Blue Moon's Jerk String 101

by Geryl Mortensen © 2007

We all know that motion is one of the key requirements to a great decoy spread. I always feel fortunate on those rare days when the same howling arctic wind that pushed waterfowl all the way down to my Republic of Texas Red River blind is still strong enough at legal shooting time to breathe life into my decoy spread.  More often than not, I watch smoke on the still water rise off my private waterfowl habitat in as legal shooting time dawns on another bluebird day…


The old duck hunters were wise and shortly after the use of live decoys were banned, they started to use jerk strings to provide motion to show life as well as keep ice broken in the landing zone.  We are fortunate to learn from their ways as well as to live in a time when products are readily available that allow us to easily make our own jerk string that are both effective as well as easy to manage.


While you can easily purchase a jerk string kit, it is very easy to make your own. Here are a few ideas that work well for me while afield.


Items that you need to build your Jerk String

Tangle proof decoy cord.  Pictured here is Hunter’s Specialties Quik-Rig Decoy Cord.  It is plastic, durable, sinks but will not tangle.  Any similar product will work but I do suggest the tangle free cord instead of nylon cord.


Depth Adjusters – Another Hunter’s Specialties product that is well suited for use with Quik-Rig Decoy Cord.  Similar products are available at REI in the rock climbing section but often cost more.


Brass Snap Swivels – size 3/0 – available at any place that sells fishing tackle, including the large discount stores.


Small Marine Anchor – I use ones that are for my Personal WaterCraft because I already have them available.   


Bungee Cord – 36 to 48 inches, needs to be small enough in diameter to fit through the anchor attach point when doubled up.


Determine how long your jerk string needs to be.  As a rule of thumb, 35 yards is a good length.  I always put out a pair of decoys 40 yards out from the blind as a visual reference to show effective range.  It's better to have the jerk string inside your shooting range as waterfowl will often land toward the rear third of the motion in the spread.  In other words, you don’t want your jerk string to be too long.


Step 1 -

Cut  35 yards of Decoy Cord off the spool. 

Step 2 –

Tie a 3/0 Brass Snap Swivel at one end of the cord.  Make sure you use a good knot because this will attach the cord to the anchor point so it needs to be strong or you could lose your anchor.

Step 3 –

Put on a plastic Depth Adjuster .

Step 4 –

Put on a 3/0 Brass Swivel – This will be used to attach to each decoy.

Step 5 –

Put on another plastic Depth Adjuster.  With the exception of the first brass swivel that is used for the anchor point, you want a plastic depth Adjuster on each side of every Brass Swivel that will attach to a decoy.  

The final jerk string looks like this - Brass Swivel for anchor, strong knot, Plastic Depth Adjuster, Brass Swivel, Plastic Depth Adjuster, Plastic Depth Adjuster, Brass Swivel, Plastic Depth Adjuster, Plastic Depth Adjuster, Brass Swivel, Plastic Depth Adjuster, repeat….

This allows you to easily position the decoys with proper spacing to resemble swimming waterfowl and it allows you to easily pull everything together for easy storage. 

Anchor & Bungee – Run the center of the bungee through the anchor attach point.  Attach the center of the bungee to the first swivel on the jerk string.  



Put out the anchor about 35 yards from the blind.  Space out decoys with plenty of space to resemble swimming waterfowl that you have seen scouting.  Below is an image that I captured of mallards in a single file.  Use this as an example of proper spacing for a single file jerk string.


Another spin on this is that if you use Mojos on a stake, if and only if the stake is rock solid in the ground with no chance of tipping over, you can attach the jerk string to the bottom of the Mojo stake instead of using an anchor.  You can purchase bungee cords that have a loop in the end and they work well in this scenario.

Your Mojo can get easily ruined if you pull it over into the water so be very cautions using this technique and it is always best to make sure that you are using an in-line fuse with any Mojo type product for this very reason.

Back in the day when I would hike in and did not want to carry an anchor, I would scout a place that had flooded timber and use a strong piece of flooded timber to tie the jerk string to.

A very large 3 foot rubber band also works well instead of a bungee but is not nearly as durable…  May you be blessed with wind but if not, may this help make your day afield more enjoyable.



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