Everything you Need to Know About Magnet Fishing: A Complete Guide

Everything you Need to Know About Magnet Fishing: A Complete Guide

Magnet fishing is one of the hottest new outdoor activities, and it’s easy to see why. You get to enjoy time outside, discover interesting curiosities, and maybe even find something of value. You also get the peace of mind that comes with helping the environment by clearing man-made debris from our waterways.

But because magnet fishing is a relatively new hobby, it can be tough to find solid advice on how it’s done and what equipment you need. That’s where we come in. We’ve put together a complete beginner’s guide to magnet fishing, from gear to technique to what you can expect to find.

Ready to start your new hobby? Let’s begin!

Essential Magnet Fishing Supplies

In the strictest sense, the only supplies you need for magnet fishing are a fishing magnet and a rope. Everything else is just extra. That said, most magnet fishers also use a carabiner and gloves at a bare minimum for safety, comfort, and versatility.

Fishing Magnet

One common misconception about magnet fishing is that you can just use any old magnet. This simply isn’t the case. If you run down to your local hardware or automotive shop and buy one of their magnets, you’re going to end up being disappointed.

First, you need a magnet that works well underwater. This means you don’t want a traditional iron or steel magnet. Instead, you want one that’s made of neodymium, since neodymium doesn’t corrode like iron and steel will.

Another advantage of neodymium magnets is that they can offer a ton of power for the size. A small, handheld magnet made of neodymium can lift hundreds of pounds, and sometimes even more than a thousand.

Most magnets you’ll find at your local stores have a maximum pull of around 50 to 100 pounds. For most applications, that’s more than enough. But for fishing, you need a bare minimum of 300 pounds. Ideally, you should buy one that pulls with at least 600 pounds of force.

Finally, a fishing magnet should have an eye hook, or at least a threaded hole for home. This gives you a secure attach point to tie your rope off to. The alternative is tying your rope around a magnet, which is not nearly as secure as an eye hook.

Paracord Rope

In addition to your magnet, you’re also going to need a good rope. In fact, a rope needs to be at least as strong as your magnet. If not, it will snap before it’s able to pull your magnet off anything!

Whatever you do, never choose a single line rope, no matter what the official weight rating is. They can easily snap, even if there’s only a tiny bit of damage to the rope.

Always use a braided line, such as paracord. Professional climbing line is a great choice. After all, if it’s designed to function when people’s lives are on the line, it’s good enough for your fishing magnet.

In addition to being strong, a good magnet fishing rope also needs to be long enough for your needs. Don’t just think about water depth. Think about how high you are above the water. Also consider that you’re going to need some extra slack to hold on to.

Carabiner

A carabiner is an optional piece of gear, but they’re popular enough that they’re included in many kits. Many people like them because they can be used as a quick connection. If you have multiple magnets, you can switch them out in mere seconds. Conversely, changing magnets without a carabiner requires you to tie and untie secure knots, which is no fun.

Some magnet fishers even use a second carabiner to secure the end of the rope to their pants. It won’t actually help you attach anything easier, but it will prevent you from losing your rope and magnet if they happen to slip out of your hands.

The downside of a carabiner is that it introduces another potential failure point. Some hobbyists find this too risky, and choose to go without. On the other hand, a good climbing carabiner with a locking gate is rated to support your life, much like a climbing rope. So it should be good enough for a magnet.

Gloves

Magnet fishing gloves aren’t mechanical equipment. They’re primarily safety equipment, to protect you from anything you pull out. After all, you’re going to be dealing with metal that’s been underwater for who knows how long. You might encounter sharp edges, rust, and other hazards. Not only that, but you don’t know what types of germs you’ll find on anything that’s been in the water for very long.

For these reasons, you should primarily be looking for thick, durable gloves that include cut protection. This will ensure that your hands remain safe from injury and disease.

After cut protection, two secondary considerations are comfort and grip. A comfortable pair of gloves will make for a more pleasant experience, and you won’t be tempted to go without them. Finally, a good grip simply makes it easier to hold and manage your rope.

So, if you find a comfortable pair of gloves with cut protection and good grip, you’ve found the complete package.

Accessories

In addition to the basics, there are also some extra tools you might want to add to your magnet fishing kit. Let’s talk for a second about threadlocker and grappling hooks.

Threadlocker

When you first get your fishing magnet check the eye hook at the top to see if it can be unscrewed. If it’s not already threadlocked in, you’ll want to take care of that yourself. The reason for this is that your eye hook can come unscrewed and cause you to lose your magnet. Since you’ll probably never want to remove the eye hook, use the red “permanent” threadlocker for maximum security.

