It's the old debate, row a boat or wade fish. Which is most effective? There seems to be a cult of boaters who refuse to even pull over on the river and get out to piss. Then there's a cult of hardcore hikers and waders who don't mind hiking 10 miles to a small creek or powering through heavy water to reach a lie.
In the state of Oregon, many rivers don't allow fishing from the boat. Take a trip to the Deschutes and boats are used as tools to access prime runs. I think versatility is the key being effective. I've spent entire days forcing the boat approach when wading was the better choice and days wading when a boat would have been great. Here are a few of the ups and downs that come with both approaches.
One of the major downsides to boating is the chore of rowing. If you own the boat, it's common to row all day while your friends catch fish.
Unless there are several competent oarsmen on the trip, plan on doing the work without the fun of fishing.
It's a bad thing on occasion to row your buddies but if they want a regular thing, they better learn how to handle the sticks.
Wade fishing access points receive heavy pressure on many rivers and hiking isn't always an option. Boats allow you to access water that is less pressured. You can stay in the boat or jump out to wade fish prime runs. This is a huge advantage on rivers where private lands block out those willing to hike. It also allows access to canyons where hiking and wading are very limited.
You are really targeting different fish in many cases. Boaters often miss fish on the inside corner of a run because the boat moves too quickly. If the run has a soft spot to turn and position the boat, you can hit the corner without wading but many runs are too swift.
Boats are great for dropping streamers along an undercut bank and working tight to the bank. Wading allows you to target specific fish and pick apart a piece of water.
When fish populations are dense, wade fishing really is ideal. When they are scattered and you are searching, the boat lets you cover miles of water with little effort.
Wade fishing obviously opens up more options when it comes to smaller rivers and streams but boats are very handy on stillwaters.