Re: What is it about Steelheads....
I am in full agreement with my fellow posters and will add this; whether you fish the Snake River system, the legendary rivers of the Pacific Northwest, or here in Alaska, these fish can often be very hard to come by. Everything there is to like about a wild rainbow trout is present in a steelhead trout by a multiple of '10'. This is not meant to disparage the Great Lakes fish but my experiences with the Lake Run fish has been considerably different than the wild fish that inhabit the Pacific Ocean and its rivers. In the great lakes the fish sometimes clog the channels of small creeks and although they often will exhibit lockjaw and be nearly impossible to entice to a fly, other times they can be caught in great numbers. This is seldom the case with the wild cousins and that only aids in building the mystique.
I think all of the explanations regarding their strength, elusiveness, and their incredible battle for continued existence in the wild contribute to the vaunted position they hold with the fly fisherman / naturalist.