Grappling Hook

A grappling hook is a quick, convenient way to collect objects that are in plain sight. Generally, it’s easier to use than a magnet in these situations, so why not carry one with you?

You can buy one online for just a few dollars. Some people even jury rig their own with old cultivator blades or similar bent scrap metal. That said, a purpose-built grappling hook will have a built-in attachment point for easily connecting your rope.

How to Find the Best Fishing Magnet

A good fishing magnet is the most important tool in your kit. After all, it’s the part that actually latches onto the loot and gets it out of the water. Because of this, it’s important to take care to choose a high-quality magnet that meets your requirements.

We’ve had years of experience looking at fishing magnets, so we know a thing or two about what we’re looking at. Here’s everything you need to know to find the perfect fishing magnet for your needs.

What to Look For in a Fishing Magnet

The number one feature to look for in a fishing magnet is pulling power. Pulling power is exactly what it sounds like: a measure of how hard your magnet can pull. The more pulling power, the heavier the objects you can pull out of the water.

On the face of things, you’d think that more pulling power would always be better. But that’s not always the case. Rather than focusing on an absurdly high weight, look at what you could realistically lift.

Are you buying a magnet for a 10-year-old? A 300-pound magnet could last them for years. Are you bringing a winch with you? Go ahead and spring for that 3,000-pound monster magnet. It all depends on what you’re trying to do.

Another important consideration is the weight of the magnet. This is another aspect you’ll need to balance. On the one hand, heavier magnets will tend to be more powerful. On the other hand, you need to carry that magnet with you. If you’re casting and dragging, you’ll also need to throw it out into the water.

If possible, see if you can throw a magnet before you buy it. If you’re buying online, try throwing an object of similar size and weight. If you can comfortably throw it — and carry it! — you’ll be just fine.

For magnet fishing, water-resistance is a must. This means that any steel magnets must be coated, preferably with a shiny three-layer coating.

A better alternative is simply to use a neodymium magnet. Not only is neodymium completely impervious to corrosion, but you can also get significantly higher strength with lower weight.

The last thing you should be watching out for is a countersunk hole. One or more countersunk holes will allow you to easily insert an eye bolt to attach your rope to. If the kit includes an eye bolt, so much the better.

Regardless of what you end up using, remember that even “beginner” fishing magnets are extremely powerful by everyday standards. Keep them away from electronics, and avoid using them if you have metal teeth or implants.

Different Types of Fishing Magnets

The main choice you need to make when choosing a fishing magnet is the material. Most ordinary magnets are made out of steel or iron. They work just fine for most jobs, but they’re prone to rust, which makes them a poor choice for underwater use.

Instead, the best magnet material is neodymium. Neodymium is a rare Earth element that’s more magnetic than steel, and completely corrosion-resistant.

Another feature you should look for is where the eye bolt hole is located. If it’s on the flat side of the magnet, the magnet is better-suited for sweeping back and forth. If the hole is on the narrow side, it’s better for casting and dragging.

Different Fishing Magnet Features

So, what else should you be looking for when you choose a fishing magnet? Here are a few odds and ends you should look at.

Size

We already talked about power and weight, but the magnet’s surface area is also a factor. The wider the surface area, the more ground you can cover at once. Conversely, a narrower magnet is easier to carry.

At a bare minimum, look for fishing magnets with a diameter of 2 ¼ inches. Anything more than that is a big help, and how big you go is a matter of personal preference.

An Extra Magnet

Okay, so an extra magnet might not be a “feature” per se. But some kits include more than one magnet. The main point of an extra magnet is to retrieve your main magnet if it gets lost.

A Rope

If you’re going to go magnet fishing, you’ll need a rope just as much as you’ll need a magnet. Thankfully, many manufacturers include ropes in their kit. Check reviews before you buy, though, because some of these ropes are unreliable.

Different Fishing Magnet Pull Strengths and When to Use Them

Fishing magnets come in a wide variety of strengths, from light, 300-pound beginner magnets up to over a thousand pounds. Generally, 600 pounds is considered a “beginner” magnet for adults, with anything smaller being considered a children’s size.

Exactly what strength of magnet is best will depend on several factors, but the most important two are:

  • Where will you be fishing?
  • What do you want to catch?

The water type is a huge consideration when it comes to what type of magnet you use. The lighter the magnet, the more easily the water kicks it around. So for gently moving waters, a medium weight will work, while a heavier magnet is best for rushing water or white water.

As we mentioned before, pull strength is mostly dependent on what you want to pull out. If you’re just sweeping for loose change, just about any magnet will do. If you want to retrieve a car or a safe, you’ll need a very heavy magnet indeed.

