The Complete Guide: What Is Magnet Fishing? (Easy Read)

While it is true that we use the basic powers of magnets in our everyday lives, most people are unaware of the leisurely activities that can be done with these handy appliances, including magnet fishing. If you are as interested in this idea as I was, keep reading to get all of my detailed research on the topic.

What Is Magnet Fishing? Magnet fishing is the act of using a magnet, usually a very large one, in order to fish out objects from underneath a body of water. This is essentially the exact same thing as regular fishing, only you are hooking a magnet and searching for sunken treasures instead of seafood.

Magnet fishing is an activity that is widely enjoyed by people all around the world, however it is not a topic that is very regularly discussed. In this article, we will be going over all the details on magnet fishing. Stay tuned for a detailed lesson on everything you need to know about the subject.

What Is Magnet Fishing?

Magnet fishing is exactly what it sounds like: using the powers of magnetism to “fish” for objects that are located deep underwater.

Magnet Fishing:

  • Using magnets to fish for treasures underwater
  • Can be used for cleaning up litter in water bodies
  • Locating objects and pulling them up at the same time (using the magnet)
  • Legal in the United States

The holy grail of loopholes for us less sea-competent folk, magnet fishing allows curious adventurers to explore the dark depths without needing to step foot in water.

It is also a wonderfully wholesome way to engage in lake or wildlife cleanup, as magnet fishers often dislodge bicycles, coins and other kinds of metallic litter. Who wouldn’t like to be a treasure hunter while also helping make the world a cleaner place?

The best part? It’s usually perfectly legal in the United States! It’s basically a win-win.

The logic is very similar to using a metal detector to find subterranean goodies on land. The main difference here is that instead of simply locating objects, you can grab them and bring them up to the surface to take home.

Many who have gone magnet fishing are overjoyed to find lost, forgotten artifacts that could not otherwise be unearthed by conventional means.

There are whole subcultures of people who caught the magnet fishing bug, and their stories are posted all over forums, subreddits and blog posts, much like this one.

Stories of finding unconventional waste like old PCs, weapons and benches are popular, and that is just the tip of the iceberg.

In writing this article, I want you to have the tools needed to begin your own magnet fishing excursions whether they be solo, with your friends, with your kids, and everything in between. The experience of reeling in an unknown object is a thrill that everyone should experience at least once.

To begin, we will be looking at the materials needed for successful magnet fishing, of which you do not need much, as well as how to magnet fish, and even the most common magnet fishing finds!

No matter your familiarity with this new craze, I am confident you will be just as enamored with magnet fishing as seasoned explorers.

The beauty of magnet fishing is that you do not need any fancy equipment to get started. Well, as long as you don’t consider a strong magnet and rope fancy! You can even get all of your magnet fishings items for under $50!

All you need is a body of water, things to find, a strong magnet, and strong rope (preferably long, as well). That is it!

With only four items, you too can embark on a quest to find forgotten trinkets at the bottom of your local lake. All materials are readily available in popular online retailers, so don’t be afraid to compare prices.

Don’t get me wrong, magnet fishing requires patience, timing and a sense of adventure, but the beauty of it is that you need less supplies than you would assume.

For starters, you will specifically need to get:

  • A strong, neodymium magnet, double-sided or single-sided
  • A durable rope, anywhere from 30-50ft in length
  • Typical fishing gear like gloves, bucket, towels, etc.

Neodymium is the best choice for magnet fishing because it’s extremely strong in relationship to its total mass and density: a small, 5lbs neodymium magnet can lift 100 times its own weight, which is crucial for dislodging metal objects from underwater debris.

This debris is your worst enemy, as depending on the location, some of these objects can be buried under pounds of soil, grime and lake flora.

But let’s first explain what a neodymium magnet is : it’s an alloy made of neodymium, iron and boron, which is an optimal mix of material for a magnet that can fulfill all of your magnet fishing dreams.

Strong and reliable, many magnet fishers prefer these tools over others on the market. Double-sided and single-sided magnets are popular choices for magnet fishing, and both will certainly yield interesting finds.

The only caveat here is that you need to be absurdly careful when handling a neodymium magnet.

These strong materials can dislodge medical implants like drug pumps or patches, break cell phones, trap limbs, and even shatter other magnets from the pure force.

