Popular or crowded beaches are often littered with bottle caps, can slaw, fishing junk and all sorts of other metal objects being effected by contact with saltwater and sand.
George in Texas asks why not always use a large search coil and go for ground coverage and depth, the answer is because of all the unwanted targets I listed above.
I prefer to use small search coils at trashy beaches, opting for target separation over ground coverage or target depth.
Many of my favorite platinum and gold rings have been detected because I chose to cover an area instead of covering more ground at tourist beaches.
It often comes down to if you cannot hear a good target, you are not going to detect or scoop up a good target at crowded beaches.
It is amazing what you can detect around a busy beach entrance using a search coil only a couple of inches smaller than the competition.
For example, this heavy platinum, gold and diamond scoop rattler was recovered because I was able to detect a low target tone as I slowly swept a small search coil over an iron infested beach entrance.
The diamond ring would probably not have been detected if I used a larger search coil, with multiple iron objects being detected under and close to a larger search coil helping mask good targets.
Two different beach hunters walked over this area before me, I met one of them afterwards in the parking lot who told me my 8 inch coil was too small and the reason I never moved very far. I thanked the stranger for his advice and drove away with a smile on my face.
In my opinion, the hardest targets to detect are good shallow targets at beaches that see a lot of sunbathers and swimmers.
Fresh dropped jewelry left behind with trash at the beach, can be detected when you put a small search coil over or close to it.
When have you ever heard another beach or water hunter saying they needed a smaller search coil?
My guess is probably the same amount of times you hear beach and water hunters saying they need to slow down and cover less of a crowded beach.
Small search coils and slow sweep speeds help combat both iron and target masking at trashy beach sites, where so often target separation is the name of the jewelry hunting game.