They aren't always a fish of a thousand casts, especially as experience with different tips/flies at a given water level is gained. I have come to know every run on my local river, and when the water is at a certain level I know exactly what tip/fly combination will get me in the zone, and can almost expect a grab every pass in some of the pools. When I first started it was more like fish of 5000 casts, now it seems more like fish of one or two hundred casts, and the casting in between is actually a lot of fun, when compared to overhead.
A PNW steelhead guide once told me people starting out often catch steelhead swinging flies, then go through a period of catching less as they learn to cast. Reason being is they become too enamored with distance and don't appreciate how much time gets wasted stripping in line. When the guides fish together on their days off the unofficial rule is to fish no longer than the head length. Keeps them fishing and avoiding friendly casting competitions on the water.
I'm not an expert but have caught far more Atlantic Salmon and Steelhead (PNW and GL) on casts with half a heads length out than any hero cast. It's less about the number of casts and more about the amount of time your fly is effectively swinging in productive water. Fish shorter and you'll catch more.