I'm a great believer in the "presentation is everything" school. I find that visualization helps. Look closely at the water for a while and try to feel what's going on under / on the surface. Two of the most effective yet misnamed techniques are the so-called "dead drift" or wet fly swing and "static" presentations. In both cases, there is no retrieve per se, but the illusion of life is created by the action of the current on the materials in the fly. I like to tie variations of certain patterns with highly mobile materials like marabou, arctic fox and Icelandic sheep.
I agree with Juro in that it's very easy to get into stripping rut - especially when one type of retrieve produces a strike. I like to refer to this as the baby goose syndrome - we either see someone get a hit or experience something similar and suddenly all the rods along the shore are stripping in unison like violin bows at the Boston Symphony. Kenny Abrames spent a lot of time watching surf casters fishing large floating plugs and figured out that the largest stripers were caught by anglers who barely moved the plug - just a twitch/twitch retrieve and then allow the plug to drift.
Makes you wonder what could result with a floating line and seven inch streamer?