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Top 3 Best Duck Decoy Tactics

Follow these simple suggestions to get the most out of your duck decoy spreads.

When it comes to duck decoy sets for waterfowl, there are many options. As touched on in this video, wind direction and topography are the primary factors to consider when setting up a duck decoy spread. The goal is to situate the decoys in a realistic manner that will attract ducks.

While the video touches on a few options, don’t overlook the value of color and movement in a decoy spread. Often times color and movement are the key factors that attract birds, not enormous, elaborately arranged decoy spreads.

Stand Out from the Crowd

Contrasting color is an important feature in a decoy spread. I like white decoys that capture a bird’s attention on sunny days, and dark decoys that are visible on overcast days. Because light conditions often change many times during a hunt, I almost always include contrasting colored decoys in my spreads.

For dark decoys, using dark colored hen mallards can be fine. Some hunters will paint a few old decoys flat black. For white decoys, consider shoveler or pintail decoys. The more white breast that shows and reflects off the water, the greater the visibility. When using large spreads, scattering the contrasting colored decoys will ensure birds can see them from various approach angles. If using small spreads, one or two contrasting colored decoys will suffice. 

Movement Matters

As for movement, in states that allow it, motorized decoys are amazing. The more water these things can throw, the better. Be sure to have extra batteries along and place the decoys in a spot that’s easy to reach when batteries need changing. Wind-aided decoys also work great for catching the attention of distant ducks. Having a couple different spinners in your set can greatly help.

Wind-aided spinning wing mallard hen decoy
Spinning wing decoys can attract distant ducks and take the attention off the hunters as birds commit into the decoys. (Scott Haugen photo)

During times when the wind isn’t blowing–or you’re hunting in a state where motorized decoys are not allowed–jerk cord decoy systems are invaluable. Be it a single decoy in a small spread, or a series of floating decoys linked together, having decoys that create movement on flat water can often mean the difference in a successful hunt or going home empty-handed.

Boost Your Confidence

Confidence decoys can also greatly enhance the effectiveness of a decoy spread. Placing a pair of floating goose decoys in your duck spread instills confidence, and when geese dabble, they reach deeper into the water than ducks can, stirring up food. This action attracts ducks, especially widgeon, so placing a couple widgeon decoys with the goose decoys can be the winning ticket.

If hunting big marshes, adding coot decoys to a spread helps to create a realistic, silhouette affect. Put out a few floaters between the duck decoys and the shoreline, or scatter coot silhouettes along the shoreline, and you’ll be in good shape.

coot decoy
Coot decoys are an excellent choice to add contrast and confidence to your duck decoy spread. (Scott Haugen photo)

Note: Scott Haugen is a full-time author. Learn more at, and follow him on Instagram and Facebook.

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