February 26, 2022
Using honker floaters in your duck decoy spread can greatly add to your success. I have been using them to add realism and confidence while decoying ducks over water and to help those ducks locate your decoy spread from a greater distance. Right when the geese start to fly you have the honker floaters to help seal the deal on the big birds, too.
There are a few things to remember and usually are no-brainers. Depending on the size of your duck decoy spread, I will not use more goose floaters than duck decoys. For one reason, goose decoys can really take up a lot of room on your boat, not only room; those decoys add a lot of weight through using 6-8 oz Texas rigs on goose floaters compared to 4-6 oz rigs on your duck decoys. However, one thing to consider would be long-lining your goose floaters.
Decoy location. It has been my experience that ducks usually do not land over or in goose decoys. I am not sure if it's a size thing, a dominance relationship type thing or what, but very rarely do they intermingle with one another. I definitely use that to my advantage and have had great success. Keep the decoys separated. I use the goose floaters at the top edge of my duck decoy spread on the upwind side, essentially using the goose floaters as a blocker.
Spell It Out
I'll sometimes create an angle with the floaters and use that angle to help close off the hole, pushing the ducks tighter into the landing area creating that feet down finishing shot that we as duck hunters so desire. When considering the layout of your duck decoy spread there are a lot of ways to do it here are a few basic ones. The Nike swoosh (J-shaped decoy spread), the deep pocket or the U (my favorite), the L-spread, broken pocket technique, and the X-spread, if you have water and landing areas on all sides of you.
Goose decoys have a spot in each one and use your imagination when setting out your decoys. Keep enough space and distance between your decoys. I typically keep three to four feet between my duck decoys and one to three feet distance in the landing area. Ducks tend to want to be in the masses. Use the wind to your advantage and set up accordingly. Be prepared to change your decoy spread to adjust for the wind.
The Extra Touch
Using spinning-wing decoys such as MOJOs with remote controls in your decoy spread is a deadly combo; turn them off when working geese and back on when working ducks. Using goose floaters on rivers and streams also works well. I tend to keep more space between duck decoys and goose decoys on rivers and more of a gap between species leaving a clear landing area between both spreads. Use the river current to your advantage. Eddies create a great landing area for both ducks and geese and is usually where they want to be. Sometimes they will land above and swim in so keep that in mind as well.
Each hunting scenario is different, be willing and ready to adjust for wind, and how the ducks and geese react to your set up, making minor or even drastic adjustments can pay off.