I would recommend starting with some rentals from Red's and check out the difference from some first hand rowing experience. I believe the rent both rafts and Clackacrafts and the river is really good for someone without a ton of experience on the sticks
I have a background in whitewater rafting (was a photographer, and attended casacade whitewater school three years on the payette). My step father is an ACA cert Intstructer training in whaitewater and sea kayaking etc.
I bring this up because the differnce in terms between this community and the fishing community are mind boggling.
Dustin, most of the boats on the markets aren't true "catarafts", so most call them toons. Think they got their names after the aluminum boats people use on the lakes. I know most of us in the whitewater world (I used to run whitewater with crews professionally) called them catarafts.
But most "pontoon boats" are usually just oversized floattubes. Not really whitewater grade, and nothing I'd truly want to run whitewater in.
I have a 13 whitewater raft made by Hyside, with a break down frame. It is great for running white water, and you can launch it anywhere. It will haul 2 people, food and gear for a week long camping/fishing expidition. If you decide to get a raft I would recomend gettting one with a self bailing floor. Mine does not have one and I do a lot of bailing.
Driftboats are nice to fish from and a lot easier to row, but you have to have room at home to park a trailer, and I have never figured out how to get a driftboat in a helecoptor.
Damned FlGator, you're almost quoting my questions Verbatim. ROFL!!!
What FLGator said pretty much. Are you only interested in fishing with the boat? What type or rivers do you plan to float. With ANY boat that you row, when you talk about putting a rower plus 2-3 other people in it, you'll be bogging the boat down. If you plan to flyfish, you'll only want 3 people in the boat ONLY if you plan to fish on the move. One in front and one in back. If you plan to float from hole to hole, you can move up in people, depending on how big of boat you plan to buy. A MAJOR key for those of you looking to invest in a boat. If you plan to drift from hole to hole and NOT fish from the boat, DO NOT buy a fishing framed raft/cataraft. It'll be your biggest waste of $$$$. Get a standard raft with a rower frame and thwarts for your passenger to sit on. Less weight and you won't need the thrills of the standing platforms/leaning braces/anchor system, etc. Can simply pull the boat to the beach and fish (basically do what a rafter would do with their boats when they pull up for a break, they don't use anchors). Same goes for a cataraft. Why waste your $$ on all the thrills if you plan to float. A basic rowers module with two multi cooler modules (can toss a big cooler in each as seats and second part to drape the feet over) to get you buy. Less cost and easier to deal with. The NRS systems aren't bad, especially if you don't plan to run hard stuff (I personally hate aluminum for whitewatering, one ding in the piping and you've weakened the boat). If you just do simple floats, go for it (lighter). Plus, you can customized your frame to your needs (a rowers bracket, and some simple cross brackets with seats for your passengers for both the raft frame or cataraft frame).
That was just something really quick. I literally can go all day on the bennies of a raft/cataraft/pontoon boat/driftboat/sled (mostly because I've owned and ran hard all of them at one time or another).
Jason, there are guys who buy a driftboat and not fish from it. That's my point. Guys will buy boats simply to transport them (that's forgiving like an inflatable) and not use the fishing options that are installed on the frame they've bought. And yes, I've seen it MANY a times (and have fished with several guys who had them and I was the first one to fish on the move in them).
Now if you were soloing and wanted to fish while floating you'd be way ahead with a pontoon boat. I've had all three. With the raft or drift boat boat if you let go of an oar to fish you'll start spinning down the river. Pretty tough for drag free fishing! With the pontoon boat I can float and fish at the same time, one hand on an oar the other on the rod, stick the rod in my teeth is things get too exciting. If the fish is large enough that can get exciting too. Not recommended for denture wearers.