If you’re thinking of taking up a new and interesting hobby, you might be considering the unique activity of magnet fishing.

But there are some things you should know before you get started since there may be laws that affect your efforts and there are different types of gear to consider.

Before you hit the fishing docks and canals looking for treasures, take a look through the information below to find out things you really ought to know before getting started.

What Is Magnet Fishing?

Magnet fishing, or magnetic fishing, is basically an outdoor search in water for magnetic objects. You use a strong neodymium magnet on a rope through the water to find the objects. Or, in other words, it’s like metal detecting in water, without any digging.


This is generally considered a hobby that combines treasure hunting and environmentalism. The magnets that are used for this hobby are strong enough to grab debris from the water including larger objects like bicycles, guns, bombs, coins, car tire times, and even safes.


Of course, many, or possibly most, who participate in magnet fishing are hoping to find something valuable or rare if it’s been in the water a while, or they may simply need to retrieve a tool they dropped from a dock or boat. In fact, it’s believed that magnet fishing was started by boaters who needed to recover keys that had fallen into the water.


Nowadays, there are very specific magnets that people use for magnet fishing and these may be either single or double-sided magnets.


You can engage in magnet fishing from a variety of locations, including:

  • Fishing docks
  • Kayaks
  • Canoes
  • Paddle boats
  • Riverbanks
  • Marinas
  • Small fishing boats
  • Lakeside embankments
  • Beaches
  • Canal banks
  • Bridges

Those who participate in magnet fishing are referred to as “magnetfishers,” “MF’ers,” “neodemons” – a play on the type of magnet used for the hobby – or “magneteers.” None of the names have really taken a firm hold on the community, however, since it’s still a fairly young hobby.

What Is a Neodymium Magnet?

Neodymium mag​​nets – which are also known as NdFeB, NIB, or Neo magnets – are the most widely used type of rare-earth magnet. It’s a permanent magnet made from an alloy of iron, boron, and neodymium to create the structure necessary for picking up objects.


These magnets were originally developed by Sumitomo Special Metals and General Motors as the strongest type of permanent magnet.


These magnets are now used in place of many other kinds of magnets in a variety of applications in modern products, like for motors in cordless tools, magnetic fasteners, and hard disk drives.

You can purchase neodymium magnets specially created for magnet fishing on a variety of retail sites including Amazon. These will be designed specifically for use in water, though they can be used anywhere. Just be sure to follow all instructions and cautions to make sure you don’t damage electronic items while using your neodymium magnets.

What Rating of Magnet Should You Look For?

Many who do magnet fishing recommend nothing rated lower than 300 pounds. Others require a minimum of ​400 pounds​ before they’re even willing to consider working with them.


It seems like a lot, but retrieval with this type of magnet isn’t as hard as it may sound. You’ll find some retrieval methods below that should help explain.


If your magnet has an eyebolt, be sure to use something like Loctite to make sure it doesn’t come unscrewed. Otherwise, you may lose your magnet along with whatever you were retrieving.

What Other Equipment and Gear Do You Need?

nylon rope, ideal for magnet fishing

Image by awsloley via Pixabay.com

Besides needing the magnet, there are a few other things you’ll need for magnet fishing.

The Right Rope



The best choices for rope for magnet fishing are going to be made from either nylon or polyethylene. Thinner and lighter ropes have a better feel for things going on in the water. However, thicker ropes are easier on the hands and tend to be much stronger.


Some would recommend using a 3/8-inch nylon rope. The length you need is determined by the height from which you’ll be fishing or the depth of water where you plan to drop your line. Riverbanks, lake beaches, etc. should sufficiently be fished with a 50-foot rope. If you’re fishing from a boat in deeper water or from a bridge, you’ll need at least 100 feet.


Use a figure eight follow-through knot for securing your magnet to the rope, since it maintains the rope’s strength better than some other knots would do. You can find Youtube tutorials to learn how to do this, if necessary.


Optional Gloves for Un-Calloused Hands



If you don’t have tough callouses built up on your hands, you may want to find a pair of solid work gloves to use for hauling up your finds that are on the heavier side. The gloves will protect the flesh of your palms while also providing a solid grip.


If you’d prefer to wear gloves while doing the fishing as well as the hauling, try thinner, more flexible gloves like quality fishing gloves instead of work gloves.


A Few Storage Containers



You’ll need someplace to put your finds, so you’ll want to bring along a couple of different boxes for your treasures. First, you’ll need a container large enough to hold the majority of the objects you find. These may include a variety of things ranging from forks and spoons to hubcaps. You’re also likely to find small, sharp objects like fishing lures or hooks. You’ll want a separate smaller container to hold any of these sharp objects.


A Grappling Hook



You might come across some larger objects that you’ll want to pull out. A grappling hook can help you securely grab these items, whether they’re magnetic or not.

What Do You Need to Know
 About the Laws in Relation to Magnet Fishing?

two pieces of paper in which you can read "Illegal" and "legal"

Image by Ramdlon via Pixabay.com

Before you go to your ideal spot for some magnet fishing, be sure to review the laws that may be associated with the location. These laws deal with things like landowners’ rights and getting permission for doing any kind of object finding on the land owned by either a private individual or company, as well as public land like in parks.


If you plan to go to canals, you’re likely to run into fines, so verify that the specific canal you want to visit is acceptable.


If you happen to come across any weapons on your magnet fishing adventures, be sure to immediately report the object and its location to the authorities. While most of the time these objects are just discarded items, there have been some famous incidents where amateur magnetfishers helped police recover new evidence in infamous cases.

Two Methods for Magnet Fishing

There are a few different methods employed in magnet fishing. We’ll take a general look at these options.


The Drop and Hop Method



If you’re going to go magnet fishing from a pier, you’ll likely want to divide the dock up into segments for clear boundaries for your search area. This helps you keep track of where you’ve been, and where you’d like to cover this or next trip.


You can use things like vertical supports on wooden railings as your markers for the segments on the dock. First, count the number of railings there are and divide the dock into the number of segments you think are doable for doing a few layers of sweeping in.


Once you’ve made your divisions, you’ll want to start your magnet fishing close to the dock, as close as you can get, in fact.


Next, you’ll do a sweep a little farther out, then a little farther out, and a little farther out. Each sweep should be a series of hops of your magnet, rather than dragging it along. This will be more effective as it reduces the likelihood that your magnet will snag on a rock or hidden log.


If you’re fishing on a metal pier, make sure you don’t get your magnet too close to the metal poles.


This method is suitable for fishing anywhere that you drop the line straight in.


The Drag the Magnet Method



The second main method for magnet fishing is that of dragging the magnet through the water. This is more suitable for situations like canals or rivers. Here, you can use a similar sweeping method with the magnet, covering pretty much every inch of the water.

Getting Out There to Fish

If you’re ready to go out and try your hand at some magnet fishing, be sure to get the right equipment together and read any reviews on the rope, magnets, or grappling hooks that you’re buying.

You don’t want the rope snapping easily, the hook coming undone, or the magnet that’s not strong enough for the type of objects you’re looking for.

Be sure to also double check the laws before you go to places like canals or private lands.

Featured Image by Michial Chace via Flickr.com

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