It would depend on what year this was going on. The regs used to define flyfishing and it included 30' of flyline in the definition. I haven't looked at the regulation definition of fly fishing for a number of years though.When I started fishing the Klick many of the locals were beating up on the steelies with a fly rod, an automatic fly reel (loaded with mono) and a few split shot. They didn't seem to understand why anyone would use a coffee grinder for fishing. Bait of choice was usually a cased caddis, salmon fly, grasshopper or any other morsel they could impale on a bucktail fly tied on #2 hook.
Were they fly fishing?
No one should care now. To my knowledge the WDFW has never defined fly fishing in the regulations. A large number of anglers mistakenly assume that the definition for "Fly Fishing Only" waters is a definition for "fly fishing". "FFO" water definition limits the equipment that is allowed on those designated waters only. Those old boys on the Klick in the '70-'80's were just using the gear that they had at the time.Back then I don't think many folks cared.
A muddler minnow a couple split shot and clear bubble was an effective trout catching combination on the upper Klamath, (sorry, steelhead forum - I don't believe there were any steelhead in the Klamath between John C Boyle and Keno dams circa 1975-78) I didn't have a flyrod back then but I considered it "fly fishing'.Haven't you guys ever fished a spinning reel on your fly rod with a clear spin bubble and fly?
I used a level winder for my Steelhead fishing. And, fuck I forgot what is was called. It's been a lot of years since I fished that way. It was a red one and I paid a few bucks for it. I have also used the Mitchell 300 and I also had a 400. I really liked them reels.