Today’s column is fashioned as a response to a question asked by one of our readers regarding the decoy jerk line rigs introduced in my November 16 article. His question: "With some field experience under your belt now, have you found it necessary to make any modifications to your basic jerk line setup?” In response, I emphatically stated, “Yes indeed and, here’s how I made them!”
The first modification that I made was to substitute a 1½-foot pointed iron rod in place of a canoe anchor at the terminal end of the rig. These inexpensive, drilled metal rods are available at your local hardware store in 1½ to 4-foot lengths. Through one of the existing holes near the top of the rod, I threaded a small eye hook to accept the open hook end of the bungee cord.
When setting the rig out, I wade across to the anchor point and drive the camouflage-painted rod into the stream bottom with a rock. Since the rod is lighter and considerably less bulky than my canoe anchor, it’s much easier for me to pack around. Another advantage the rod has over its sunken, anchor counterpart is that its elevated anchoring position applies significantly less downward pressure on the decoys. This allows the buoyant plastic birds to float more naturally, further enhancing the spreads appeal to their flesh-and-blood cousins.
After hooking the bungee cord to the secured rod, I unroll the paracord until I reach the first stringer clip. I then hook the painted clip to either the front or rear keel hole (depending on which way I want the deke to face) of the first decoy. Continue this process until all the decoys are tethered. By using a slip knot (rather than a permanent one) to secure the stringer clips, you’ll find that it is much easier and faster to add, remove, and rearrange your decoy placement.
Here’s a great idea: A reader named Jim J. suggested that I include at least one feeding decoy (bottoms up) to the tethered birds. Boy, was he right. Since reading his comment, I took the time to carefully observe several groups of relaxed feeding fowl. I noticed that every group contained several members that were actively dabbling (bobbing up and down in the water column to reach submerged food sources). The inclusion of a feeder adds a touch of realism to the spread and is already paying dividends with the number of additional birds being attracted to my sets. Thanks, Jim!
Now back to the setup. When I reach the opposite bank, directly in front of my blind, I drive a second iron rod in just below the waterline. Near the top of this second camouflage-painted rod is a carabiner ring that I clipped through its mounted eye hook. The purpose of this second iron rod and carabiner is to keep the jerk line inconspicuously submerged when I’m tugging on it.
The final modification was applied to the decoys themselves. On my very first outing, I discovered that if, in my excitement, I jerked too hard on the cord, the decoys would sometimes be tipped right over onto their sides. The circling birds let me know right away that this wasn’t cool. To remedy the problem, I drilled a hole through the center of each deke’s keel and attached a small lead decoy anchor. By moving the center of gravity much lower in the water, the decoys have proven to be much more stable, even under the whiplash thrashing of the jerk at the end of the line.
For convenience’s sake, I place all of the jerk rig components into an appropriately-sized burlap sack and set it atop the conventional decoys in my backpack. When I arrive at my blind location in the predawn darkness, everything’s within reach with no fumbling around required.
Next column: I’ll be highlighting two additional tips that will go a long ways toward enhancing the attraction-potential of your ever evolving decoy spread.
Rich Simpson can be reached at email@example.com.