Magnet fishing can be an insanely attractive hobby. Some people engage in magnet fishing because of their curiosity, while others seek material benefit from the things they discover.
You may also be interested in magnet fishing enough to consider engaging in it. But what do you need for magnet fishing? Where do you magnet fish? And how to find something valuable from the water?
These are the kinds of questions we will be answering on our complete guide to magnet fishing.
Table of Contents
Must-have items for magnet fishing
There are two items that you absolutely must have in order to magnet fish. These items are a magnet and a rope. Although we are going to make further item recommendations for magnet fishing, a magnet, and a rope is going to enough to allow you to get started.
Now, let’s overview the must-haves of magnet fishing in-depth so you know what you are dealing with.
A magnet for magnet fishing consists of the magnet itself, an eyebolt to attach a rope to, as well as a screw which fixates the eyebolt in place.
Needless to say, a magnet is the number one must-have item in the arsenal of a magnet fisher. But since there are many magnets on the market to choose from, it is easy to get confused.
You might be surprised at how cheap the best magnets are, we really like this one for its great strength, ease of use and very reasonable price.
Below, we’ll talk about the features that a good magnet for magnet fishing should have.
There are 2 types of magnets that are commonly used in magnet fishing – neodymium and ferrite magnets. Each of these magnet types has its advantages and disadvantages, so let’s take a look at them.
Being rare-earth magnets, neodymium magnets are the strongest permanent magnets that are commercially available. If you didn’t know, a permanent magnet is a kind of magnet that is very resistant to external magnetic fields that have the potential to demagnetize them.
Neodymium magnets can lift objects that are hundreds and even thousands of times heavier than them. Aside from that, they can attract ferrous metals from a considerable distance.
The applications of neodymium magnets extend well beyond magnet fishing. For example, neodymium magnets are commonly used in speakers, computer hard disks, power tools, and motors. However, due to their insane amount of pulling force, neodymium magnets have found wide acclaim among the ranks of magnet fishers.
The pulling power of neodymium magnets often reaches 500 pounds and even sometimes 1,000 pounds and more. Due to this, we’d say that you shouldn’t choose a neodymium magnet if you don’t plan to catch larger goods or don’t yet have the equipment that would be able to support what the magnet is capable of.
However, serious magnet fishers will always go for neodymium magnets due to the immense possibilities their pulling power opens to them.
Ferrite magnets aren’t nearly as strong as neodymium magnets, but they still have a place in some magnet fishers’ arsenals.
There are two types of ferrite magnets – soft and hard ferrite magnets. Soft ferrite magnets can be relatively easily demagnetized by external magnetic fields, so they aren’t suitable for magnet fishing. In contrast, magnets made from hard ferrite are permanent and are highly resistant to demagnetization.
Hard ferrite magnets, in their turn, can be made from strontium ferrite or barium ferrite. Strontium ferrite magnets are commonly used in small electric motors, magneto-optic media, microwave devices, and whatnot.
Conversely, barium ferrite magnets are more robust, stable to moisture, and corrosion- and temperature-resistant. Due to this, they are preferred by magnet fishers.
Since ferrite magnets don’t contain any rare-earth metals, they are considerably cheaper than neodymium magnets. If you are on a tight budget or are just starting out in magnet fishing, we’d recommend you to go for a ferrite magnet.
Do keep in mind though that ferrite magnets are much weaker than neodymium magnets. Their pulling power usually doesn’t exceed 300 pounds, which means that they are more suitable for catching smaller items.
The pulling force, measured in pounds, indicates how much weight a magnet can hold. The pulling force is the most crucial thing to look for in a magnet for magnet fishing, aside from the magnet type.
As we mentioned above, neodymium magnets have the highest pulling force among magnets available commercially, reaching 1,000 pounds and more. Ferrite magnets usually have pulling forces of up to 300 pounds, which is much lower than what neodymium magnets are capable of.
When picking a magnet by pulling force, you should first consider what kind of things you expect to be catching from a water body. If you want to catch virtually anything, you should go for a neodymium magnet with as much pulling strength as you can.
Don’t also forget to consider the durability of the other components of your pulling system. If your rope can support 300 pounds but your magnet can pull 1,000, you will be having 700 pounds of unused pulling potential.
Strictly speaking, the grade of a magnet refers to the maximum strength a magnet can be magnetized to. In other words, the grade in magnets determines how much magnetic force they can produce per unit of volume.
At a given volume, a magnet with a higher grade is going to be stronger. You could also say that a magnet with a higher grade is more efficient since it produces more force at a given weight.
Neodymium and ferrite magnets have varying grade charts, so they need to be approached differently.
