"I just cannot for the life of me figure out why you would want to take something painfully simple and make it into a quantitative analysis problem."
I think that you have a pretty good definition of fly fishing there. If we all just wanted to keep things as simple as possible, we'd all be fishin' with corn. I don't see a problem with the "simplest" baitfishing technique or the most complex entomological quantitative analysis as long as everyone follows the rules and is friendly. All hobbies are pretty absurd when you think about it.
That said, I always love swinging a wet fly when it looks like trout are hitting caddis emergers. Talk about a simple way to present a fly and the fish pretty much hook themselves.