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Having A Hard Time Detecting That First Nugget

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Editors Note: topic split from this prior thread.

Thanks John,

I'm getting frustrated by my Gold Bug Pro, I have spent many hours on it with no joy, I have the Nel Snake, Nel Sharpshooter, GBP 10", 5" and 11" coils for it and can't find a thing with it except junk, I have found plenty of small stuff with my sluice, I run the GBP over the sluiced bits of gold individually and it finds them if they're very close to the coil, no better than my Garrett EuroAce with Nel Tornado or T2 with the Mars Tiger (both big coils) I find the T2 with Tiger is better than the T2 with 5" T2 coil on small gold, and they seem to get the same depth or deeper on small gold as the GBP with the 5" and 10" and any other coil I throw at it.  The only detector I have that seems worse on small gold than the GBP is the Minelab Go-Find 40, it doesn't see small gold even if you touch the coil with it.

It's not a faulty Gold Bug Pro either, I have 2 of them as I got one for my wife, the likelihood of two faulty ones must be very low.  At the moment I think I'd do better with my T2 and Mars Tiger Coil, hits at a better depth on the small stuff but a bit harder for me to use being such a beginner.

It's highly likely it's my fault as I'm new to it all but it's frustrating in air tests when the other non-gold detectors seem to do just as well or better and makes me question using my GBP.

At the moment I'm getting much more joy out of sluicing as I find gold in every bucket, with my detectors I've found one small piece in months of trying.

I am very aware it's probably just me not knowing how to do it or the gold just not being there big enough for them to detect but it's still painful as I get reasonable recovery with sluicing so it ends up more fun and I want to use my detectors but find them a waste of time as all I find is scrap metal.  It's why I'm on the hunt for a tiny gold detector I guess so I don't give up on the detecting as I enjoy doing it.


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Hi Simon, Whats the GBP like on picking up shot gun pellets?  I have only used the higher frequency VLF's on gold. Like Whites GMT which is 48 khz & the model before it the Gold Master 4B which was 48-52 khz & the Gold Bug 2 which is 61 khz & finally the Gold monster at 45 khz. These machines all LOVE shot gun pellets & tiny gold. Although the tiny gold does need to be pretty close to the surface. Your GBP I believe is 19 khz, while maybe not super sensitive to tiny gold will hit deeper on slightly bigger gold at better depth than the higher frequency models. There is a trade off between frequency & size of gold & depth of gold. The higher the frequency the more deadly on small/tiny gold, but it needs to be closer to the surface. The lower the frequency the less sensitive to tiny gold but gets better depth on the bigger bits. There are many gold VLF machines at around the 19 khz frequency & for good reason. That frequency range is a good all rounder for gold size & depth on average. The smaller the coil too, the more sensitive it will be for small/tiny gold. Of course your ground coverage per sweep will be a lot less. So again, another trade off. I know there are quite a few people here in NZ who do really well with their GBP. Just a matter of getting into the right areas & targeting the right ground. Trouble is, there probably aren't many areas that haven't seen a detector these days. Unless you go real remote.

How deep are you digging to find your sluice box gold? If it is fine flood gold & down a few inches then there is fat chance a detector will pick up on it. You want to be targeting bed rock or very shallow ground with your GBP. We haven't had a decent flood in years in the Queenstown area to stir the rivers up & get that gold moving  & washed on down from up in the hills & re sorted & re deposited. I will send you a PM.

Good luck out there

JW   :smile:

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Thanks John,

That's encouraging, I think my sluice gold is just too small for it as its deeper down than the detector can see it which is why the T2 with Mars Tiger coil seems like it would be better at finding it, as it is hitting the same gold deeper on my air tests than the GBP with 5" or 10" or 6.5" or any other coil I put on it.

I think you're right, there just isn't the gold there for me to find that the detector is capable of finding, the sluice stuff is often big enough to be detected but it's a good 30cm to 50cm down which is why I'm not able to detect it I guess, there is nothing much on the surface.  I guess I just need to find a "spot" that hasn't been cleaned out by detectors already or wait for a big flood.

I had a girl come up to me a week or two ago while I was sluicing asking if I'd found much saying they found 5 ounce nugget after a big flood on shotover river last year without any tools, just sitting there while walking there dog.

