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Differences Between a Dredge and a Detector

Differences Between a Dredge and a Detector

If you want to search for metal treasures and gold nuggets in the natural world, dredges and metal detectors are great tools to have on your side. To use them efficiently, though, you’ll need to know the differences between the two types of equipment. How do dredges and detectors work, and when should you use one over the other?

Dredges and Detectors Defined

First, let’s discuss what a dredge and a metal detector do.


A dredge, or suction dredge, is akin to a high-powered vacuum cleaner that helps you suck up materials from underwater environments. It pulls wet sand, gravel, and dirt up through a suction hose and deposits them into a header box for sifting.


You’re probably familiar with metal detectors. They’re handheld devices that detect the presence of metal objects buried in the ground. A detector won’t pull the object out of the ground for you, but it’ll alert you to its location.

Intended Uses

A dredge is specifically for underwater use. Detectorists and prospectors use 4-inch suction dredges to find tiny nuggets and particles of gold in streams, rivers, and other bodies of water.

Meanwhile, metal detectors are for use on dry land. Sweep your metal detector’s coil slowly and evenly across dry ground, and listen closely as the detector picks up signals from buried objects.

What They’ll Do for You

A suction dredge won’t beep at the presence of metal objects. The goal of a dredge is to give you a large volume of material and help you sift through it for gold particles. Using a dredge is a more in-depth process than going for a walk with your detector. You’ll do well to bring a buddy with you when you dredge for gold.

On the other hand, you can use metal detectors solo. If you feel like going for a short treasure hunt in the park or on the beach, then a detector is the way to go.

Wade deeper into the world of metal detecting and gold prospecting by learning the differences between a dredge and a detector. Choose the equipment that suits your treasure-hunting expedition most!

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