Underwater Gold Sniping: a Low-Cost Approach to Getting the Gold (Part 8)

(Using a "snipe" tube I spotted and recovered a very pretty little nugget sitting atop bedrock on the opposite bank at this location along California's N. Yuba River.)

In my previous post on underwater gold sniping, I listed a number of equipment items that you should probably consider if you're thinking of using the second sniping approach. Here are a few more suggestions for you:

Fanning board: These are really basic...so basic, in fact, that your hands themselves are fanning boards of a sort. A fanning board is used to (yep, you guessed it) to "fan" lighter material away underwater once you've removed an obstruction like a large rock, layers of gravel, or are pulling out crevice paydirt. Don't underestimate the value of this simple, easy-to-use tool which is usually a small, rectangular or square piece of thin wood or high-impact plastic. Be creative here and experiment with your design first...try rigging up a handle or gripper surface on the top end of your fanning board. Oh, and remember to drill a hole at one corner of the board's upper end...that way you can run a looped line or small-diameter bungie cord through it and attach it to your wrist.

Strapworks.com - any strap, any length, any color!
Tool pouch or belt: Unlike using a "snipe" tube, when you're diving for gold or face down pulling yourself along a streambed searching likely spots, a 5-gallon tool bucket may or may not do the job for you. If you use a bucket for your tools, snifter bulbs, tweezers, etc., you'll have to set it someplace where it won't be swept away and then go back and forth to retrieve items. It's easier to have your crevicing tools close at hand and how you do that is up to you. Again be creative here...a carpenter's tool belt? A pouch tied around your waist or slung over a shoulder? Whatever works. (In California's Motherlode region I've actually seen a few underwater snipers use floats much like those used by shallow water metal detectorists...some of these were store bought and some were jury rigged.)

 (Armed with a face mask, snorkel, and crevicing tool my son Shane checks for gold underwater in a deep pool behind this large boulder. Frigid water and no wet suit...great to be young, isn't it!?)

Gloves: Go to Home Depot, Lowes, or your favorite little hardware store and get yourself multiple pairs of those cloth gloves that have rubberized coating on the palm side of the hand. These are flexible enough to give you a bit of dexterity underwater and they're relatively cheap to boot. Their main problem is they don't hold up well to the abuse caused by sand, grit, rock, gravel, and water in combination. Or, alternately, if you've found another type of glove that works well underwater...more power to you my friend.

CAUTION: Never enter a stream to snipe for gold underwater alone. Use the "buddy system" when employing this approach, especially if you're working deeper water. No amount of gold in this transitory world of ours is worth your life...that's just plain common sense. To paraphrase Forrest Gump here: "Stupid is as stupid does."

Don't get stupid on me, OK?

Best of luck to you.

If you liked this post, you may want to read: "Basic Characteristics of Canadian Placers and Placer Gold"

Questions? E-mail me at jr872vt90@yahoo.com


  1. Great information. Thanks, JR.


  2. You're very welcome Keith. Thanks for stopping by. J.R.

  3. I hope to gold-pan in Eastern Ontario later this summer.
    Advice on goldpan selection would be helpful.
    Thanks for the great blog.

  4. You're most welcome. For my money the Garret "Gravity Trap" series of goldpans are the best. I like to use the Garrett "Super Sluice." Best of luck to you out there! J.R.


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