How things have changed. I happen to have a fly catalog from a UK store (don't have it handy, so not sure on which shop). It dates back to the war. I'd say WWII, but from the looks of the pictures and such, I almost want to say WWI. They have their trout flies, and then of course their salmon flies. It's the black and white photos they color in, so can tell it's older. Well, there is not ONE simple salmon fly in there. Not one. All of them are full dressed salmon flies. No hairwings, or simple feather wings. Just amazing. I also have an old flyfishing book I do believe is from the 1940's or 50's from the US. It's actually full of different flies and articles by now famous people (like Dan Bailey, Meagan Boyd, and a few others). I do believe at that point in the book they were talking about using flies for "steelhead trout". They were talking about a trend for using simple hair winged flies. LOL. Was pretty funny, when you think that for as long as I can remember (mid 70's when I started fishing) when I thought of steelhead flies they were hairwings. Never thought of featherwings as steelhead flies.
I actually like the resurgence of hairwings. Are they needed? No, not really. But they are fun to tie, and fun to fish. I confess, I enjoy having pictures taken with an ackroyd in the fishes mouth then a bunny leech. Though, I've caught alot of steelhead on that simple bunny leech. There are times where if you throw something different at the fish, they'll react. I've written this quite awhile ago on this board (I think it was here) about a similar situation to flytyer. Had 3 of us fishing the Hoh. All of us were using drastically different flies. All three of us scored fish. Including a near triple header. It's just working the fly properly and finding the fish sometimes.
"Good angling ethic is not a monopoly practiced just by fly fisherman" - Bill McMillan