The grade of neodymium magnets is denoted with the letter N (standing for neodymium) followed by the grade value. In neodymium magnets, grades go from 28 up to 52, with magnets having the N52 grade being the most powerful.
For ferrite magnets, there are many grades available, with the most popular being the C5/Y30 grade, which is used for more general applications. The logic with grades is the same in ferrite magnets as in neodymium magnets – the higher the grade, the stronger the magnetic force is per unit of volume.
A rope is the second must-have that you need for magnet fishing. Attached to the magnet, a rope allows you to submerge the magnet into the water and easily retrieve it. Without a rope, you would need to go and stick the magnet into the water manually. This wouldn’t be too convenient, as well as wouldn’t allow you to find objects in deeper water.
Magnet anglers commonly use paracord ropes made from nylon. Paracord ropes, if you didn’t know, have been originally used in parachute suspension lines due to their lightness and thinness. Paracord ropes are also strong, due to which they are now used in many areas outside of the military and parachuting.
There are two things that you need to consider with a magnet rope – its maximum load and weight.
The maximum supported load of a rope (usually measured in pounds) should be close to the pulling force of the magnet. There is really no point in going for a rope whose maximum load far exceeds the pulling force of your magnet – your system will be able to pull only as much as the magnet can pull.
The opposite is also true – don’t go for a rope that can carry less weight than your magnet can pull. In this case, you won’t be able to uncover the potential of your magnet since the strength of the rope will be a limiting factor.
When it comes to length, it is generally recommended to go for around 50 feet long ropes. A 50 feet long rope should allow you to reach the bottom of most water bodies you will be fishing at. If you feel that you will need more, go for a longer rope.
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Optional items for magnet fishing
Below, we’re going to overview several items that you should have when magnet fishing as well. As we mentioned above, you can get started with a just magnet and a rope, but there are some items that could make your magnet fishing trip safer and more convenient.
You don’t necessarily have to wear gloves when magnet fishing, but we strongly suggest that you do so. There are 3 reasons why you should wear gloves when magnet fishing:
- You will protect your skin from the contaminants that may be lurking in the water, as well as from cuts and bruises.
- You will protect your skin from friction with the rope.
- It will be easier for you to maintain grip with the rope.
When getting yourself a pair of gloves, don’t cheap out. Go for decent gloves and make sure that they are waterproof. As for material, the inside of the palm should be made from a grippy rubber-like material.
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Some people also buy carabiners for their magnet fishing tasks. The idea is that you tie the rope to the carabiner and then hook your magnet’s eyebolt into the carabiner. With such a setup, you don’t have to untie the rope when you need to change magnets.
While carabiners can be rather convenient for owners of several magnets, they add an additional point of failure into your magnet system. Even if you have many magnets, you may avoid using a carabiner and just untie the rope from the current magnet and tie it to a new one. But since this is a hassle, some people prefer to just go for a carabiner and forget about it.
A carabiner would also be useless if you only have one magnet. The easiness of detachment of a carabiner simply will not have any point if you won’t be alternating between different magnets.
If you won’t be catching too heavy loads, any kind of a strong carabiner should work for you. But if you are worried about maximum durability, then we’d suggest you go for a symmetric D-shape carabiner with a straight gate, which is the strongest carabiner design out there. They also are pricey though.
As a beginner, you probably aren’t that concerned with durability and reliability as someone more experienced. However, we still think that you should know about a thing called thread locker or thread-locking fluid.
A thread locker is an adhesive that is applied to fasteners like bolts or screws to prevent them from loosening over time. Since fishing magnets usually have their eyebolts attached via a screw, using a threadlocker may be a good idea if you are concerned with reliability.
Threadlockers can be of different strength, which is indicated by their color code.
Threadlocker color codes
Purple thread lockers are the lightest threadlockers available out there. They are formulated for light use with fasteners that need to be occasionally removed. Typically, purple threadlockers are used with fasteners that are under 1/4 inch in diameter. To break free, these fasteners require around 55-inch pounds of torque.
Blue threadlockers are used with fasteners that aren’t removed too frequently but may need removal for maintenance. This kind of threadlockers is the most frequently used out there, typically with fasteners that have a diameter of up to three fourths of an inch.
Usually, about 100 inch pounds of torque is required to break the bond of a blue threadlocker. Due to this, small fasteners may break well before you reach the required torque to break the seal.
Red threadlockers are used in fasteners that are not intended to be ever loosened. Due to this, these threadlockers are sometimes referred to as permanent threalockers. Usually, red threadlockers are used in fasteners that are up to 1 inch in diameter.
