For 2020, I recommend these two metal detectors for nugget hunting on shallow exposed bedrock and between rocks and brush. They are the best on the market and are very sensitive to tiny gold.Minelab Gold Monster 1000 with the 5” x 10” concentric coilMinelab Equinox 800 with the small 6"round coil
In some situations, bigger is not better.
You will certainly get better depth with a large pulse induction metal detector and a large coil. No doubt, if you are seeking out big nuggets at depth, that is the proper setup for that type of hunting.
Large coils can work great in open areas like deserts of scanning tailing piles. But most of the time, the places that I hunt don’t suit a larger coil. And I find that more often than not I am reaching for one of my metal detectors with a smaller coil when I am looking for gold.
If the situation suits it, I will swing my Minelab GPX4500 with a 12” elliptical coil. This works well when I am detecting around rocks and brush, but it also has decent depth.
However, there are times when I want even more sensitivity to small gold, and I prefer an even lighter weight alternative to my bulky pulse induction machine.
Lightweight VLF Detector and Small Coils
When I am working my way up a dry gulley with lots of cactus, rocks and short scrub brush, I would much prefer a nice lightweight very-low frequency (VLF) detector. There are several good ones on the market, and they have several advantages to the bigger detectors.
First and foremost, a lightweight detector is a pleasure to swing compared to the big bulky units that are popular today. No need for any harnesses, bungee cords or anything like that. Just a detector and a digging pick and you are good to go.
With VLF detectors, I like to take advantage of their advanced sensitivity to small gold. Usually a smaller coil will run more smoothly and will detect even the little crumbs.
For many years the Fisher Gold Bug 2
was the detector of choice for most prospectors, but a couple new detectors have come out in recent years that are better in my opinion. Probably the most sensitive and easiest to use is the Minelab GOLD MONSTER 1000
You can use the small 5” round coil or a 5” x 10” elliptical coil. Both are super sensitive. The elliptical covers twice as much ground and I prefer it simply because I feel it can detect small nuggets every bit as well as the round coil.
The Minelab Equinox 800 is my second choice, and if you are also looking for a detector that you can use to find coins and relics then it would be my first choice. It is a true multi-purpose detector that works very well on smaller gold. To get the most out of it, buy the additional 6" round coil
. It is an absolute sniper
on little crumby gold that most other detectors will go right over without making a sound.Also Read: Finding Gold in Quartz Rock
"Advanced" Detecting Methods & Tips
A sensitive gold detector paired with a small, sensitive coil is a killer combination. Yet, there are still some tips that I want to give you to increase your odds of success. Even with a great setup, you need to hunt properly to get the most out of your detector.Bedrock
- On small nuggets, you should only expect to go about 4” deep or so. Don’t plan on having much success swinging over barren dirt. You need to search that exposed bedrock. Scan slowly over visible cracks. Scrape and scrub from different directions. You might be surprised how many little nuggets are hiding on that bedrock.Go Kick Rocks
- Especially in areas that have been hunted hard by other detectorists, I like to kick bigger rocks aside with my foot. Rocks can hide a lot of gold! Most people just lift their coil over them, but moving them aside lets you get the coil several inches closer to the ground. You’ll find more gold this way.Crawl Around
- You can’t hunt the same spots that everyone else does and expect to have much success. You have to hit the areas that others avoid. That might mean that you have to get down and work some nasty, brushy areas. I’ve spent a lot of time underneath thick manzanita bushes searching for gold. It isn’t fun, but I have success there because other people avoid it.Go Slow
- It doesn’t matter what detector you are using… you need to move slow and listen for those faint target signals. This is especially important with smaller gold nuggets. If they are even a few inches below the surface then you will probably only hear a whisper. If you’re moving too fast you will miss them.Next: Patch Hunting Method for Gold Nuggets