How to Run a Stream Sluice – Best Riffle and Matting Designs

stream sluice riffles

5:30 am… the coffee is brewing….   Turn on the computer and yep, there’s another email asking what type of mats I should run in my stream sluice.   It’s not that we don’t love helping people; it’s just that this question is lot more complex than most realize.   In fact, besides specking out a commercial op, I think this one takes more explaining than most.   So, if you sent us an email with that question there’s a good chance you are reading this because I decided to go DEEPER into the subject and help you understand the factors.

I’m posting a short video at the end. 

Before you begin… I strongly encourage you to watch after the Proportional Force video. It will open your mind and help you understand.
Proportional Force


The Flow Factor…
Let’s face it, I can go to a creek or stream and within 50 feet have VASTLY different flows in my stream sluice, anything from a small trickle to a raging water flow.  Sometimes I show up at creek that was flowing great last month, but this month has drained down to a trickle.
Unlike a highbanker that uses a pump with a steady constant GPH, a stream sluice flow varies on a daily basis. Plus, there is no way really to measure the GPH. It’s more of a “visual energy” sort of thing.
OUR SOLUTION:  Make a stream sluice PACKAGE that has both regular flow and low flow mats.  Regardless of the flow you have the right matting.

Back Flow or Back Pressure at the End
When you set up a stream sluice most of the time the END of the sluice will be under water.  Often the END of our sluice is 3 inches deep in the creek while the upper portion, the flare, is barely skimming water at the surface.  Because the end is under water and deep there is a natural BACK PRESSURE that occurs. This pressure / reduced flow slows down the speed of the water, makes the water DEEPER, and actually hinders the exchange and clearing of the sluice near the end.
OUR SOLUTION:  At the end of both our mats for our stream sluice package you’ll notice that we use Bedrock and UR matting or a matting that has NO TALL OBSTRUCTIONS that might grab rocks that are trying to clear.

Classifying Sucks
If you know anything about my philosophy in gold mining it’s based on some fairly simple rules, one being that moving more dirt EFFICIENTLY… gets you more gold.  Again, not just moving a lot of dirt but doing so at a capture rate that meets your goals. Next, time is money.  If your boss asked you to work for $2 an hour you’d tell him to go pound sand.  Yet in prospecting and mining we often fail to attribute a COST… to time.  Often this is due to the fact we are doing it for fun and really don’t care.  Some of time it’s that we don’t understand how the right equipment and processes can SAVE valuable time and add to the end result.  When you classify you really need to do wet classification to wash rocks and that can triple the time it takes to work a bucket of pay.  ALL THAT BEING SAID…  it reinforces why you have to watch the Proportional Force video.
OUR SOLUTION:  Make matting surfaces that allow the miner to run with little to no classification.

stream sluice mat

Leveling…  Controlling Flows… Wasting Time with Using Rocks as Stands…
I’ve said it time and time and time again… yes our stream sluice FULL PACKAGE costs more than most plain stream sluices out there. But… in the end you’ll pay the same or more if you try and get all the features ours offers.   Not only is it a BEAST construction wise… but comes with two sets of mats, and a full leg kit that is one of the best in the industry.  Being able to set up ANYWHERE quickly and fine tune is critical. The leg system we use does this.

Type of Material Run
There’s a BIG difference between running river gravels in Colorado, running clay muck in Georgia, and running black beach sands in Washington or Alaska. Anyone that tells you differently doesn’t mine much. So, you’ll have to play around with flow settings, pitch, matting configurations as well as FEED RATES.  REMEMBER… anything can catch gold and anything can lose gold, it’s all about the fine tuning. FYI… if you are running nothing but beach sands you may want to run Motherlode mat.

stream sluice gold

So what mats to use? 

For MOST people… converting over a traditional sluice, I would go with a couple of Talon mats at the very top… then transition into something smoother like Motherlode. Your material will have good energy coming off the flare, but it starts to lose it quickly. That’s why you don’t want a bunch of OBSTACLES… i.e. riffles or aggressive matting further down your sluice.

