Submitted: 04-21-2003 by Wildwater
LOVE. The best word to describe my feelings about this fine canoe. Mine is a fire-red whitegold version, with ash and walnut accents and two added carrying handles. The interior kevlar beatifully matches the fine woodwork, and the seat is stationary wood and cane. At my weight, the Wildfire likes to be paddled in a kneeling position. This is what I prefer, and the Bell gets a "10" for "control", especially on rivers. The previous owner removed the "Bell" and "Wildfire" decals for aesthetic reasons, and I am okay with this (adds to the beauty? and everybody knows it's a Bell, anyway). This is a PRETTY, PRETTY boat, both from inside the boat AND from outside. Now I'll tell you why it's a "10" when no boat does everything perfectly. Well, the Wildfire is a compromise, yes, but the best I've seen (haven't paddled a Swift Osprey, but I'd like to). Must know that I'm 5'10", 205 pounds, 44 years. Once in a while I straighten my legs out, and the Wildfire's okay with this if the river's fairly tame, so I do get to stretch once in a while. The seat height is perfect for my size. The cane seat needs a butt pad - I'm ordering one of those fine "gel-filled" ones - they work well. The Wildfire likes to turn, but does so with predictability - it does not "spin". In the wind, I use BIG sweep strokes and a slight lean to bring this "moving water" hull around. In no wind, it's one, two, three, switch for a nice glide, which I give a 7 or 8 on flatwater. Don't get me wrong, the Wildfire will fly on flatwater, but you'd have to ask the better paddlers on this page. Also, the Wildfire's tendency to "turn" gives it a wonderful "personality", so you can follow the shoreline wherever it meanders. BTW, I use a 48 1/2-inch "Meany" bent shaft, which has a LARGE concave blade (a perfect "10" paddle, but this is another review). In moving water, the Bell truly shines. Wow, it's true love.