The famous nocturnal Hex hatch of the Midwest (and a few other lucky locations) stirs to the surface mythically large brown trout that only touch streamers for the rest of the year.
A question back to you, Spence. Do you differentiate the classic trout streamers from the Michigan Big Ugly you would tie? Is there even a question as to whether that would qualify as a fly?
These issues aren't going away. Maybe we are trying to impose a tradition from a bygone era that just doesn't apply any longer. With the worlds population not shrinking the pressure these trout are under isn't going to ease. Eventually "wild" trout will disappear and we will end up relying more and more on the hatchery truck and an artificially manufactured experience.
To the question of the "Big Ugly" vs the Carrie Stevens type streamers...The Big Ugly was/is the antithesis of those old lures. The Big ugly had unpainted bar-bell eyes and lead wrapped under the body...It's action was jig-like and it sank to the bottom like an anchor...I do differentiate the two.
The saving grace of that ugly old thing was, in my experience a bit different than your comment, the fact that the trout would often short strike it and clamp down on the long marabou tail...I'd roll the fish and see this monster brown and creamy yellow hog roll, and then it would let go.
Smallies aren't such delicate diners. :)
Just to be clear here. I have fished all my life. I started as a dink in a rented boat in back bays along Chesapeake Bay with my sailor father near Norfolk VA. I was a knee high fishing with my great-uncle up on the break walls at Manistee and Frankfort in the late 50's-early 60's before they introduced the imports (Salmon & Steelhead) in to Lake Michigan...We harvested Perch and carried them home in one of those large metal pails that folks used to fill up with warm water and stand in them to wash...A lot of friggin' fish! :)
What I'm trying to say is that I wasn't born in to this tweed and Hardy fantasy. I morphed in to it. I have fished with probably every method in my life short of snagging (which was legal here at one time) and using a spear.
I really don't care what the thundering herd wants to do...Like you I fish my way. I'm not really trying to tell folks what to do, just posing questions.
As my old buddy Bob Dylan use to sing, "These Times They are a Changin'"
The elemental one being, is it only about catching big fish? When I'm standing knee deep in my creek, my answer is a resounding no.