How often should I clean out my mats?

Normally we don’t worry about this much. Example… If we’re running a highbanker we only clean out twice a day.  But, with a stream sluice you often have varying flows and crazy turbulence.   So I encourage clean outs more frequently. When running a stream sluice I clean out every hour.  Remember… with our leg system and matting system this is a VERY FAST AND EASY PROCESS.  Watch the videos to see just how easy it is.

Now I think you can see why I PAUSE……. When responding to emails about stream sluices.  It’s because there are SO MANY variables and many beyond our control.


  1. Watched new videos on the stream sluice, and was particularly struck by the comment about back flow or back pressure at the end of the sluice. Maybe there is a solution for that: flare out both the sides and bottom of the sluice thus creating lower pressure inside the sluice at the end which will pull more water and material out of and thru thru the sluice. Looking forward to seeing your R&D on this idea.

  2. Hey Eddie!

    This back flow (I have found) comes from the very back of the sluice box positioned at, or lower than, the stream water height. The slurry travels down the sluice and then, when it hits the ‘dead water’ at the end everything slows down to a crawl. Discharge back into the stream is noticeably slowed — and that is not good.
    If the bottom of the sluice discharges it’s load even a little (1/2+”) above the water level of the stream then the system works 100% over the entire length of run. If the flow of the processed slurry is ‘strangled’ at the bottom then useful box length is effectively shortened.

    So, just keep the bottom end of the box at least a little above the stream height and life is good.

  3. Well JW,
    It sorta depends …

    Of course there is the ‘ol how wide and how long question – followed by realization that you almost certainly have an in stream box here.

    Once that is out of the way, if the box is, say, 10 or 12″ wide and 3-4’ long you’re in high cotton. Just research the slow water and the faster water mats in the Gold Hog in stream sluice and carefully fit them to your box.

    If the box is down to at least 6″ wide and 24 – 30″ or even longer (or you have the ability to add on an extension to it) I would again use the mat selections from the in stream sluice – but you might have to learn how to use them a little. It should work OK to pretty darn well.

    Less than 6″ wide or 24″ long could be challenging and that box might need to be modified with the “Multisluice” type arrangement on more of a fixed set-up back at camp.

    So, whip out the old measuring tape and post a full report.


  4. I’m thinking about getting a stream sluice with a power head. I’m hoping to be able to use it also as a Multi-Sluice. What do you think, by reducing the gph and adjusting flow angle it should work, right. Where I’m at in mid-Michigan having one piece of equipment that does it all (stream, gravel pit and clean up) makes the most sense to me. Thanks.

  5. Rick,
    This has been an idea for my own prospecting trips as well. Since it is not as popular here in the UK, we are either drawn to overseas suppliers or doing our own sheet metal work an tig welding.
    My construction is a 40″lg x 9″wide sluice with a bolt on flare where I can crash dump shovel after shovel of raw dirt. Powered extraction and pumps are illegal, so I built a header box which reverse fires into the flare for working cons at home, then finally, I will have a few mat configurations made up so I can do all the different stages in the one outfit. Please, if you embark on the same path post up an update and maybe some images. I’ll be adding some new stuff soon.

  6. Hey all,
    I have been looking at everything I can find regards to running a stream sluice.
    Now somewhere I found a configuration of mat, which I believe is the predecessor for the current low velocity mat.
    It was UR, Downdraft, Razorback, Downdraft, Razorback, Bedrock and a final UR. I guess it’s a mark 1 before the new mats were designed.
    In your capacity as well established gold capturing people, is this good for the smallest of trickles? I am slowly ordering mats, and in slow time will build up different configurations, I just wanted opinions on the above mentioned run, as I think it sounds great for some of the really small brooks and burns we have here in the UK.
    Thanks as always 👍😀

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