Thursday, February 2, 2012

Decoy Weights

Decoys are easily my favorite part of duck hunting. I love buying new ones, restoring old ones, carving cork ones, and looking at fine ones. After actual possession of the decoy, most of the fun, though, is gone. Now I do enjoy deploying them. But, as far as rigging them with line and weights - I hate that mess. There are a couple of rules when it comes to rigging decoys. To retain your possession, you absolutely must have (a) line that is long enough to touch the bottom at a 45 degree angle from the decoy and (b) have a heavy enough anchor to hold it in place. Once these two standards are met, the rest is up to the personal preference of the decoy owner.

Personally, I hate plastic decoys because they are a poor investment. Purchasing something that is guaranteed to sink after an errant pellet strike just doesn't make sense. Still,  I but plastic for a few scenarios...when I need hundreds or when carving or foamers just aren't effective. However, when it comes to rigging them, they are the most convenient when it comes to line and weight storage. Most plastic decoys are designed so that the decoy line can be wrapped around the keel - which keeps it nice and knot-free. Depending on the weight's style, there are a number of ways it can be stored. I use J shaped anchors with a rubber stretchee cord to hold it in place - it just locks on to one end of the keel. Some people like the strap or bar style weights - and they'll wrap them around the head. That's semi-effective, but it will rub the paint off the neck. The anchors might also drag on the surface in a hard blow, sine they are flat. The J-shaped offer some resistance to wind and currents. The J-shaped anchors are about twice the price. But, it's cheaper in the long run. I bought every anchor under the sun for a plastic decoy. But the j-shaped anchors with stretchee cords virtually guarantee not to knot while on the decoy. The j-shaped anchors, though, can snag on lots of things, including other decoy lines while you retrieve decoys from the water. Overall, though, they are good on the paint, not bound to knot, and easy to store. If you buy these first (I believe under the Ace Anchor brand name), you'll never know the joys of watching decoys float away and untangling knots while the fakes are still in the bag.

I don't want to spend to much time on Texas Rigging decoys. You can buy the kits from major catalogue brands. Rig 'em Right makes the best, if you want my opinion. However, you can also visit a coastal tackle shop and pick up 2.0 mm clear monofilament, 4 ounce egg sinkers, 2.2 mm double barreled crimps, a crimping tool, and scissor. Most egg sinkers will have to be drilled to accomodate the mono. Either way, you crimp a two inch loop in one end, slide the egg sinker on the loose end, then slide the loose end through the hole on the decoy. At that point, crimp another 2 inch loop on the other end to keep it sliding back through the hole in the keel. It's pretty simple, despite how confusing I made it sound. Egg sinkers will drag a little, but I use them within impoundments and shallow freshwater ponds. The overall length of each line can be from1 foot to almost 5 foot - it just depends on how deep the water is where you would intend to use them. When I do use them in tidal areas, I can stomp the egg weight into the sand so that it will hold a little better.

Some decoys, especially if you maintain a stand of Herter's, Restle's, or any self carved, the decoys more than likely either don't have a keel, or have a keel that can't store line. In that case, most hunters would just wrap the line around the widest part of the body - usually the belly - and then save the last foot or so to wrap around the neck. Depending on the anchor you have, you'll have some options. Some of us are lucky enough to have found some old Herter's neck collar weights. After wrapping the decoy line around the decoy, the weight goes over the head and rests on the neck. Not tangle-proof, but good enough. Some people melt their own led to replicate this style. Others will melt it in muffin tins and place and aluminum wire or cable into a loop and then into the tin. The loop also makes a neck collar! Window weights are great because they are heavy. Window weights primary downfall is that they are heavy. When I say heavy, I mean like 4 pounds and up. Not ideal for walking in. Still, I like the window weights because the slim weight will fit down the side of the body once a decoy is in a slotted bag. But twelve 4 pound weights makes for a tough haul. Still, they're great if you have them. What I do, though, is take 12 inch segments of mono, place two  3 ounce egg sinkers on it, then crimp the loose ends together, making a futuristic looking neck collar. It's part function, part cheap - but quality - fix. It goes right over the head but the monofilament won't scratch or dent the decoy head or paint like an iron neck collar would. The crimp, though, could cause some scratching.

Nevertheless, there's hundreds of ways to anchor your decoys. Just make sure the line is long enough, and the anchor is heavy enough. There's cannonballs, bank sinkers, egg sinkers, coin sinkers, and pyramid sinkers - all available from 1 ounce to 64 ounces. I generally like to keep my anchors at about 6 ounces, though. I do have one alternative for single decoy lines, though. I pour concrete into 12 ounce cups...the result is a 3 pound anchor with a sharp lip to drag. I rarely use these, but they are cheap and easy to make. Eighty pounds of concrete mix is about $7. For a tie off point in the anchor, I stick a swivel or 5 inch fishing clip into the wet mix. Once cured, it's in there for good. Concrete, though, will crumble and suffer if left in salt water over a long period of time. Generally, my decoys are in the water a maximum of 5 hours. If I were setting a permanent spread, I would definitely use sailboat - or storm - anchors. They never, ever move. Come spring time, you'll have to dive down and dig them up, though. But permanent decoys spreads are lazy and effective only on migrating birds. Eventually, the local birds will view that spread as it would any other fixed item...items such as channel markers and buoys.

Anyway, there's a lot of heavy stuff out there. When picking an anchor, I determine how easy will it store, will it CAUSE knotting, and will it drag...those are my basic three factors...

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