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Are Coots the Ultimate Confidence Decoy?

Shane Smith

In the world of wanting ultra realistic decoys that encompass fully flocked, flocked heads and swiveling head decoys there is little talk of coot decoys. When hunters gather around the fire to talk decoys and strategy you are more likely to hear about decoy patterns such as an X or J hook. You will also hear about using Mallards and Canada goose decoys in your spread. What you won’t hear are hunters talking up their new spread of coot dekes.

coot decoys

I am going to give you 6 reasons you should give coot decoys a try this year.

  1. Coots= Visibility. From a distance you can see black further than you can see white. The virtually all black coots decoys can add a huge profile that ducks can see and key in on.
  2. Coots= Grass. When you see a large raft of coots, you bet your bottom dollar there is grass around. Whether it is duck weed, smart weed, coon tail, hydrilla, milfoil or whatever you can rest assured there is plenty of food. When the coots are pulling up the grass, it moves out smaller invertebrates that puddle and diving ducks feed on.
  3. Coots= Safety. If you see a flock of 200+ coots, other ducks know it is a safe place to land. That is over 400 eyes that are watching for birds of prey, land predators and yes, us hunters the 2 legged predators.
  4. Coots= Different. When was the last time you saw someone running a spread of 6 doz coot decoys? Honestly? As ducks migrate from Canada all the way down, how many mallard spreads do they see? Hundreds if not thousands. Try something different than the status quo to set yourself apart.
  5. Coots= Movement. When you see flocks of coots, they are constantly moving. They will be diving pulling grass, chasing each other and constantly thrashing the water. You will just about never see coots sitting still. When ducks are passing by, they will key in on the movement and let’s them feel secure they are real and provide security.
  6. Coots= Confidence. When I run a large coot spread it gives me a huge confidence boost that weary waterfowl will give my rig a double take and drop in for a shot. I have confidence in coots because I have seen single handedly how deadly and effective, they can be.

Ok, now we have gone over the why’s, let’s dive headfirst into the how and when’s.

When: I like to run coots when I am hunting larger grass flats that are places that ducks and coots congregate. The later the season rocks on the more coots I use in these areas. Anytime I feel as though high visibility is going to be a key component, I deploy coot blocks.

How: I will start with 4 dozen coots and go from there. I like to run a fairly clumpy spread with the coots. Like 4 in a small wad here and 5 in a small wad 10 yards over. Then I throw in a few mallards, pintail or diver dekes. Any and all of my regular duck decoys will be drakes. I already have the black color I want for visibility and now have the brightly colored drakes to pop against it. I routinely utilize 6-8 dozen coots with a mixture of 1 dozen drake decoys.

Parting Shots: More and more decoy companies are making coot decoys. Is it because people are wanting to draw in coots? Negative Ghost Rider. It is because they flat out will kill you more ducks. Fred Zink is a waterfowl industry professional and knows this all to well. That is why him and Avian X came out with their own ultra realistic coot decoys this year.


When it comes to coots decoys and their effectiveness nobody knows better than folks from Louisiana. Blake Soileau is the owner and operator of Full Strap and Stringer Guide Service located on historic Catahoula Lake in central Louisiana.

Full Strap and Stringer

When I asked Blake why he uses black jugs as coot decoys his answers were simple. “They help us kill more ducks. Our typical spread may consist of 400 black jugs along with 200 duck decoys. Blake explains that the jugs don’t have a keel and move a great deal with very little wind. Sometimes clients are caught off guard with all the jugs in the spread but are pleasantly surprised at their effectiveness.”

Break away from the norm this year and try a coot spread and see what you have been missing.

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