I too started out as a gear fisherman and I used to think that catching a steelhead on a fly rod was almost a gimmick. I got my first one on the S Fork Stilly after pounding the river all day using spinners and bait. I got my 2nd one about 5 casts later. As I transitioned to beign pretty much an exclusive flyfisherman I used to fish both methods and discovered that I could catch just as many, if not more fish using flies. My day of enlightenment came when I was hiking about a mile stretch of water. I fished upstream using spinners, and on the way back, I strung up my fly rod and fished flies on the way down. I got one fish on a spinner, and 6 on the flies.... Once you get it dialed in, you will never go back. I do think gear has a big advantage (specifically bait) on a bigger, more colored river. Welcome to steelhead flyfishing, I'm guessing you'll never go back. It just is never the same again. As for reading water, you need roughly the same understanding of reading water to fish gear as you do to swing flies. Again, being somebody who uses all methods, I think that nymphing requires a higher understanding of reading water and currents. At least to do it right and successfully. Lastly, get a pair of twins who have some remedial experience flyfishing and gear fishing, but not for steelhead and not nymphing. Put a spinning rod in one of their hands and a box of floats and jigs. Give the other one a fly rod and a vest set up for nymphing. The one with the fly rod is going to really struggle, the one with the gear rod should be able to figure it out pretty quickly.