Diver Hunting Puddlers

Duck hunting for diver species like Canvasbacks, Redheads, Ringnecks, Eiders, Goldeneye and other diver ducks.

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Diver Hunting Puddlers

Postby KyMike » Sat Oct 12, 2013 7:35 pm

Advice from the experienced is welcomed. We are starting to hunt lakes this year. I'm in Central KY. We will mostly be targeting mallards, wigeons, black ducks, pintail, wood ducks and some teal. We do get divers (bluebills, redheads, cans and others) moving through during the year.

Here's what we have at our disposal. Up to 12 dozen puddlers (mallards, black ducks, wigeons and pintails), a dozen goose floaters, boat blind, aquapods and layout field blinds. Some of the decoys need a repaint and can be repainted as divers. We're also making 2 net rigs. They should hold up to 4-5 dozen decoys per net.

Should we go big in the early part of the season to attract anything flying? Will divers come to a puddle duck spread? How do you put out a puddles/diver mixed spread? Can we hunt in field blinds from the bank or do we need to be out in the lake with the pods or boat blind? Any other advise is welcome.

I'm used to hunting sloughs, ponds and small rivers, this is all new to me.
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Re: Diver Hunting Puddlers

Postby chrispbrown271 » Mon Oct 14, 2013 5:44 am

Divers will certainly come to an all puddler spread. From what I have seen and read goldeneyes are the only duck that is particular about what species it will sit with. If you have some old decoys and are inclined get some cheap spray paint and paint them up black and white for some divers. Sit the divers on one side and puddlers on the other side. You can kill divers from the bank....its best to find a point that juts out into the main lake and set up there so they cut the point and give you an close shot. I typically put out no more than 2 or 3 dozen decoys and have no issues killing divers, but I don't pull the big flocks. Singles, doubles, and groups of up to 5 or 6 birds are what I get.
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Re: Diver Hunting Puddlers

Postby KyMike » Mon Oct 14, 2013 11:08 am

Thanks for the info Chris. I was wondering about the big spread because there will be some competition on the lake. I thought about a big spread early season then start trimming down later in the year.
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Re: Diver Hunting Puddlers

Postby Nelliboy2 » Mon Oct 14, 2013 8:08 pm

KyMike wrote:Thanks for the info Chris. I was wondering about the big spread because there will be some competition on the lake. I thought about a big spread early season then start trimming down later in the year.


Yes, that's what we do to a degree. New birds in the area we run large spreads. Old stale birds small life like spreads. Do whatever everyone else isn't......if that mean running a 100% goose rig than do it. They see 50 spreads that look the same, might as well see if you can fool them by mixing it up.
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Re: Diver Hunting Puddlers

Postby KyMike » Tue Oct 15, 2013 1:11 am

I hadn't thought about that. Makes sense thought. New birds-big spread. Stale birds-small spread with the best decoys. Thanks man.
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Re: Diver Hunting Puddlers

Postby Nelliboy2 » Tue Oct 15, 2013 2:41 pm

What's a net spread? Also if you trying to kill puddle ducks run 2 dozen or less divers. A rule of thumb for me is divers will decoy into puddle duck decoys but very rarely will puddle ducks decoy into divers.....usually only gaddies will....they might as well be a diver because they are always piling into coots that are in open water. They actually will steal food from divers/coots when they come up with it.
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Re: Diver Hunting Puddlers

Postby KyMike » Tue Oct 15, 2013 5:45 pm

More great info to ponder. Thanks.

A net rig is when you rig decoys to a minnow seine or other type of gill net. You anchor the 4 corners of the net. Ideally the net will disappear under the water. YouTube it, there are several videos. You will see guys setting 6+ dozen decoys in under 2 minutes. Pick up is just a bit longer, like 5 minutes. As each decoy is not carrying an individual weight, your load is a bit lighter. I'm using mostly water keel decoys on the nets to make it as light as possible.
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Re: Diver Hunting Puddlers

Postby Nelliboy2 » Tue Oct 15, 2013 9:45 pm

OK I searched it and I am decently interested. How do you keep it from tangleing/ hanging up on everything in the boat?

Also what do you keep your nets in so that you can take them in and out of the boat in between hunts? I've always just long lined them in deeper water but this would be way faster.
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Re: Diver Hunting Puddlers

Postby KyMike » Wed Oct 16, 2013 1:37 am

We are figuring that out too. I will probably just keep the net(s) in the boat most of the time instead of taking them out. Some people connect the decoys to the net with zip ties or clips so there won't be that big of a tangling problem. If you start making longer dropper lines I would think that tangling would be a huge issue.
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Re: Diver Hunting Puddlers

Postby Nelliboy2 » Wed Oct 16, 2013 6:58 am

Roughly how much would a net cost. I would think you could one carry 2 so they don't tangle. I'm trying to imagine how that would work when you have layouts aboard. When you get your rig up and running can you send me some pics of you decoy rigging and how you store them in the boat I.e. do you roll them up or no etc?

