The Fisher Gold Bug Pro has been on the market for several years now, and it has proven itself to be a very capable at finding gold nuggets. What I have really come to enjoy when using it is how well the target ID feature works on it. Most areas that I hunt are moderately to extremely trashy, and being able to reasonably identify what the target is in the ground is really beneficial.
The Gold Bug Pro is on par with most other VLF detectors that are designed for finding gold nuggets when it comes to depth. It has obvious limitations at depth when compared to a detector using pulse induction technology. Most targets that I dig with it are 10” in less in the ground.
Of course a larger piece of metal will sound off at much deeper than that, but the typical gold nugget weighing up to a few grams is usually found within that top 10”. The smaller flakes and “crumbs” are generally limited to within a few inches of the surface.
As for sensitivity, this detector is often compared to its predecessor, the Gold Bug 2. The GB2 has been around for nearly 20 years now, and has a legendary reputation for its extreme sensitivity to small gold. I have seen it detect small bits of placer that were so small they wouldn’t even register on a digital scale.
My personal experience has been that the Gold Bug Pro does not have the same sensitivity as the Gold Bug 2, and will simply not detect some of the small bits that the GB2 can find. I have read a few reviews from others who feel that it can, but that has not been my experience.
While this is a limitation of the machine, I feel that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks in most situations for a few reasons. The extremely high operating frequency that makes the GB2 such a sensitive detector can also make it extremely difficult to operate in certain situations. In some places that have highly mineralized ground or an abundance of “hot rocks”, using the GB2 can be nearly impossible.
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I have found that the Gold Bug Pro will run much more stable in these places. It does probably miss some of the smallest gold, but I am okay with that since I believe that I am able to pick up more gold because of how well it handles certain ground.
As mentioned earlier, what I really like about the Pro is its excellent target ID. Now keep in mind that you always want to hunt for gold in the all-metal mode, rather than in discriminate mode. In theory, you could use a discrimination to blank out iron targets, but in reality it doesn’t work well as the overall sensitivity is reduced significantly and results in missed gold. It is much better to run in All-Metal mode and use the target ID to decide whether or not you want to dig a target.
I know that lots of nugget hunters feel the need to dig all targets, and I will agree that this is a good choice in many areas. However, when hunting in extremely trashy locations, digging all targets is simply not realistic. I have been in places that I wouldn’t have gone more than 50 feet in a whole day if I had chosen to dig every piece of metal. An old sluice box or pile of cans from 100 years ago can be reduced to literally thousands of metal scraps today.
In these locations, I feel that a reliable target ID is the only viable option. While you can never be 100% certain with any detector, I feel quite confident that I can differentiate between square nails and most gold nuggets. With that said, you will still dig plenty of trash using a Gold Bug Pro; that’s just part of metal detecting.