"Our best winds for working ducks are northwest, west, and southwest, and with this setup they'll hook around and land in the open hole between the two spreads," DeLang explains. He adds that this setup doesn't work as well on an east wind, but the breeze blows rarely from this direction in southeast Iowa.
DeLang ties his decoys with heavy parachute cord and anchors them individually with home-poured concrete anchors "the size of a Styrofoam beer cup." He says the heavy weights are necessary for days when the wind or river currents kick up.
"I like to set each decoy individually instead of running them on long lines the way some open-water hunters do," DeLang continues. "I think the random spread looks more natural. I cut my anchor lines four feet long (again, for two-and-a-half feet of water), and I set my decoys two feet apart. This way, when the wind changes, all the decoys can swing together without tangling."
Two major problems with this type of spread are ice and rising water. "When ice begins forming, we start pulling decoys," DeLang says. "If it gets really icy, we'll pick up all the decoys, then put out what we want to hunt over each day. If we leave 'em out, ice floes will carry them down the river."
DeLang does likewise when the water level begins rising. "When the water comes up, logs and debris will snag our decoys and scatter them from here to St. Louis. So we keep a careful watch during a rise, and we pick up the decoys if we have to." DeLang has a system for quick decoy pickup. "I attach a snap swivel to each anchor, and when I pick up a decoy, I just unsnap the weight and then put the decoy in the pile without winding up the cord. Those heavy parachute cords won't tangle. This system is faster than wrapping the anchor and string around each decoy."
One thing DeLang is fastidious about in his open-water spread is keeping decoys untangled. "I hate the sound of decoys bumping together. With the way we rig our set, we usually don't get many tangles unless there's a big blow. But when tangles happen, I straighten them out. Tangles might not bother the ducks as much as they bother me, but I don't tolerate 'em!"