Never store this magnet near tools or medical monitors, as they can wreak havoc if stored incorrectly.

You have a lot of freedom when selecting a rope, but I would recommend at the very least a durable, 30ft nylon rope if you know you’re not going out to deep water.

In some cases, it may be preferable to take a 100ft cord. The force of the magnet is nothing to laugh at, and if you can get away with packing more rope, I would highly suggest doing so.

There is no greater disappointment than losing your find, as well as your magnet, due to a snapped rope.

Finally, you will need all the gear you would normally take with you for a regular fishing or camping trip.

Gloves are a must, especially if you expect to be able to lift your treasures up from their watery cache; rope burn is a serious bummer.

If you’re going out into open water, sunscreen and comfortable clothes are required if you hope to keep fishing.

Take a bucket with you to store your finds, and keep plenty of towels on hand to clean up yourself, your boat, and your object.

That thing will 100% be covered in watery grime, and it’s important to keep the object in the best possible condition, especially if you plan to restore it. Most of the time though, your object will be unremarkable, but that is no reason to neglect cleaning it.

Lastly, make sure you pack plenty of snacks and water! Depending on the environment and location, as well as your own personal determination, you could be spending upwards of several hours out at a spot waiting for a catch.

The last thing you need is to be forced back home due to dehydration or hunger, so treat each excursion like its own miniature expedition.

And most importantly, keep your sense of curiosity as you explore a new area for magnet fishing.

How To Magnet Fish: An Easy Guide

So you’ve gathered all of your materials and you’re ready to begin searching your local lake for weird and exciting objects that lay at the bottom.

Let’s look at how easy magnet fishing can be when you have the proper setup, technique, and game plan.

If you weren’t already floored, what if I told you can start magnet fishing as soon as tomorrow using this simple guide?

First off, you will need to secure your rope to the neodymium magnet. Companies sell neodymium magnets for this exact purpose, and these types come with a little notch for attaching rope.

Be meticulous and cautious when setting up your rope and magnet. Keep all loose metal away from your immediate area, and never keep your magnet and electronics in the same bag when you’re finished attaching your rope.

Magnet fishing is meant to be flexible and fun; there are no cut and dry rules as to how to secure your magnet, but Boy Scouts should draw on all of their best knot knowledge when deciding what knot to use.

I recommend any knot that can withstand significant pull, and one that won’t easily be undone. Once your magnet is lost, it can be near impossible to lift it up out of the water again, so beware!

Secondly, you need a tried and trusted location for magnet fishing. I already mentioned the legality of magnet fishing in the States, but it never hurts to double check your local property ownership guidelines before accidentally trespassing.

The United Kingdom has stricter rules for magnet fishers, but as it is a relatively new craze, these laws are subject to scrutiny.

Usually when someone discards an item in a public area, it becomes public property and anyone has the right to take it home. Again, it never hurts to double check, so fish cautiously.

Here are some fun initial locations to get you started (in general):

  • Lakes
  • Bridges
  • Marshes
  • Sewers
  • Quarries
  • Wells
  • Drains

However, for the serious beginner magnet-fishers, I did some additional research to come up with the essential criteria that your perfect magnet fishing spot should adhere to. Take a look at the table down below to discover the number one location and strategy followed by the runner-up.

Best Location To Magnet Fish:Best Methods For Magnet Fishing:
1. Urban areas in big cities 1. Outskirts of water bodies
2. Suburban areas 2. Sewer and drainage systems

Depending on your resources, lakes could be a prime place for magnet fishing, though you may not want to invest in a boat.

Not a problem, there are plenty of areas in the shallow parts of the water, and in may cases, they may contain more items than the dead center of the lake.

Think about it, would you go to the trouble of rowing out to the middle of a lake to dump your trash?

The answer is no, and chances are neither did the previous owner of your fished object: shallow areas are perfectly valid spots to search, so again, keep your options open.

Bridges and marshes are also popular areas to explore, and they require different materials -- for a bridge, definitely pack a rope with a lot of length, and make sure you’re not blocking any kind of traffic.

For a marsh, a short rope will do, just be careful not to disturb any wildlife that live there.