However, you can indeed remove a red-coded threadlocker, it will just require a lot of torque – around 230 inch pounds, to be exact. In addition, these threadlockers can be broke under temperatures of about 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
Green threadlockers are formulated to soak into the threads of already assembled parts. Thereby, green-coded threadlockers are used when you can’t apply a threadlocker beforehand.
Green threadlockers come in various strengths, but they most commonly have medium strength.
It’s quite difficult to say which kind of a threadlocker you will need and whether you will need one at all. If you feel that you do require the increased reliability a threadlocker can provide, we’d advise you to go for a low- or medium-strength one, unless you don’t intend to ever remove the eyebolt from the magnet.
Also, don’t go for a threadlocker which you won’t be able to remove with the tools you have at hand.
You will need to put all your finds somewhere, right? Well, a bucket is a perfect item for this. A bucket would be a good place to put your finds in while magnet fishing, and it would also allow you to conveniently carry all the stuff back home.
The main thing to look for in a magnet fishing bucket is resistance to compounds like chemicals or acids, as well as to corrosion. You don’t know what you are going to discover and in what condition your finds will be, so a sturdy bucket is a must.
A knife is going to be a handy tool in the event of your magnet getting stuck underwater.
It generally isn’t recommended to go after a stuck magnet due to the dangers associated with trying to retrieve it. But your rope can be easily saved if you have a knife to cut it with. Without a knife, you’d lose both your magnet and the rope.
Since you may need to cut the rope underwater, go for a knife that is resistant to corrosion.
Items you may find when magnet fishing will likely be rusty and dirty. And aside from wearing gloves, you should take some kind of an antibacterial gel or hand sanitizer with you to keep your skin safe.
But keep in mind that you should prevent contact of your skin with uncleaned finds, and that a hand sanitizer is going to serve as a temporary solution of skin protection should your gloves tear and any dirty items come in contact with your skin.
First aid kit
Since bruises and cuts are possible when magnet fishing, you should have a first aid kit with you as well. A basic first aid kit should be good enough for magnet fishing. Make sure to include the following items in your first aid kit:
- Sterile gauze dressings.
- Sterile eye dressings.
- Safety pins.
- Disposable sterile gloves.
- Antiseptic cream.
- Tweezers & scissors.
- Distilled water for wound cleaning.
- Alcohol-free cleansing wipes.
What knot should you use in magnet fishing?
There are hundreds of knots out there, and you could use any knot you wish. However, it is generally recommended to use the so-called Palomar knot in magnet fishing due to its strength and easiness of tying. This knot is also very popular in regular fishing. Watch the below video to learn how to tie this kind of knot.
Where to magnet fish?
After you’ve got everything necessary for magnet fishing, the main thing to decide is where to magnet fish. Well, it’s actually pretty simple – the only thing you need in order to magnet fish is water. However, some spots are much better than others. In fact, the ability to pick a spot is more important than the ability to cast a magnet into the water.
Here are some criteria of a great magnet fishing spot:
- A lot of people should pass by the magnet fishing spot – more people, more things dropped, and more things to find.
- The water needs to be reasonably deep. In a shallow spot, it is easier to notice sunken items, and it is more likely that someone passing by has cleared the bottom.
Depth of 3 feet or more should be good enough. In case of clear water, go for a spot where it is over 6 feet deep.
On the other hand, if you are a beginner or will be having kids with you, you should go for a shallower spot just for safety.
- If there is a bridge not too far from the spot, it is likely that people have accidentally dropped some items for you to pick up.
To give you some idea of where you can fish, let’s have a look at a couple of potential spots.
A river that is attracting a lot of regular fishermen is going to be a good spot for magnet fishing. Aside from that, people sometimes dispose of their things in a river, so you may be able to find something for yourself.
Remember that a river with a lot of traffic nearby is preferential. It would be a bonus if there was a bridge not too far from the spot you are going to magnet fish at. But do remember that you may need to get permission to magnet fish from the owner of the area.
Canals are excellent for magnet fishing since they are typically located in traffic-heavy areas. You may be able to discover plenty of interesting items in a canal. However, you still need to get permission for magnet fishing in a canal.
Beaches can be great if you struggle with getting permissions in other areas. The logic with beaches stays the same – you should pick a magnet fishing spot that is as close to the beach traffic as possible. And since beaches are often visited by fishermen, holidaymakers, dog walkers, and many other people, finding a good spot on a beach is relatively easy.
But you do need to make sure that the beach isn’t owned by someone. Beaches tend to be unowned, but you should make sure nonetheless to avoid any legal complications.
Streams aren’t particularly abundant with metal objects to find, but they can be great if you are just starting out since they are often very shallow. In addition, if you are going to magnet fish with your kids, a stream will be a safer place to go.
