Dan Marsiglio

The unwavering V wake left behind a traditional duck decoy set on a river is the epitome of unnatural. It’s a simple matter, however, to teach those blocks to swim left and right astride the current so that from altitude greenheads can’t tell the difference.

You have two options: a water keel, which features a hollow keel designed to fill with water to add stability; or a weighted keel, which is usually filled with sand to make the decoy stable as well as self-righting. Water-keel models work best, but weighted keels can be customized by popping the end cap, dumping the sand, and cutting off the front edge.

The Retrofitting Process

Drill a 1⁄4-inch hole through the water keel 4 inches behind the original anchor point; this is the new tie-off point. For a weighted-keel tie-off, use a propane torch to heat a fence staple held in a Vise-Grip until red-hot. Insert the heated staple into the bottom of the keel 4 inches back. The hot metal slips in easily and seals the plastic, preventing leaks. A dab of clear silicone provides insurance.

On the Water

The leading edge of the keel ****now acts like the lip on a crankbait. When current hits this “lip,” it pushes the decoy to one side. When the deke reaches the end of the cord, the block hesitates, then swims back to the other side. Seen from above, the wake is constantly changing, just as if created by the real thing. Because water force is greater on the modified decoys than on in-line keels, use 8-ounce anchors when setting the spread. Four swimmers per dozen is a good ratio–any more and you’re asking for tangle trouble.