Questions about Bell Magic from a Kayake

Have been kayaking for quite a few years now but would like to be able to take my dog (50lb springer spaniel) out with me and am seriously considering a solo canoe. Would also be nice to have some more room to move around when fishing. Unfortunately the chances that I’ll be able to test paddle this or any other solo canoe are about slim and none around here in NW Iowa.

So I’ve been doing some reading on the canoe and have a few questions that I hope someone can answer.

I’ve read it’s a straight tracker and can be tough to turn, but how tough? My kayak is a QCC 600x (17’) and before that I paddled a 17’ CD Sirroco. They’ll hardly turn on a dime but are maneuverable enough for the water I see around here. A little more agile would be nice but not a necessity. Could I expect a Magic to be more maneuverable than these? Worse?

What’s it like for a fishing platform? Mostly catfishing on the river and out to some local lakes for some large/smallmouth. I don’t need anything that I can stand up in while I fish but stable enough that I can shift my weight and move around inside while fighting fish or reaching for gear.

FWIW I’m 6’ tall, weigh 170, and am in pretty good shape. I’m no expert paddler by any means but feel confident in my abilities on most water. The vast majority of the trips will be on local slow moving rivers and smaller lakes with the occasional multi-day camping trip somewhere else. I’m not a speed junky but like to be able to paddle hard and cover some water when need be without feeling like I’m trying to push a brick through the water.

Any insight and suggestions would be much appreciated.


Magic Info
I’m a confirmed Magic lover so take my comments for what they are worth. I trip out of my Magic in the Boundary Waters for up to 10 days and it is fully capable of carrying a load including dog The Magic will not turn on a dime, but it is not the straight tracker that a Wenonah Voyager or the like is. If you have decent stroke and can use bow corrections you’ll never have an issue.

Regarding the fishing platform I think a picture will answer that question quite well. From last years BW trip.

Do a quick search of the archives here. The Magic design has been discussed pretty extensively over the last 2 months.


Going out on a limb
Because I’ve never paddled those particular kayaks nor fished from a Magic but…

I believe you will find a Magic somewhat more manuverable than your kayaks. Lots more if you are willing to put her up on edge.

The Magic has very solid secondary stability. I can put both knees in one chine and heel the boat to the gunnels quite comfortably. I’d think that would make it a reasonably decent canoe to fish out of. Not sure I’d want to do that with a nervous dog in the boat though.


sawing off said limb
I think you have a good grasp of what a canoe can do for you in your usual kayaking waters, and the Magic seems like a good choice for what you say you want to do. However, once you start paddling a canoe, you may find that you like the extra freedom it allows and the abundance of new places you can go and things you can do. If so, the Magic may not be your best choice.

Taking the top off your boat not only means being able to take your dog along and having room to spread out your fishing gear. More importantly, it means being able to get in and out of the boat easily, which means being able to pass obstacles in swamps and on small streams that previously blocked you off from huge areas of water. Since these same obstacles also block off motor boats and other traffic, having a canoe means you can travel to places where the fish aren’t used to the tricky ways of man, and where you might not see another person all day long.

In other words, instead of getting a canoe as close as possible to your existing kayak in order to give you a slightly different take on the same experience you get from your kayak, you may want to consider getting a canoe that will open up whole new worlds of experience.

I don’t know where in Iowa you live or what small streams are near you, but I know some parts of Iowa have nice big areas of wetland and lots of little rivers threading through forests. In these tighter quarters, a shorter, more manueverable boat like the Wildfire would be a better fit than the Magic.

Good stuff
Thanks for the advice. The Magic sounds like a winner so far. Will have to do some more thinking and reading about it. Got a line on a couple used ones within a few hours of here. Maybe I can get to them this next weekend and try one out. Sure would be nice to at least sit in one before dropping the $$$ on it.

Thankfully the dog is past his nervous stage and is pretty cool about things anymore.

Good thoughts on a smaller boat to get to harder to reach places but I’ve explored most of what the area has to offer and have no problems getting to them. This is farm country so most small streams are just drainage ditches running between fields.



I’ve paddled the magic before and its a great boat. It sounds like its just what you’re looking for. I would say that it turns better than the kayaks you mentioned but not as good as a down river boat. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with it at all.


why’d you opt for the plastic grip on the Zav? Pretty sure we’ll be seeing each other this weekend according to Ed…

Hey Rick
Yep you’ll be seeing my mug hopefully by noon Friday!

Actually the grip on mine is no different than the standard black. I just ordered the red option so I could easily find my Zav among the pile of others that are starting to show up in our group.

Got a new pistola I’m bringing this weekend too. See ya there.

I have not paddled a Magic, but I own
a Rapidfire and the dawg goes with me.

Bell Rockstar(Royalex)…
Have you two demoed/rented anything? I’d at least try to demo/rent something for a benchmark.

I had a friend with a nervous boston terrier = side to side action…was enough for me just in a small aluminum boat(granted, it was years ago…)


Baaa Thump :wink:
Just falling off of my sawed off limb.

“Notice that they do not so much fly as…plummet.”


Got one!
Bought a used Magic. Will pick it up this weekend and report back after a few outings.

The dog and I are quite excited.


I predict that you and your dog
will be pleased.


Magic driver for three seasons

Dog motion & position
I can handle a lot of dog-induced motion when I’m kneeling – it’s easy to rapidly shift weight from one knee to the other. I’m not as confident when I’m sitting.

I took our 80-lb guy out in my S&G solo this weekend and had a great time. He was leaning over the side biting the tops off the waves.

Congrats on the new boat. Post a review after you’ve paddled it a bit. I think you’re really going to like it.


Got it!
Picked up the Magic Saturday morning, got back home Saturday evening and took a quick 15 minute paddle in a pond before going home to bed. Took it out again Sunday on the river with the dog.

Mixed results so far. The previous owner raised the seat so he could kneel, which I just can’t get comfortable with. Too high to sit comfortably but I managed, makes my paddle too short though. I’ll have the seat lowered by this weekend and I look forward to feeling the difference. Seems promising.

The dog got along fine.

Hopefully I’ll have more to report this weekend.


Do give it time. Getting the seat height right can make a big difference in comfort and pleasure.

the stock Bell seat arches are about 4" if I remember correctly. I will have to measure to be sure.


Take Two
Boy, that was fast! Ordered the stock seat drops (4") from Bell on Sunday and they showed up today. Put them in this afternoon and took it out to a lake this evening, without the dog.

What a difference it made! Had a great time with the canoe and the paddle length feels great now. Much easier to paddle (made my shoulders hurt last time) and much more comfortable.

There’s no comparison to my kayak in terms of speed, but I didn’t really expect there to be. It’s good enough to paddle upstream in the river though, which is what I did on Sunday with the dog. Much better than our old 17’ aluminum tandem for sure.

It’s quicker to turn than my 17’ kayak but keeps a line well. I’m a little disappointed that I can only get 2 or 3 strokes/side before needing to switch. Is this what I can expect without using a J stroke or will it improve as my technique gets better?

I’m interested to see how it paddles with the dog now that I’ve got my seat lowered. Will have to put some fishing on the agenda in the next few days too. I think I’ll get along just fine with this canoe and look forward to getting to know it better.

The seat (cane) got a little uncomfortable after a while. Are there any other seat options? I didn’t see anything on the Bell website (other than nylon strapping instead of cane) and don’t know if there are any other manufacturers out there making anything good that could be fit in. Would love to have an adjustable seat (front to rear).


I like the Ed’s Cane Bucket seat

I installed one in one of my solo canoes this spring and am quite pleased.