The legal side of magnet fishing
A frequent question asked by newbie magnet fishers is whether magnet fishing is legal or not.
Well, there seem to be no specific laws that would forbid magnet fishing as an activity, so you aren’t breaking the law by trying to catch something from the bottom of a local river. You should still do research in regard to your local laws since there may be some specifics relating to magnet fishing, but as far as we are aware, there are no specific legal acts that would restrict magnet fishing.
On the other hand, there is one thing that you may need to seek when magnet fishing – permission from the owner of the land. Yes, even the most distant and seemingly forgotten river may have an owner. And to avoid any legal issues, you should seek permission from the owner to magnet fish.
To do this, you need to first find out whether the spot you will be magnet fishing is owned by anyone or not. If it is not owned by anyone – which is unlikely – you may go ahead and magnet fish without legal hassles.
If the magnet fishing site does have an owner, find out whether they allow magnet fishing in the water bodies in their domain. This is important because some landowners forbid magnet fishing, justifying it by the risk of people pulling out bombs and other ammunition.
And if the landowner does allow magnet fishing, obtain permission from them and go do your thing. If they impose any requirements on you, make sure to follow them to avoid legal actions.
Magnet fishing techniques
This may surprise you, but there aren’t really any special skills involved in magnet fishing. You basically just need to cast the magnet into the water, let it sink, and pull it back.
There are some magnet fishing techniques though that you should know about. Namely, these are the up and down technique, the throw and pull technique, and the throw, pull, and walk technique. They are all used in varying conditions.
The up and down technique
This is the simplest technique of magnet fishing, and it is commonly used on bridges. You just lower the magnet directly down into the water, let it sink, and then slowly pull it back up.
The good thing about this method is that it is less likely for the magnet to get tangled or snag something in the water. On the other hand, with this method, you will need to lower the magnet exactly where an item lies in order to obtain it.
The throw and pull technique
With the throw and pull method, you throw the magnet into the water and then pull it back towards you, as the name implies. Along the way back, the magnet catches whatever ferrous items there are on the bottom.
The throw and pull technique increases the likelihood of you catching ferrous items. But it likewise increases the risk of the magnet getting stuck onto something in the water.
The throw, pull, and walk technique
This technique is commonly used on bridges where you can’t really use the regular throw and pull technique. Magnet anglers throw the magnet into the water, walk back and forth to drag the magnet around to snatch ferrous items, and then pull out the magnet.
What can you find when magnet fishing?
You may have never thought about it, but there are so many things that could be found in water bodies like rivers or lakes. This opens a whole gamut of opportunities to people who like to collect old things, as well as for those who are looking for material benefit from magnet fishing.
Items that can be captured with magnets are made from ferromagnetic materials. Many people wonder whether their magnets will be able to pull gold and silver – since they are not ferromagnetic, you won’t be able to snatch gold chains or whatnot lying on the bottom.
On the other hand, if you are lucky enough to stumble upon jewelry in a container made from a ferromagnetic metal, you will be able to pull it out of the water.
You may be likewise unable to catch coins. However, older coins made from iron or other magnetic materials will stick to your magnet with no problem.
Overall, when magnet fishing, you can find all kinds of chains, jewelry, safe boxes, tools, keys, phones, weapons, and maybe even treasures. In regard to the last two, there are a couple of things you need to keep in mind.
What to do if you find firearms or explosives
If you pull out an assault rifle or a grenade out of the water, you should, first of all, exercise extreme caution since they may still be live and pose a threat to you and others. Secondly, you should call the authorities so that they come and deal with your finds.
When it comes to firearms, some people actually prefer to keep them for themselves rather than hand them in to the authorities. If you intend to do this as well, consider a couple of things.
The first thing to check on a firearm is whether it has serial numbers on it. If it doesn’t, owning it will likely be illegal in your area, though you will have to check with your local laws. If owning firearms with no serial numbers is illegal, then your only option is to hand your find in to the authorities.
On the other hand, if the firearm does have serial numbers, you need to run them to check if the gun had been reported stolen. If it had been, you should have the authorities come and pick it up. Otherwise, the firearm is yours, unless there are local laws disallowing owning it.
Also, check if private firearm transfer is allowed between citizens in your area. If it is allowed, you basically can sell a gun to someone else who is not legally barred from owning a gun with no paperwork involved.
In the US, this is mostly allowed. If this is indeed the case in your area, then you can always claim that the gun you found had been sold to you in a private transfer. But do make sure to do thorough research in regard to firearm ownership in order to avoid any legal complications connected with the find.