If you use water keels as you have mentioned above do you think that the weight of the net is enough to flip your decoys over so they are right side up?
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Re: Diver Hunting Puddlers

Postby LeakyBoot » Wed Oct 16, 2013 7:46 am

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Re: Diver Hunting Puddlers

Postby Black Smoke » Wed Oct 16, 2013 9:34 am

You think you could use a net that is black? Like a net that is used for bird (flight) pens? Just something I have laying around thats why I ask.
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Re: Diver Hunting Puddlers

Postby KyMike » Wed Oct 16, 2013 10:39 am

The nets we bought were 10 x 15 and are about $30-$40. Check eBay. Plan on piling the net as we pull it in. Hopefully the weight of the net can keep the decoys upright. If not we can weight the net. We will see how it goes. Thanks for the link. There's a lot of good info there.
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Re: Diver Hunting Puddlers

Postby Nelliboy2 » Wed Oct 16, 2013 11:13 am

I am seriously considering this for next season. Do you think it matter how many nets you pile on top of one another as long as you keep the anchors separate? I was wanting to spread out the decoys a little more than what is in the pictures (maybe 36-40 on a net that size???). In order to do that I can either buy a larger net or use more smaller ones. I would opt for more smaller ones so that I can change the way the set looks and the net position in them, hopefully that makes sense. I would still think adding in some singles would help also.

I actually bet it will be deadly on puddle ducks in the open water if you spread them out a bit. I like the group look I get with singles but it is a nightmare to pick up in a chop. I was thinking by spreading the decoys out a bit it would give me the look of individuals but with a lot more speed in setting up.
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Re: Diver Hunting Puddlers

Postby ducks385 » Wed Oct 16, 2013 1:18 pm

here is how i set up for a mix hunt i set divers out farther about 25 yards or so then set my puddlers at about 10-15
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Re: Diver Hunting Puddlers

Postby KyMike » Wed Oct 16, 2013 2:04 pm

Smoke, I think I black would be fine as long as the water is not gin clear.

385, that is an impressive spread. Are they all single rig? The tail of the divers loos like a gang rig? How long does it take to set out? This is turning into a great thread.
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Re: Diver Hunting Puddlers

Postby Nelliboy2 » Wed Oct 16, 2013 3:34 pm

ducks385 wrote:here is how i set up for a mix hunt i set divers out farther about 25 yards or so then set my puddlers at about 10-15


I rotate my spread so that I have the classic J or W shape. Divers I will place on one side or the other. I usually try to make a ball of them on either side of the spread. I don't like to place them infront of my puddle ducks as they will tend to short stop me. If I'm only running a handful of divers I will place them at the tip on the Hook if I have a J or on either the right or left tip on the W.

p.s. If I could only run one type of diver decoy it would be a toss between a GE or a buffie. I find that just about any diver will decoy into anything white and black...heck they will even decoy into puddle duck decoys. GE are highly raciest birds. That's why I run mostly GE decoys in small spreads.
If money talks; then I got a lot to say i'm on the grind trying to make a hundred thousand dollars a day! We play with big cash and we blowin money fast. I need a G for every light bulb on the Vegas strip!!!
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Re: Diver Hunting Puddlers

Postby Nelliboy2 » Wed Oct 16, 2013 3:40 pm

KyMike wrote:Smoke, I think I black would be fine as long as the water is not gin clear.

385, that is an impressive spread. Are they all single rig? The tail of the divers loos like a gang rig? How long does it take to set out? This is turning into a great thread.


A gang rig depending on your setup you can have a line out in less than 10 mins. I have the rig'em rights 150' mainlines with gang clips on my decoys. I also have a spool of shorter lines that hold a dozen I use to break up the spread a bit. We will deploy the layouts. As a Idle up wind of them the other two guys will be unwrapping decoys and throwing the clips in the water and making a pile of decoys on the side we run the line off of. I will spin the boat broadside and kill the engine, the goal here is to drift towards where ever you want your line to be. At that point it is as simple as clipping the decoy to the line and throwing it over board. I then will idle it into position and repeat. It will usually take me about 45 min to set 2 layouts and 7 mainlines...roughly 140 blocks out.
If money talks; then I got a lot to say i'm on the grind trying to make a hundred thousand dollars a day! We play with big cash and we blowin money fast. I need a G for every light bulb on the Vegas strip!!!
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Re: Diver Hunting Puddlers

Postby suicidal_scaup » Wed Nov 06, 2013 8:56 pm

I made my net rig out of a 4'x15' minnow seine. T keep the net spread well, I put a piece of PVC on each end and zip tied them to the net. This allows me to use one anchor per end and the net stays open so the decoys don't touch (some are only a few inches away from each other. I like using it. I even have a couple decoys that have holes in them and the other decoys keep them up. I plan to make another one or two. We just bought a house and there was a beat up old trampoline in the back yard with a net surround on it. Trashed the trampoline and kept the net. May cut it down into two or may keep it big. I hunt by myself often and I'm not sure how easy it would be to put out on my own... Also lakes in Minnesota get fairly deep quickly so I would need long anchor lines and using 4 anchors could get ugly...
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Re: Diver Hunting Puddlers

Postby KyMike » Thu Nov 07, 2013 6:38 pm

Scaup. Got any pics of it in and out of the water?
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Re: Diver Hunting Puddlers

Postby suicidal_scaup » Sat Nov 09, 2013 5:54 pm

Not any good ones...I will see what I can do to get one.
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