If I haven't said it lately I'll say it again. I have the utmost admiration for wading anglers. I am a terrible and impatient wading angler and I truly think that the way I fish is the "easy" way. I only cast if I see fish -- I leave if I don't. I get to watch how fish react to every cast, every fly, and every retrieve. It's pretty easy to adjust what I'm doing and eventually get it "right."
I like the technique you've described and it sound remarkably similar to the way I fish nymphs on a particular trout stream. Again, I would urge you to experiment with a strike indicator -- I think you'll be surprised at how clear the "takes" become.
I agree that the fish are wising-up. I reassure myself that when the Sulfers are hatching everyone on the stream is trying to match them with a finite selection of patterns and the trout get wise too. Presentation, fine terminal tackle, stalking, and maybe an unusal fly all become weapons.
Still, I've spent all week at the vise and have very few flies to show for my time. I'm desperate to start the season with some "new" crabs. I've eliminated a few directions and have a few more to try. Otherwise it's back to the ol' standards as my tying time is getting short. Steve