What to do if you find treasures or items of historical importance
Usually, it is required by law that you report items of historical importance and finds that are defined under the treasure act. Since laws differ from area to area, it is difficult to say which finds are going to fall under such acts. If your finds do, do make sure to follow the requirements of your local code.
Cleaning magnet fishing finds
Having spent months, years, or maybe even decades in the water, most of your finds are going to be covered in rust. You thus need to clean the rust off safely in a manner that doesn’t damage the find and harm you.
There are many ways of cleaning off the rust. Some of them are very effective but require very specific items, while others don’t require too many resources but aren’t as effective. Below are techniques that are relatively safe and that should allow you to clean off the rust of most of your finds.
Vinegar is a universal cleaning solution used in a variety of applications, and magnet fishing is no exception.
To clean your find with vinegar, place it in a bowl of vinegar and let it sit there overnight. Then, scrub the vinegar along with the rust off of the find.
If you aren’t particularly worried about scratches or are dealing with a material that can’t be scratched easily, you may use an abrasive tool like steel wool or a scouring pad. Otherwise, go for a soft-bristled brush or some cloth.
Lemon juice & salt
Many popular cleaning products contain lemon juice since it is a good natural cleaner. Likewise, it is quite effective as a rust-removing solution.
To get started with this method, you need to rub the salt over all the areas that you want to clean from rust. After you’ve coated the required area, take a lemon and squeeze it over the salt. Let the find sit like this for a couple of hours.
Then comes the time to scrub off the nasty stuff from the find. Again, use a softer brush or cloth if you don’t want to scratch the item, or go for a rougher tool if you don’t care about it.
Baking soda is another good way of getting rid of rust. To remove rust off of your find, you will need to make a water-soda solution.
It is usually recommended to make a thick, paste-like solution in order to remove rust. If the solution is watery, it most likely won’t be able to remove the rust.
After you’ve made the solution, apply it to the surfaces of the find that need cleaning. Let the item sit for a couple of hours and then scrub the rust and the solution off, while remembering to use a proper scrubbing tool.
Magnet fishing safety tips
Magnet fishing is a relatively simple hobby, but there are some great risks associated with it. Do not underestimate the dangers that could be awaiting you when magnet fishing.
So, below are key safety tips to follow when magnet fishing.
Assess the area you will be magnet fishing in
Before starting to magnet fish, always assess the area you will be fishing in. Look for any signs of danger indicating sliding mud, areas you could fall in, etc. If you will be fishing off a bridge or some other area with heavy traffic, make sure to be careful with your movements.
Wear gloves at all times
We’ve mentioned the importance of gloves above, and we’ll repeat it again for this section.
First of all, you should wear gloves in order to protect your hands from the contaminants that may thrive on items that have been in the water for years. Gloves will protect your hands from cuts and bruises through which dangerous infections could make it into your body.
Secondly, wearing gloves will protect your hands from the friction with the rope. If the rope slips out from your hands, you may get a couple of hurting bruises.
Lastly, gloves are going to make it easier for you to grip onto your rope. This is a matter of the glove material, as well as the fact that you probably won’t be worried about harming your gloved hands while tightly holding onto the rope.
Do not tie a magnet to yourself
You should never tie a magnet to yourself in hopes of making the catch easier, regardless of how powerful your magnet is. Magnets attract heavy objects, and you could be easily blasted into the water. And when underwater, you may be unable to untie yourself or cut the rope.
Do not jump into the water for a stuck magnet
No matter how expensive or powerful your magnet is, you should not jump into the water to retrieve it in the event it gets stuck or tangled. You may just get tangled or stuck just like your magnet did. And while many magnet fishermen will tell you that there are no dangers in trying to retrieve a magnet from water, you shouldn’t rush in to get it.
There are much safer ways of retrieving a stuck magnet. One of them is using a come-along cable puller.
Be mindful of ammunition and explosives
In the US, it is not very likely that you will stumble upon ammunition or explosives lying from the times of past conflicts. But in Europe, for example, it is very likely for rivers to contain some weaponry from WWII.
Thus, you need to be very careful when magnet fishing. And if you do pull a grenade, a mine, or a machine gun out from the water, make sure to immediately inform the authorities. And in general, if you find anything suspicious, contact the police or local authorities.
Let someone know that you will be magnet fishing
Whether it is a family member or a friend, make sure to let someone know about your magnet fishing trip. Tell them exactly where you will be, with who, and when you are expecting to come back.
If there is mobile coverage in the area you will be magnet fishing in, then great. You may ask your friend or relative to call you after the specified time. And if you do not respond, they may contact the authorities.
And generally, provide them with as much information about your trip as possible to allow the authorities to easily find your track if anything goes wrong.