I'm sure that anyone who fishes for any length of time, gets into a funk, where what we do is more habit than actually fishing for the conditions. Dead drifting salt patterns works well, just as it does in other types of fishing, but most of the time I too also strip a salt fly more than I should.
Don't know if you fish any plastic baits with other tackle, but for the past several years, when I need to do something different than what I've been doing, and knowing I may be over doing the strip retrieve, I picture a "senko" plastic worm & try to keep it in my mind and how it moves when it's just falling thru the the water. That lure is used various ways, might imitate many things, but nothing in particular, just as some flies we use may fit that description. However one of the most productive ways to fish a senko is let it do nothing, just cast it out & let it fall, particularly in fairly clear, shallow water.
The thing is, it's shape causes it to have a subtle shimmy to it when it falls, a movement that we as anglers don't see easily, but the fish do and that ever so slight wiggle can be deadly. I prefer to rig them "wacky rig" style with the hook at the center point, which really takes advantage of that shimmy.
A lot of the flies we use have plenty of built in movement that we don't consider as a stand alone enticement often enough. Some materials have lots of movement, while others it's more subtle. Ever watch a real crab or a shrimp, or crayfish in the water? Even when they're sitting still, there's slight movements as they test their surroundings. All too often we as anglers picture them moving in our fishing thought process, only as a whole, and so we strip the imitation in our effort to mimic them. Sometimes, more is less, but we get into that habit, because it does work much of the time.
karstopo, IMO, dead drifting salt flies goes against what the majority of us are taught, but your post is an excellent reminder that what these fish we chase see & react to is not always what we expect or think about. Funny how many of us can cast a nymph for trout & let it dead drift with the current, and yet have a hard time with that same mind set when casting a saltwater fly pattern, even though many things that fish eat in the saltwater environment are at the mercy of the current, just like a nymph in a trout stream. It's often difficult too to be open minded about what we should be trying, yet to improve our fishing we also must improve our own thought process.
I remember a specific incident many years ago, I was fishing a small tidal river in MD, had a fly rod rigged & also had spinning tackle with me. I had been casting a white streamer for bass with no results, had just laid down the fly rod, allowing the fly to trail behind as I paddled down river & picked up the spinning gear to make a few cast. I heard a thump, thump, behind me, and when I picked up the fly rod, a Bullhead catfish had grabbed the fly. This one incident I've remembered like it happened yesterday & reminds me to try not to let my thought process overwhelm the fishing process.
Thanks for posting this! A very good reminder, not to over think, strip a fly too much & not to get complacent.