myself only with those who don’t respect our fisheries. In the end, that is the only thing that matters.