I haven't found one shotgun pellet yet, plenty of bullet shells and countless tiny little scraps of metal, no bigger than a few mm, the size of a small nugget and reporting the same sorts of numbers so I get all excited over nothing every time.

I just need to keep trying I guess, but its hard to get motivated on it when I can sluice and do so well in comparison.


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Simon,  Nugget detecting is the hardest of all detecting (Coins/Relics/Jewelry) and most folks give up.  Now I am not wanting you to give up at all.  The GB-Pro will find small gold, but the higher kHz is ideal for the tiny bits and that is why the GB-2 at 71 kHz is KING.  Now some will say the GB-2 is hard to learn, well so was a bike the first few times.  Many people like the new Gold Monster 1000 as it is more User Friendly and just about as good to small gold as the GB-2. 

Go with the smallest coil you can get for the GB-Pro and be sure to keep the coil to the soil. 

Practice on 7 1/2 quail shot or even #8 Dove shot (make sure it is lead and not steel).

Also make sure you are ground balancing properly.

Photos of GB-Pro and GB-2 small gold.





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Thanks, the picture of the gold bug pro's 5" coil you have there with the small gold on it is the size i'm finding regularly with my sluice, except for the bigger piece on there.  I have thought long and hard about buying a GB2 or a Gold Monster but i've spent all this money on GB Pro's and accessory coils so I will keep trying with them and see how I go with more time.  I guess I will be forced to upgrade at some point.  A PI is out of my league financially for the hobby.

I will stick to it, and maybe I will find a better spot for hunting, that's my likely best solution.



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Practice with small lead targets.  If you still feel you are missing something, look info the Field Training we offer on Gold Detectors.  There are many folks on this forum who will be happy to share their Success Stories with you since their training.  We'll save you time and frustration and teach proper set up, different kinds of gold and how they respond to a variety of gold detectors and the sounds to ignore and go after,...plus much much more.




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Hi Simon, Don't get too beat up mate. They say the first nugget is the hardest one to find. Believe it or not some out there say it took them over a year to find there first detected gold. Now that is dedication. Personally I would encourage you to get out of the creeks & rivers & look for old timer gold workings where they brought water to the area via water races. Often these type of workings they didn't have enough water & so left gold behind. But what the old timers did was to wash off a lot of the overburden. Often to the bedrock.That is the type of ground you want to suss out. If you have a look at my posts on my gold finds you will not see any water for miles. Absolutely none where I am detecting, but the old timers had been there & found gold. A lot of places I go there was no water at all & the old timers dug prospect pits here & there in the gullies until they found a run of gold. They would then only pick the richest of the dirt & load into wagons & cart it for miles to the nearest water source & either cradle it or put the dirt through a sluice box. The dirt needed to be worth there while to do this & all too often they chucked gold out as they dug down to the pay layer. The beauty of there throw out piles is that the last shovels of dirt containing gold as they got down to there pay layer that they carted away is now on top of the piles on the ground where they left it. Just perfect for detecting.  My last post that I did last night shows just that scenario amongst the old timers prospect holes & turned over ground. My continuation of that post will be off similar ground up in the hills, but is ground they ground sluiced by bringing water down the ridge of the spurs in shallow ditches & just spilt the water either side of the spur to wash the ground. The gold they left behind was gold they didn't see that was caught up in cracks & crevices & not washed on through to their sluice boxes. They didn't have an abundance of water but they were pretty thorough with what they had. But they did leave gold behind in the bedrock.


JW :smile:  

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Thanks John, I won't be giving up any time soon, I'm just struggling with my lack of finds using metal detectors vs sluicing. Your advice is great, I just need to find better ground to search on.  I assume most of this good ground is in Central Otago? Nothing much around Southland? I have connections to quite a few landowners in Southland to get access to their land but it just doesn't seem to be ideal prospecting land compared to Central Otago.

I was thinking of trying this weekend but it seems like it's going to be too hot for me, I hate heat!  I just can't function with it too hot.



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26 minutes ago, Steve Herschbach said:

Most of us have been where you are and feel your pain, and are seriously rooting for you! :smile:

I completely agree with this comment by Steve and I am sure most of the people in this forum do as well.

Keep at it and you will succeed.

Good hunting!

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