Hunters who call over long distances, such as open lakes and big rivers, should select a call that is louder and higher in pitch so the notes will carry farther. Conversely, hunters who call mostly to close ducks in environments like flooded timber, potholes, and beaver ponds should pick a call that is softer in volume and pitch. In these environments, "reach" is less important, and sounding "ducky" is more important.
"Choosing between a single-reed and a double-reed call is a matter of personal preference," Dunn says. "Single-reed calls have more range and are more versatile than double-reed calls, but they are also a little more difficult to master.
Double-reed calls take more air to blow and don't have as much range as single-reed models. But most double-reed calls have a ‘sweet spot' that sounds very realistic to passing ducks."
Most duck calls sold today are made of acrylic, wood, or polycarbonate. Acrylic is very dense, and Dunn says acrylic calls are typically sharper and louder than those made of wood or polycarbonate. Many open-water calls are acrylic.
Wooden calls are usually softer and mellower than acrylic calls, and they are a good choice for close-up calling situations. Polycarbonate (molded plastic) calls fall between acrylic and wood for sharpness and loudness.