Waterfowl hunting may be the most gear-intensive hunting sport there is, especially when you take all the decoys into account. Prep work before a hunt takes time and care. But heck, that’s part of the fun! There are a lot of ways to rig your decoys. Deciding how to rig them is part personal preference and part hunting style.
Rigging decoys is much more than just tying some line and a sinker to a decoy. Getting your set up right takes some work, but it pays off when you have a good hunt. Having things set up wrong can ruin a hunt too.
Texas rigs: Clip-N-Go!
By far, the easiest way to rig a decoy is the Texas rig. What is a Texas rig? It is simply a tangle-free cord attached to the decoy via a clip. On the cord is a sliding sinker. Most Texas rigs are 36 inches long. You can also find them set at 18 inches for shallow puddles and deeper at 48 inches. Usually the 48-inch rigs have a 6-ounce sinker. The shallower rigs tend to have a 4-ounce sinker. At the ends of the line, there is a D-loop and you can connect all of the rigs with a carabineer.
What makes Texas rigs so easy is you just clip them on the decoy and you’re ready to go. The weight slides down the cord when you put it in the water, making the decoy always sit correctly. Carrying the decoys and transport is easy and the cords seldom, if ever, get fouled up.
The first time I used Texas-rigged decoys, I was hooked. I have enough to worry about when I’m setting up in the morning. Not having to worry about the decoys is nice. It leaves more time for important things like drinking coffee and, well, drinking more coffee.
The easiest way to go, if you’re in the market for new decoys and rigs, is to get the Hard Core Pre-Rigged Decoys. The Clip-N-Go Decoys have everything in one box at a nice price. Where else are you going to get a premium decoy all ready to hit the water right out of the box? I can honestly say that if I had no connection to Hard Core, I would still buy them. Given all of the choices in decoys out there, I think that says a lot. I mean, you can go from the box to the water and hunt in a matter of seconds. There aren’t many hunting products out there you can say that about.
I know what you’re thinking. Why would anyone want to still use a standard rig set up when there are easier systems available? Well there is a reason, and that is adjustability.
In a standard rig, you have your anchor cord which is attached with a crimp. You add a cord clamp to the cord to allow you to make the depth adjustable. That is the biggest reason to still use a standard set up. If you hunt in deep water, or variable water and need to set decoys over a wide range of water depths, having that adjustability is key to not having your decoys looking odd and out of place.
For a weight, there is the common strap weight, which can be bent into several shapes. I always bent it into a J-shape around the keel of the decoy for storage. There are also J-shaped weights, such as the Hard Core EZ-Hook Decoy Weights, that are already shaped for hooking the keel. They use a rubber strap to connect to the cord. The rubber strap allows you to add tension to the weight and keep it on the decoy better while carrying the dekes in the bag. It also adds a little bit of “bounce” to the decoy. I used these kinds of set ups in rivers. The flow of the water pulls on the decoy and the rubber strap “snaps” the decoy back just a little. It makes the decoy look like a live bird swimming against the current.
Selecting the right cord is important too. There are two basic types: braided and composite. The braided line is very strong and last a long time. Composite cords, like Hard Core’s Wrap-Rite, will resist tangling, which is a very frustrating reality of decoys. With composite lines, there is a greater chance of breakage. I think the tangle-free quality outweighs this, however. It’s personal preference, so pick the cord that best fits your style.
The first time I used a gang rig was with a good friend, Delta Waterfowl Magazine editor Paul Wait. He invited me to go hunting divers on Lake Poygan in Wisconsin. It was a great hunt and I learned a lot about how to set up a gang rig.
A gang rig works well when you have a lot of decoys to put out and works especially well with divers, like bluebills and redheads. You have an anchor weight at one end of a main line. Off that main line, you run separate lines off the main line to each decoy, attaching the lines via clips. It allows you to run a long string of decoys without having to set each decoy to a specific depth. You also don’t have to wind the cord/weight on each individual decoy.
The lines of decoys show up well and reflect the natural swimming motion of live birds. Incoming flocks will follow the line right to the hunters. It worked very well for us hunting on Poygan. We took a mixed-bag limit of redheads, bluebills, and bufflehead. Hard Core offers a complete kit for setting up a gang rig with anchors, main line, and decoys lines with clips.
Jerk rigs: Snap back, jack!
These are decoy rigs that my buddies all use when they shoot more ducks than me. No, not really. They may be jerks, but the real jerk rig can lead to shooting more ducks.
Jerk rigs are similar to gang rigs in that there is a central anchor weight and a main line coming off that anchor. You run a decoy or several off that line and the end comes to you in your blind/boat/hide. You “jerk” on the line and therefore jerk the decoy on the surface of the water. Instant motion in the spread!
Rigging your decoys, no matter how you go about it, is part of the game. It’s not always easy, but for those of us totally addicted to waterfowl hunting, it is fun.