My personal opinion would be quality decoys. Early in the season I tend to mimic the flock sizes that inhabit the area I am hunting. Later in the season I have been known to put a hundred plus blocks out, yet still maintaining a high standard for quality.
Pete Thrubis: Diver Duck hunting...Quantity. Puddle duck hunting...quality. Geese...both. Divers like big numbers later in the season. Puddle ducks will land in 2 doz good looking blocks from the opener until the marsh is freezing up. And Geese. They need it all. IMO.
Duke Montgomery: I like quality but do mix some filler killers in with them to draw the new ducks. Open water hunter
I prefer quality. I will do the same as Ryan and match what I see. But then again in late season for honkers in the field I will fill in some older mag shells with my full bodies. I know some guys that hunt with only silhouettes, and some that run only shells or full bodies. It's all personal preference, and if it kills birds stick with it.
I'm shure everybody prefers quality but I think you can do good with some cheap decoys set up right I like to hunt lake st Clair and you usually need alot of decoys to get them within wadeing distance from shore and with all my hobbies money is tight so I have a bunch of flambeu decoys they are cheap but I like them. The cheaper the quality the more motion I would add to the spread though, quiver mags and jerk cords.
I think that cheep decoys will do if you are trying to pull them in for a pass shot, but if you want them in your face you need to have quality decoys. When it comes to geese I would say have at least 2 dozen GOOD decoys and the rest will make for good fillers. The larger the spread the more GOOD decoys you will want to add and make them your front runners....The decoys that will be seen the best.
I would like to add that when you are using a jerk string or any other means of movement on the water, quality is definitely a must. Those are the dekes they will be looking at.
I would have to agree with Ryan Cote. "Quantity": I use as little decoys as i can in the earlier part of the season. There is only so many birds around and how often do you think they have seen 3 or 4 dozen in a group that time of year? Then later when the migration is in full swing put out the bigger numbers thats what those birds are use to. "Quality": Now this is also debatable. To me do you have to have the most expensive realistic decoys on the market? "NO" Most and a lot of people can't afford them. But what u can do is get old used decoys and repaint them and make them look brand new. If you are going to do this start in the summer or spring. Don't rush yourself thats when you might paint them all wrong and not notice till it's to late. And you never know you might just paint the best decoys ever.
I have to go with quality, Most of us duck hunters can't afford to go and buy dozens and dozens of decoys, so when I do spend the money, I want a decoy that will last for years, not one season. I have been hunting for forty years, and have used most every decoy on the market from the cheapest, to the most expensive, even home made. It isn't so much how the birds react to the decoy, I have taken birds over car tires cut in half, and jugs painted black and white. I would rather pay a little more for dozen great quality decoy, than four dozen cheap ones that I will have to repaint and patch leaks at the end of the season.