Spinning Wing Decoys: Do Hunters Still Use Them?

When spinning wing decoys were first introduced to the waterfowl world, hunters swore by their effectiveness. So much so that some states banned any motorized spinning wing decoys used for hunting. After becoming popular in the past 10-15 years, many hunters have taken a step back and started second guessing whether or not these decoys still fool ducks into their spread. This article is not an absolute argument concerning the use of spinning wing decoys. Instead, these are my observations after hunting the Mississippi Flyway for 10 years.

Do spinning wing decoys flare waterfowl

Spinning wing decoys can flare waterfowl in certain situations across all flyways. Most migrating waterfowl have seen thousands of them when flying across their respective flyway. As a result, birds can become uneasy around them and oftentimes ignore them altogether. On the other side of the argument, many hunters still believe they are crucial to bagging more waterfowl and will use them across all types of setups.

After being around many duck and goose hunters, I believe the overall conclusion is spinning wing decoys are not effective while goose hunting. Therefore, this article will focus exclusively on using a spinning wing decoy while duck hunting.


When should you use a spinning wing decoy

Sunny daysYes
Cloudy daysNo
Public landYes/No
Unpressured ducksYes
Pressured ducksNo
Field hunting ducksYes
Flight dayYes
Early in morningYes
Late in afternoonNo
This chart explains certain types of hunting situations and when using a spinning wing decoy is effective.

Using spinning wing decoys on public land

Spinning wing decoys can be highly effective on public land, or can cause ducks to flare from you setup before it is time to shoot. Depending on your location, how pressured the birds are, and what other hunters are doing should determine whether or not you use spinning wing decoys. I have found that if other hunters are using this type of decoy and the birds are highly pressured, it is best to turn yours off and try a different tactic. If you are in a more secluded area on public land, using several spinning wing decoys can grab the ducks’ attention and make them more likely to come to your spread.

Are hunters shooting more ducks than they used to?

Using spinning wing decoys on cloudy days

On cloudy days, ducks are able to see better and the movement from a spinning wing decoy does not appear to be realistic to a duck. Without the sun to create shadows and a reflection on the water, a duck is able to pick out unrealistic motion in a decoy spread. I have found that using a splashing decoy or jerk string works better on cloudy days.


Using spinning wing decoys in a field for ducks

Using spinning wing decoys while duck hunting in a field is a highly effective tactic that hunters across all flyways take advantage of. In many instances, hunters will use 6-12 of them when duck hunting in a field. By using this many, hunters are able to imitate ducks moving around in a field to find food. I believe using this type of decoy while duck hunting in a field is the most important strategy to utilize.

By far our favorite spinning wing decoys to use in dry fields are the Lucky Duck Field Flashers. Each package includes everything you need: 3 filed flashers, 3 sets of wings, 3 ground stakes, and a remote control. Click on the image below to check out reviews and pricing on Amazon:

Duck hunting dry fields: strategies and setups

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How many spinning wing decoys should you use

The number of spinning wing decoys hunters should use in their spread depends on who you ask. The table below displays the number of them I have found effective in each situation. This data is based off observations while hunting different conditions.

Hunting CircumstanceNumber of spinning wing decoys
Public land0-6
Field hunting6-12
Pressured ducks0-2
Unpressured ducks0-5
Diver duck hunting2-5
Flight day3-6
This chart lists duck hunting circumstances and how many spinning wing decoys hunters should use.

Spinning wing decoys vs. Jerk string

The use of a jerk string is a common supplement to using a spinning wing decoy while duck hunting. That said, each have their advantages and disadvantages. The lists below compare the use of a spinning wing decoy versus a jerk string.

How far to lead a duck: Tables and charts of comparisons


Spinning wing decoys

  • Can see from a long distance
  • Portable
  • Stand out against competition
  • Imitate landing/moving ducks
  • Gets ducks’ attention

Jerk string

Click on the image below to check out reviews and Amazon pricing for our go to jerk cord rig.


Spinning wing decoys

  • Not effective in all situations
  • Expensive
  • Ducks can be wary around them
  • Bulky to pack with other gear

Jerk string

  • Not as noticeable from a distance
  • String can get tangled
  • Not dog friendly
  • Requires a person to create motion
  • Realistic motion
  • Cheap
  • Can use decoys you already own
  • Stand out against other motion decoys
  • Can keep a hole in the ice open

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