This question seems to come up about 4-5 times a week and indicates a good understanding that making-it-up-as-you-go ain't the best way to reach your destination.
There's maybe 20+ authors of such which include everything from puppy development to field trial style marking ability (perhaps a sticky someday for easy author googling). Some are deep, some are shallow, some are DVD, some are books, some are both. Some are better for true newbies and some are better if you know a little bit already.
So the 'best one' is largely dictated by factors not explained by the poster when he/she asks the question. Most people don't know what they want or what they need - normal - so it can be helpful to drill into the program/author site and read through what a various program offers and match, as best you can, with your knowledge and interest.
ONE month at a Professional gundog trainer is between 400-700 bucks and money well spent with a good trainer. That said - if that's not your path or money prohibits - accept that a single DVD at 20 bucks only gets you so far. Training doesn't have to cost a bunch but it does cost more than most might originally think - assuming you want to educate yourself.
I've purchased DVD's of which very little appealed to me in terms of the training they presented but with each, I did learn something. So while it's best to follow a 'method' or 'course' of training it's still valuable to understand a different perspective.
The BEST program today may not be the BEST program for you a year from now. To get the best investment in an initial purchase, I would think through your goals (as best you can) and associate that to what you believe a particular program to be about.
* Am I waterfowling AND upland hunting
* How many times per week am I willing to train
* How committed am I
* How much money can I justify
* Do I think I'll accept the premise of e-collar training versus non-e-collar training
* Do I know what I want my dog to be able to do (what is handling, what are blinds, how does that affect my hunting goals)
* If I get a 3 DVD set that takes me from 8 weeks thru 18 months - will I realistically follow that program all the way through
* Do I learn better by reading or watching
* What's the difference between a Master Hunter and a Meat dog
* Do I have a Lab, Chessie or Weimaraner
* How much do I already know
The point I hope to make is that choosing the right program is the 1st step in taking control of your training life and making informed decisions and commitments based on what you want - and are decided to achieve. The more you drill into methods and authors the more you become exposed to things not previously considered and new thoughts/questions arise before dropping the dollars.
The list below prepared by Swampbilly1980 represents most of the material available today (without favour) and indicates DVD/Book or both. There really aren't any more tips and tricks to getting a program than there are to training a dog so hopefully this start on your research is valuable. Chances are if you enjoy retriever training and begin to find success - you'll utilize the methods and approaches of several authors.
*Sound Beginnings by Jackie Mertens
*Puppy Training by Bill Hillman
*Mike Lardy-Total Retriever Training (DVD/Hard Copy Series)
*Rick Stawski-Fowl Dawgs (DVD Series)
*Evan Graham-SmartWorks (DVD Series/book series)
*Danny Farmer/Judy Aycock-Problems and Solutions/Training Basics (DVD)
*Chris Akin-Duck Dog Basics (DVD)
*George Hickox-Upland & Retriever Training (DVD Series)
*Butch Goodwin -Retrievers from the Inside Out. (CD/Hard Copy)
*Bill Hillmann -Training a Retriever Puppy (DVD)
*James Spencer-Retriever Train Series (Hard Copy)
*Tom Dokken-Retriever Training (Hard Copy)
*Rex Carr/Dave Rorem-Art /Science of Handling Retrievers (DVD/Hard Copy Set) & Carr Training Seminar (DVD Set)
*Shawn Dustin-Retriever Fever (DVD Series)
*Jim Dobbs-TriTronics Retriever Training (Hard Copy) & Trained Retrieve I&II (DVD)
*Richard Wolters-Water Dog, Gun Dog, Game Dog (Hard Copy)
*Tom Quinn's "The Working Retriever" (Hardcopy)
*Mike Gould's "The Labrador Shooting Dog" (Hardcopy)
British Style Hunting/Test
*Robert Milner -Retriever Training (Series Hard Copy)
*Mike Stewart -Wildrose Retriever Training (DVD/Hard Copy)
*Martin Deely- Gundog Training( Hard Copy Series)
*Vic Barlow –British training for American Retrievers (Hard Copy)
* Susan Scales - Retriever Training the Modern Way (Hard Copy)
Misc Gundog Training
*Jackie Merten -Sound Beginnings Puppy/Young dog (Hard Copy)
*John/Amy Dahl -Retriever Troubleshooting, The 10 minute Retriever (Hard Copy)
*DL & Ann Walters -Training Retrievers to Handle (Hard Copy)
*James Lamb Free -Training Your Retriever (Hard Copy)
*Vickie Lamb (Trainer/Author/Contributor)
Proudly owned by "HR A hunters dream of Westwind JH"
I quote HNTFSH ****Hunting is a form of training but not the first wave of it. *****