As hard as it may seem, there’s not to much to it. Operating a sluice is as easy as you want to make it. There are only two requirements to operate a sluice. First, running water, second, gold bearing ground.
In order to get enough running water, it may be necessary to raise the level of the water, with a dam. Once a supply of water is available, you are good to go. I pick a spot where the water is already flowing down hill. Build a small dam from both sides, using large rocks. Fill any leaking sections with gravel or dirt. The final part, the last piece has to be done quickly, using fine material. Build a ramp that the sluice will rest on, if you can’t get this in place as the last part of the dam, build it first, then block off the last part of the dam. Let the water rise and flow through your sluice.
Your sluice is working if the water is jumping through the riffles, as in the photo above. Throw some gravel into the sluice, watching how it moves through. If the gravel doesn’t move through the sluice, one there is not enough water flow, or two, there is not enough fall on the sluice. Lack of water can be solved by giving the sluice more fall. If you have to dig a hole or raise your dam height to get more fall, do it.
Other problems you may encounter with your sluice: Gravel staying on one side of the sluice only. Use a rock under the bottom of the sluice, one either side, use them to raise or lower a side to balance the sluice. Gravel or water building up at the bottom of the sluice, the same two rocks used to balance the sluice can be used to raise the bottom of the sluice up out of the water, to allow the end of the sluice to clear.
The general rule of thumb of one inch drop, for each foot of length, is bullshit. If you get trapped by that rule, your sluice will never work. Here’s proof, high bankers, same basic principle, nearly all have a bigger fall that one inch per foot of length.
There can be an advantage to classifying the gold bearing material you want to run through your sluice, mostly in the removal of larger rocks. Take the time to enjoy what you are doing. Gold is a adrenaline rush. When you first see shining yellow grains or flakes in the sluice, that can make you stop for a moment, make the heart race. Is it the same sort of rush you get when jumping out of a plane or off a cliff, maybe, sure makes you feel good.
A sniffer bottle is the best way to remove the gold from your sluice, take all the visible pieces, leaving the sluice in place, so as not to have to reset the sluice and jiggle the water flow again. After all you have just got it working right.
Are you worried, that you are losing gold, don’t be. Having watched a lot of gold mining shows from the United States, it’s obvious that you can run your sluice all day without losing a single speck of gold. These shows continually run there sluices for up to a week, without cleaning out the sluice boxes.
The concentrates from your sluice will be about the equivalent of a large pan full of fine gravel. The sluice should be dismantled, and washed down into a large tub, then the concentrates panned out. Feel free to pan your concentrates twice or more to make sure you get all the gold. How much gold you fine depends on how much gravel you move and how rich it is.