Say you do not live in a town with a lot of lakes, bridges or marshes to explore -- not to worry! There are plenty of undiscovered magnet fishing opportunities just waiting to be found, and they can be in some of the most unlikely of places.

Urban locations are prime spots: you don’t even need a boat or wet gear to explore some of these wild locations.

Cities with lots of sewers and quarries will most definitely yield worthwhile finds; wells and drains near suburban areas can also be fun to check out.

Think about it; people have lived in most major cities for decades, and depending on the amount of foot traffic, the locals will almost certainly leave behind caches to discover with your magnet.

Where there are people, there will definitely be interesting finds, so keep an open mind and try everything.

Lastly, let’s talk about technique. In short, there is none! Unlike the need for a wide cast when fishing normally, magnet fishing only requires patience and thoughtful placement of your magnet.

You can drop your magnet just about anywhere, and there is nothing like the feeling of excitement that comes when pulling in a heavy piece of metal caught on your line.

Some fishers prefer to employ traditional fishing techniques and swing the magnet around the area of interest like you would a real fishing line. This technique is useful for expanding the range of influence of your magnet, but isn’t necessary if you’re walking with your magnet.

Traditional fishing methods are best used in locations where actual fishing takes place, like piers or docks. Magnet fishing requires a bit of creativity when you’re in unconventional areas, so use your head and get fishing!

As always, there is a risk of your magnet getting caught, and it can be for multiple reasons: either it is caught in an awkward spot in the land, like between rocks, or the object it is attached to is bolted into the ground, as is the case for tanks that are kept underneath the water.

Many magnet fishers report having to swim out and retrieve their magnets manually, or throwing themselves against the weight of the rope to pull their precious line back. Even the most seasoned of magnet fishers are not free from this issue, so do not be discouraged if your first outing consists of learning how to dislodge unwanted catches.

The Most Common Magnet Fishing Finds

After reading through the previous sections, I’m sure you’re picturing discovering some kind of lost, coveted antique worth millions of dollars, and you’re not completely wrong in thinking that.

Some magnet fishers have reported finding valuable, antique objects that demand a high price at auction, but the reality is that find like these take an absurd amount of patience and luck.

You may be surprised to know, or unsurprised, really, that most of the common finds from magnet fishing are actually pretty boring.

That’s right, no buried treasure, no precious metal coins or antiques, just random mundane objects that were thrown into an environmentally unsound waste disposal area.

This isn’t to say that you won’t find these objects interesting, though. Like I mentioned, magnet fishers constantly find computers, bicycles, firearms and little trinkets.

It’s important to keep an open mind, but to also accept that most of the time, your haul will mainly consist of broken, sometimes dangerous objects.

Some of the most commonly found objects are:

  • Road signs
  • Bicycles
  • Weapons
  • Metal jewelry
  • Tools

Unfortunately, it’s hard to say what exactly you will find in any given excursion -- anyone can toss anything, anywhere! You could say it is one of the joys of magnet fishing, as the result will always be unpredictable.

This is common sense, but any dangerous items you find should immediately be turned in to the proper authorities.

This hobby is fun, exciting and practical, but there is no reason to risk your future just to keep a find. Exercise proper judgment when excavating, and always put your safety first.

Furthermore, you may not always want to take an object home with you - maybe you were fishing for hours and now you have more nails and signs than you know what to do with.

Admittedly, sometimes the junk found during magnet fishing is just that: junk.

Luckily, dumpsters and trash cans can be found everywhere, and as a magnet fisher, it is ethical to throw these pieces of junk away in the proper receptacles when possible.

Some fishers even like to take them home until they can dispose of them properly - when exploring the environment, regardless of the hobby, we have an obligation to keep our spots clean and we should make it a goal to improve our locations with each fishing expedition.

Regardless if your item is considered common, part of the enjoyment of this hobby is sharing the experience with your friends! If you did not bring a group along with you, it is highly recommended to snap a photo and share your treasure on social media.

At the heart of it, magnet fishing is a new sensation that is born from seeking adventure and keeping your mind open to the possibilities.

There are no rules as to how to magnet fish, and it’s a hobby that can be done solo or in groups. So get out there with your magnet and line, and see for yourself all the interesting wonders that can be found in the most tranquil of places.