For most duck hunters, decoys are one of the most important aspects of hunting. Without decoys, you’re setting yourself up for a tough (if not completely unproductive) hunting experience. The duck best decoys are extremely lifelike and are capable of capturing a duck’s attention from hundreds of yards away. Of course, there are so many decoys on the market that it can be hard to choose which ones will work best for you. Good duck decoys are durable, have realistic paint, lifelike body postures, and a tough exterior for surviving harsh conditions.
What to Look for in Duck Decoys
When picking out duck decoys you should consider keel type, design, and species.
The most popular keel type is the weighted keel, which is found on most decoys. The weighted keel allows the decoys to self-right when tossed out or if they are knocked over by waves. Unweighted keels are perfect for shallow areas that don’t get too windy because they won’t self-right. Unweighted keels weigh less than weighted keels and are especially good for the hunter that hikes into their hunting spots.
The duck decoy design that will work best for you is going to depend on where you are hunting. Floating duck decoys are best for hunting over water that is deep enough for them to float in. Most field hunters use a mix of silhouettes, shells, windsocks, or full body decoys. These decoys can also be used in shallow water or on sandbars and mudflats.
The most common type of duck decoy is a floater. You can certainly hunt ducks over fields, but you are more likely to see geese rather than ducks in most of these types of areas. Secluded water holes are where I have had the best luck duck hunting.
The species of duck decoys that you should buy will likely be the same one that you are focused on hunting, or even the duck species that is most prevalent where you hunt. The most commonly harvested duck in America is the mallard, so most people tend to use at least a few mallard decoys in their spread. Plus, just about every duck will work into mallard decoys. If you are a diver duck hunter, then you will want to find out which species of diver is the most common and go with that.
How many duck decoys should you grab? This is a loaded question and one that most duck hunters think about on a hunt-by-hunt basis. It’s safe to say that if you get into duck hunting you will eventually have at least a few dozen decoys. That said, you certainly don’t need a lot of decoys to kill ducks, even on big water. In college, I would often only carry 6 to 12 decoys and hunt a marshy shoreline on a huge body of water. I frequently limited out when I used this tiny spread. A limit on wood ducks without decoys is even possible in a secluded swamp.
Although I typically don’t set big spreads with dozens of decoys, they certainly do work, especially in areas that regularly see large flocks of ducks or during late-season hunts. That just isn’t the case for me here in Georgia.
After doing a deep dive, I found what I believe to be the best duck decoys of 2022. Although the categories don’t cover every type or design of duck decoy available, the categories were made to try to cover most hunters’ needs.
Best Budget Floater
If you are just getting started or are trying to build your spread on a tight budget, then Northern Flight decoys from Bass Pro Shops are going to be hard to beat. You can get a dozen mallard decoys for less than $60. Less expensive decoys are what I went with when I first started duck hunting, and sure, you get what you pay for, but they did the trick for a few years.
Best Floater Decoy
If you have been duck hunting for a while and have more or less figured out what you are doing, then you probably want to invest in some higher quality floaters. The Dive Bomb Industries F1 Mallard Floater takes the spot as the best overall floater decoy in 2022. They are exceptionally well made, have tough realistic paint, and each 12-pack comes in six ultra-realistic poses.
My favorite non-mallard decoy is the Topflight Wigeon from Avian-X. These decoy 6-packs are very well made with an incredibly realistic paint scheme and three different postures. If I am making a medium-sized spread, I will even work these decoys in with my mallards.
Lifetime Decoys, which recently rebranded themselves as Heyday Outdoor, makes what we believe are the best foam decoys you can buy. Made of 100% HydroFoam, are extremely light, super durable, and will still float even if they’re shot with a shotgun. Ducks will be able to see these decoys from a long ways off and if they buzz the top of your spread you won’t have to worry about sinking decoys because of errant pellets.
Best Shell Decoy for the Field
Higdon’s Magnum Full-Form Shell Mallard decoys are the perfect duck shell decoy to use in fields, at the edge of the water, or on sandbars and mud flats. The decoys are large, have fully flocked heads, and use durable realistic paint. If you are hunting a field, these are the decoys you are going to want.
Best Silhouette Decoys
If you are looking to grow your spread and already have some full-body decoys or shells, then you should definitely buy a few dozen of Dive Bomb Industrie’s M1 Mallards. They are only around $80 a dozen, lightweight, and very realistic.
Best Spinning Wing Decoy
When searching for a spinning wing decoy, you will want one that is quiet, realistic, easy to use, and remote-friendly. The Mojo Elite Series King Mallard checks all of those boxes and more. This decoy is user-friendly, lightweight, super quiet, and remote capable. These Mojo decoys are a great way to add motion to your decoy spread and make it much more lifelike.
Although there are a plethora of decoys for you to choose from on the market, there are a few that stand out from the rest. Most of the time I like to stick to floater decoys, and I usually use around a dozen mallards. Sometimes I like to mix in a few non-mallard decoys, and in my region, the best thing to use for that are widgeon or wood duck decoys. However you set up your spread, hopefully the decoys we discussed here help you have your most successful year of duck hunting yet!