The Best Lake Shovel for Muck, Mud & Sand 2023 (Reviews)
There’s no shortage of reasons why you might want or need to eliminate muck. This slimy, foul-smelling substance can be slippery and unsafe to walk on, interfere with activities like boating and swimming, and stifle populations of fish and beneficial plants.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to remove muck. One of the simplest, most direct ways is to use a specialty muck shovel. In this article, we’ll break down important considerations when buying a muck shovel, as well as review a few models on the market today.
Considerations When Buying Lake Muck Shovels
Muck shovels are designed for aquatic use and typically feature perforations in the blade that filter out water. Muck shovels can be unfussy, non-electrical solutions and are especially effective for smaller, shallower waterbodies. Below are some considerations to take into account when choosing muck shovel models to ensure you get the right tool for the job:
1) Materials, Weight & Pole Construction
The materials a muck shovel’s blade and pole are made from affect both how you work and how long the tool will last. Most muck shovel blades are made of steel, aluminum, or plastic. While plastic varieties are usually lightweight and cheap, they’re rarely durable enough for shoveling muck. Investing in a shovel with a sturdy steel or aluminum blade is your best bet. Steel is the most common blade material used in muck shovels because it’s less likely to bend or dent than aluminum. Of course, any type of ordinary metal blade is subject to rust when exposed to water. This is where you’ll want to narrow your search to shovels specifically designed for aquatic use, as these tools usually feature anti-corrosive coatings. If you’re not sure, it helps to look for terms like “powder-coated” and “rustproof.”
As for pole materials, the best options are fiberglass or reinforced plastic polymers. These handles are typically lighter and more resilient than those made of wood. If you do decide to use a wood-handled shovel, make sure it’s coated with some kind of waterproof varnish. Wood handles exposed to water are vulnerable to rotting, making unvarnished varieties an uncommon choice for muck shovels.
A muck shovel’s weight helps determine how much you’ll exert yourself using it. Lighter shovels make it easier to shovel larger amounts of muck more quickly. Most lake muck shovels weigh about 3–5 lbs., though this varies based on the materials making up the blade and pole.
2) Pole Length & Total Reach
Shovels with longer poles allow you to pick up muck without bending as much as you would with a shorter tool, which can make them much easier on your back muscles. The downside is that the longer a shovel’s pole is, the harder it is to keep it stable when you pick up a heavy load. Ultimately, pole length is a matter of preference. However, if you want a shovel that’s balanced between these two options, an easy shortcut is to pick one that’s as tall as your elbow when the tool’s blade is set on the ground.
3) Perforation Size & Density (Holes)
Generally, smaller holes are preferable to larger ones, since they keep more muck on the shovel while still allowing water and sand to pass through. However, if holes are too small, they can restrict water flow (relatively speaking) and may become clogged with tiny pebbles or coarse sand. Most muck shovels have holes that are 1/4″–5/8″ (6–9 mm) in diameter.
4) Shovel Head/Blade Shape
Most muck shovels have either a square blade or a rounded blade with a pointed tip. Pointed-tip shovels are designed to penetrate deeper into thick muck and possibly make cuts in it. Square blades, on the other hand, are better suited for looser, more solid muck. Whichever type of tip you prefer, try to choose a shovel with a modest blade size. Muck can get quite dense, and a too-large blade will gather loads that are difficult to lift. Widths of around 10 inches are common.
With these types of shovels, it’s also worth paying attention to how thick the blades are. Blades with heavier-gauge steel are thicker and better suited for tough work. The higher a blade’s gauge number, the thinner it is. Cheap, basic muck shovels might have 16-gauge steel blades, while higher-quality shovels are more likely to have thicker 14-gauge blades.
A third type of muck shovel doesn’t actually resemble a shovel at all. These “shovels” look more like hoes with holes punched in the blades, and they’re designed to be pulled over a lake bottom like a rake. The holes in the blades allow water and sediment to pass through while muck and loose weeds are retained. Although the pulling motion involved in using them is a little different than the lifting of a traditional shovel, they are still quite labor intensive, and to use one, you’ll need to be close enough to shore to successfully rake muck out of the water. Rake-like muck shovels aren’t as common as their traditional counterparts, but they’re worth considering if you’re more comfortable with that kind of motion.
Are Muck Shovels Always Good Choices?
For small water bodies and areas close to shore, a muck shovel may prove a straightforward, inexpensive solution. Unfortunately, though, these tools aren’t suitable in some conditions. Muck is dense and heavy, and shoveling it can be slow and physically demanding. Additionally, to reach muck with a shovel, you’ll have to wade into slippery, murky areas of a water body. From there, you’ll have to carry the muck you pick up back to shore or to a dock. If you’re lacking in physical strength or are unsteady on your feet, you may want to consider another method, or at least make sure you have someone else around to help.
For the same reasons, muck shovels aren’t the best for removing muck from larger and deeper water bodies. Even if you somehow find a way to safely transport the muck back to shore, the process can take an enormous amount of time, and you’ll probably exhaust yourself before making any meaningful progress. In these situations, your best bet is to use your shovel with other tools, like muck blowers, or to get help from fellow shovel-users.
