Favorite Paddle for Bell Magic Canoe

I bought a used Bell Magic in Blackgold this summer and need to upgrade my paddle. I was thinking of a ZRE, Z Medium (10oz) or a Power Surge Z medium (10oz). The widest width for this paddle is 8 3/8 inch, which seems to be popular. I would be using it for touring & tripping lakes and slow, wide rivers. What would be your pick? Whats your favorite?

Sitting or kneeling ?
I’m pretty happy with my Zav medium straight shaft.

I kneel 90% of the time so the stright works well. If I sat low in the boat I’d have stayed with the 12 degree bent.

I’ve never tried the power curve blades but the standard Zav blade is pretty sweet, especialy if you are not racing. A light stick medium small blade and a high stroke rate makes for nearly effortless cruising.

ZRE yes, but…
I’d go with the Outrigger Ultralight because you could pick up an extra square foot of surface area on the blade. Makes for better boat handling on tight twisty turns and gets you up on the plane quicker from a dead stop. Only two potential disadvantages: More surface area to catch wind on windy days (requires that you learn to feather your stroke), and as with all carbon-fiber ultralights, you can’t use it to push off with in the shallows without the possibility of breakage.

I have a few Zavs, one of them is a 9.5" outrigger and it’s my least favorite. Too much blade, too much weight, and too much work.

I paddle a Magic as well as other boats and like to paddle at a good clip as well as race. I’m not generally doing anything tight and twisty. A Z medium with an 8 inch blade is my favorite. I also have an 8.5" blade Z medium, but again, the difference in pull is noticeable but the speed increase isn’t.


Touring blades
are different from racing blades. Watch that the size of the blade is matched to you. I see people using oversized blades for them on all day trips and then wonder why they are exhausted.

I presume that with the Magic you are seated. A bent is best for seated and for touring I would go with a relatively small blade. Its far easier to keep the cadence up when you want to accelerate with a small blade.

You may want to move up later to a bigger blade, but I bt you will never give up the smaller. Also as we get older bigger blades are more stressful on joints.

The last I looked rec canoes were displacement hulls…hmmm.

Paddle for a Magic
When I got my Magic (with a stock seat,) I noticed that none of my favorite paddles felt right. I bought a shorter bent shaft (46")and all was right with my world. That seat is low.

Power Surge Blade
For a light, efficient hull like the Magic, a wide blade is not as useful as it is with a large loaded canoe. But no matter what width, get the Power Surge blade. The slight curl at the tip gives it a nicer entry than a flat blade. Quieter, more solid catch.

Gillespie was the first one to put the curled tip on a bent shaft with his delightful wooden bent shafts. 30 minutes with one of his paddles and every other wooden bent shaft seemed like a board.

The Zaveral Power Surge has the same feel in a lighter carbon fiber paddle.

Red Cross Randy is a large paddler, he is usually in a big canoe. And he is right about the big Outrigger Blade getting the canoe up to racing speed quickly. And it has the surface area you need if you are pulling the bow of a long loaded canoe with no rocker around a buoy. It takes a big strong paddler to swing it at a fast cadence, and Randy has those qualifications.

In C-4 with large paddlers, we use the Outrigger Zaverals at 9.25". this past 90 miler we paddled head to head with a mixed team of college paddlers. Our average age was 40 years older than theirs, and our average weight 40# over theirs. They all had very small blades and paddled a fast cadence. We were maybe 5-8 strokes/ minute under their cadence. But on every lake we pulled ahead of them. Our energy conversion to motion was a tad more efficient. partly due to hundreds of hours in the boat together for our team. Partly due to less slippage of the paddle blades in the water.


I prefer the narrower ZRE Medium.
Even the 8.5" wide blade is too much work for me.

Dispacement Hulls
Yeah, I had the same thought. Getting “up on plane” doesn’t ever happen and never will. Even if that wasn’t the meanining intended, it suggests a racer’s point of view rather than one which matches that of the original poster and average paddler.

Yes, that seat on the Magic is low!
I always sit in the Magic and am still using my old bent shaft which is 54 inches, way too long! I had no idea that half an inch in width would make such a difference. I failed to mention my stature, I’m 5’-8" and 155 Lb so I don’t count myself as a strong paddler but a determined one. As for the boat-I love it, I just need to get a paddle that is of equal quality. The more advice I get the better!

Good deal on ZRE
Yowza, a 54" bent is a long paddle in anything! I’m 6’1" and am currently using a 49" in my Magic and want to move down another inch.

Campmor has some ZRE paddles (48 and 50 inch) at a good price right now. Their stocks come and go so don’t wait too long. Free shipping on orders over $100 too.



power surge
I’m another fan of the power surge. Great blade.

I Don’t Know But I Been Told
I sure don’t have the muscle to do it myself yet. But from what I hear from the racers, when they get the hull moving fast enough it lifts and gets easier to drive forward. In shallow water I think they call it popping?

While it isn’t likely to be truly planing, something is going on that could easily be described as such.

Hopefully someone who knows more than me will chime in with an explanation.

I’ve started doing some racing in the last year or so and while certainly no expert “popping” (in shallow water) and “planing” are not the same thing.

The bow of your boat displaces water and when in shallow water it will rebound off the bottom and create a wave right in front of the boat. This is why, when paddling hard, it feels like the bow rises and the stern squats in shallow water, killing your speed. You’re up against that bow wave and it’s very difficult to paddle over it.

But if you have enough speed and can sprint when you hit the shallows you can get ahead of this bow wave, so when it rebounds off the bottom of the lake/river it comes up farther towards the stern, giving you a wave to ride.

This works best in very shallow water (less than a foot?) and not really at all in water much deeper than that and it takes more than a little effort to get ahead, and keep ahead, of that wave.


love my PowerSurge
I got the default width, which I think was 8 1/4 inches.


Any Zav will do
You really can’t go wrong with any of the offerings from ZRE. Wider or narower. 10 oz or 12 ounce. Once your paddling for a few hours, it won’t make much difference.

While some might argue that the Magic is primarily a sit and sitch boat. You might want to experiment with a shorter seat drop for kneeling. I paddle my Magic 50% kneeling and 50% sitting and find that shorter drop much more comfortable for kneeling with very minimal sacrifice in primary stability for sitting.

Bet it would move with a Lutra
if y9u had the hp. Some of those old blades were huge.

What is all of this talk
about function and power?

What about aestetics? I have a Bell (Mitchell) VooDoo and the combination of cedar, ash and carbon fiber simply looks “right” with my B/G Magic w/wood trim.

Paddles nice, too.