There are many factors to consider when choosing the best duck decoys in addition to paint colors, scheme, and cost. Size, type of keel, species, construction, durability, and weight are all factors that should be considered when building different spreads.
While the obvious difference between Lifesize(standard), Over-Sized (magnums), or Super Magnums is size and cost many hunters neglet to consider the visibility offered by the larger sizes. Unless I have to pack in for a long distance magnum decoys are my top choice. When it comes right down to it, the purpose of using duck decoys is to attract distant ducks, and then pull them into shotgun range. But if the ducks can't see your decoys from a distance then their not of much benefit to you. This is our reasoning for using magnum and super magnum sizes.
With movement being a key element in any successful spread water keels still have their place on days with light winds. A water keel decoy will move in the slightest of breezes. Water keels are also the lightest option for walk-in hunters and offer the greatest degree of mobility. The disadvantages are that on windy days they bob unrealistically on the water and do not self-upright in the water when tossed.
Duck decoys with weighted keels have the benefits of self-righting when tossed in the water along with riding the water the better in high winds without rolling. On the other hand carrying a bag full of weighted keel decoys on your back is much heavier in comparison to water keels.
When making this decision think about the types of water you will most often be hunting. For example on shallow marshes water keels will the best choice.
Many new duck hunters ask the question what specie of duck decoys should I buy? Ducks decoy best to the same specie they are. When hunting mallards you need to use mallard decoys. If you are hunting bluebills you will want to use bluebill decoys. Even with over a 100 decoys set out of mallards, pintail, and wood ducks, I have observed wood ducks consistently landing with the wood duck decoys and the mallards with the mallard decoys.
From my experience hunting over full body and shells on motion stakes in grain fields and along sand bars on rivers I have never observed a noticeable difference in performance. A big difference however is mobility and storage as shells are stackable. Without a doubt it is far easier to carry on foot or boat more shell decoys than full bodys. When using shell decoys I highly recommend using motion stakes as this really increases the visibility of to distant ducks and makes the decoy look more realistic.
Having the right duck decoys for the situation you're hunting along with the right species will make a huge difference in your success during the hunting season. But also just as important is how you set up your spread. If your not sure how be sure to read our duck decoy spreads section.