Best Pond, Shore & Lake Shovel Reviews & Comparison 2023
1) Bully Tools: 92705 Mud Shovel Review
For penetrating and removing thick banks of muck, Bully Tool’s shovel (model 92705) is definitely worth your consideration. Comprising a perforated, powder-coated 14-gauge steel blade connected to a reinforced fiberglass handle, this shovel is designed to endure heavy-duty work and extended water exposure.
One of the best aspects of Bully Tool’s muck shovel is its pointed blade. This sharp tip can pierce otherwise impenetrable muck deposits, giving you the leverage to dig out larger chunks rather than just scraping from the top layer. Although the 9.25″–wide blade is a little narrow, it should work well for fitting significant but not overwhelming loads.
With a total length of just under 5′, this shovel is long enough that most people should find it useful at water levels up to chest height. Despite the long pole and strong blade, the shovel weighs a very manageable 3.8 lbs. (Although it will weigh much more when loaded with muck, of course!) The rubber grip at the very end of the pole is perfect for aquatic use, though shorter people may have a little trouble holding it steady with one hand always holding the end.
Overall, this is a solid, balanced shovel that should prove effective against middling levels of muck. If you’re looking for a durable yet lightweight muck-removing tool with a good reach, this would be an excellent choice. Plus, being almost half that of other shovels, makes it an exceptional bargain.
- Materials: 14-Gauge steel (blade); fiberglass (handle)
- Weight: 3.8 lbs.
- Length: 59″ (pole and blade)
- Perforated blade: Yes
- Blade/head shape: Pointed
- Coatings/water resistance: Powder coating
- Grip: Rubber (end of pole)
2) Toolite: S550 Muck Square Point Shovels Review
If you’re looking for a square-headed shovel for gathering looser muck clumps, we recommend checking out Toolite’s S550 series. Although this line also includes several pointed shovels, we’ll focus on four tools with square blades, all of which are made of 14-gauge steel and perforated with 3/8″ holes.
For smaller ponds, one of the lightest S550 models, SKU 49503, may be a good option. This shovel weighs 3.6 lbs., and the D-grip on the end of its fiberglass handle should make it relatively easy to control. The downside is the tool’s fairly small dimensions. The handle is only 29″ long, and this combined with the somewhat small blade (8″ x 9″) makes it impractical for larger waterbodies. For a very similar shovel with a slightly larger blade (11″ x 9″), you could also look at the model with SKU 49543. These tools are mostly the same, but shovel 49543 has a combination fiberglass-polymer pole and slightly less reinforcement where the blade and pole meet. It also weighs an even 4 lbs.
Another Toolite shovel, SKU 49492, provides both a slightly bigger blade (10″ x 9″) and a longer pole (48″). At 3.6 lbs., this shovel is also fairly light for its length, and some versions have a rubber grip midway down the pole. The pole is made of hardwood, and it’s unclear if there’s a water-resistant varnish. However, the pole is reinforced with a core of polymer-jacketed fiberglass, which should add to the shovel’s durability and explains the tool’s relative lightness. Provided that the handle is in fact varnished, shovel 49492 should work well for removing larger loads of muck from deeper water levels. Another version of this shovel, SKU 49493, also uses hardwood but has a 29″ pole, weighs 3.4 lbs., and includes a D-grip on the end.
In sum, although shovel 49503 may not be as useful in larger waterbodies, the other Toolite varieties should work well in most situations that call for square blades.
- Materials: 14-Gauge steel (blades); fiberglass, combination fiberglass-polymer, or hardwood (handles)
- Weight: 3.4–4.0 lbs.
- Length: 29″–48″ (just poles)
- Perforated blade: Yes
- Blade/head shape: Square
- Coatings/water resistance: N/A
- Grip: Rubber (mid-pole of some 48″ models); D-grip (all 29″ models)
3) Shoreline Industries: River Zebra Muck Rake Review
The last muck “shovel” on our list is a rake-like tool from Shoreline Industries. This tool features a 16″ metal rake head attached to a 56″ fiberglass pole (note that you’ll have to screw these components together yourself). The head consists of a metal screen perforated with 1/4″ holes and studded with blunt tines on the bottom. The head’s material isn’t specified, but based on the rake’s appearance and weight (about 5 lbs.), it’s probably steel. Note that the pole, which includes a rubber grip on the end, isn’t reinforced at all where it connects to the head. This could cause the tool to wobble and possibly bend if the head isn’t properly attached.
Although this rake is a little narrow, the head’s design should make it quite effective; the tines on the bottom should dig into and loosen muck, allowing the perforated head to collect it. (The head will also naturally collect litter, loose weeds, and other debris, which is a nice bonus.) The 56″ pole should also allow you to reach out a few feet farther than you could with a shovel, though remember that you’ll need to bring whatever you rake all the way back to shore.
While not quite as direct as a traditional shovel, this rake should be quite effective for digging out muck from shallow to moderate depths. This is a good tool for those who prefer raking over scooping and don’t mind the lack of extra reinforcement. Price is the only major shortcoming, as this tool can be a little more expensive in comparison to regular shovels.
- Materials: metal (head); fiberglass (handle)
- Weight: 5 lbs.
- Length: 56″ (just pole)
- Perforated head: Yes
- Blade/head shape: Mesh screen with rectangular tines
- Coatings/water resistance: N/A
- Grip: Rubber (end of pole)
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Please let me have details of uk suppliers of these tools