I have this discussion with my father in law who is in his 70's and longs for the days of snagging with lead wrapped treble hooks. He doesn't understand why I limit myself to a technique which self admittedly is not the most effective way to catch steelhead, particularly on the great lakes.
I love catching steelhead and don't enjoy being skunked any more than the next guy. However, I have come to appreciate that how a fish is caught is more important than if a fish is caught. Although hid fishing ethic is lacking my father in law is an avid hunter and has a strong ethic when it comes to that. Although it is the extreme end of angling ethic, I have compared for him snagging with digging a punji pit and covering it with corn and salt for deer. I assure you that I would be very successful and kill very many deer.
I realize that you are not talking about snagging but I take the extreme end of catching being the only issue to make a point. Sportsmanship is based on an underlying respect for the animals we stalk. Otherwise it is simply harvesting of fish and wildlife.
I fished eggs and nymphs for many years, and like yourself have caught countless steelhead doing so. I do not begrudge the individuals who continue to do so. (Except when they have concrete feet, but that's a different conversation.) The technique fairly hooks fish and that is the minimal standard for ethical practices.
However, I reached a point where I realized that I didn't fully appreciate the individual fish. None of them stood out in my memory. I have since switched to swinging wets and streamers and although my catch numbers dropped the experience is much more valuable. My first trip to the North Umpqua I hooked two fish in a week but I remember the grab., the first run and every move those fish made. The excitement of a sudden grab of a wet or the boil of a steelhead taking a dry far exceeds rolling split shot across the bottom of a stream and wondering was that a strike or a rock ?
Steelhead are beautiful fish which give us their all, I just think we owe it to them to do the same.