The Best Fishing Magnets Available

No fishing magnet guide would be complete without a few recommendations, and we’ve got three excellent ones for you. But if we had to pick just one choice as the best fishing magnet, we’d choose the Brute Magnetics 880 Lb Fishing Magnet.

There are several reasons for this, but the first is the reliability of the magnet. It’s neodymium, as are all our top choices, but the steel cup is also coated and well protected, so it holds the magnet much more securely than it otherwise would.

The Brute Magnetics 880 Lb Fishing Magnet sports a countersunk hole, so it’s easy to insert the eyebolt that comes in the kit. There’s even a little bottle of threadlock, giving you everything you need to set up your magnet. Combine that with a powerful pull strength, and you’re looking at one heck of a fishing magnet.

The Diymag Super Strong Neodymium Fishing Magnet is another excellent choice. The magnet itself is housed so that the bulk of the magnetic force is coming from the bottom. This means it’s better suited for swinging than it is for dragging.

The pulling strength is only 500 pounds, which leaves a bit to be desired. That said, it’s more than you can pull by hand, and it’s excellent for snagging change, jewelry, and other small objects.

If you’re looking for a more lightweight option, check out the Redneck Convent 600 lb Capacity Fishing Magnet. It measures only 3 x 7 inches and weighs less than three pounds, so it’s easy to carry around from place to place.

Considering the small size, you might expect a weak magnet, but the Redneck Convent pulls up to 600 pounds. To be fair, this is on the light side for “professional” uses. But for amateurs relying on manual elbow grease, 600 pounds is more than enough.

These are just a few of the many quality fishing magnets on today’s market. For more options, check out our complete fishing magnet buying guide.

Paracord Rope & Carabineer

When you’ve finally picked a magnet, you’re basically done, right? Now all you have to do is grab a rope from the hardware store and get started!

Not so fast. Different ropes offer different benefits, and you want a quality paracord rope that will get the job done without snapping under a heavy load.

Moreover, you might also want a carabiner for added convenience. And much like your rope, not just any carabiner will do. Here’s what you need to know before you buy anything.

What to Look for in a Magnet Fishing Rope and Carabiner

What you should be looking for in a magnet fishing rope will depend on the rest of your rig. For example, if you’re fishing a light 300 pound magnet, for instance, it probably doesn’t make sense to use an ultra-heavy ¾-inch rope. Conversely, if you’re trying to fish a 40-foot reservoir, it wouldn’t make sense to bring a 12-foot rope.

As a general rule, a magnet fishing rope should have enough strength to pull your magnet free of an obstruction, and enough length to go as deep and far as you want to cast. On the other hand, the longer and thicker the rope, the tougher it is to handle and transport.

Finding the best rope is a matter of balancing these attributes. If you own multiple magnets and fish multiple locations, you might even want more than one rope!

Different Types and Features of Rope

So, you just searched the internet for “rope” and you’re more confused than ever. Who knew there were so many kinds? Here’s a rundown of the basics, so you know what you’re looking at.

Rope Material

There are many rope materials to choose from. However, when you’re choosing a climbing rope, you should choose polyester, static rope, or paracord.

  • The best rope material of all is polyester. It lasts for a very long time, and it won’t slip easily when you’re holding it, even when it’s wet.
  • Static rope allows you to easily pull the heaviest loads, since it doesn’t stretch.
  • Paracord is useful if you want a smaller rope, since it offers exceptional strength in smaller sizes.

Avoid natural materials like hemp, since they can decay and get smelly if they’re wet. Conversely, avoid cheap nylon ropes, even if they have a good weight rating. They fray easily, and you’ll end up spending more on frequent replacement ropes.

Rope Length

When you’re choosing a magnet fishing rope, it’s important to first consider how deep the water is. If you’re fishing in a 20-foot lake, for instance, start with 20 feet. Then add enough rope for you to comfortably hang on to. Depending on the weight you’re pulling, this could be as little as a few feet to as much as several yards.

You’ll also want to consider the height of anything you’re fishing off of. So if you’re fishing off a 20-foot pedestrian bridge, add 20 feet. So if you were fishing a 10-foot river off a 15-foot bridge, you’d want at least a 40-foot rope (we’re adding 15 feet for pulling and as added slack).

That said, these kinds of calculations can get tedious, and having some extra slack at the end of the rope never hurt anybody. Buy as long a rope as you can comfortably carry, and you’ll be able to fish in any location you like.

Rope Load Strength

Rope strength is relatively straightforward. You need your rope to be at least as strong as your magnet. Anything less, and it can potentially snap. Anything more is just icing on the cake.

There are guides online to estimate a rope’s strength based on its diameter and the material, but these are just rough estimates. Our advice is to avoid buying any rope if the manufacturer does not indicate the actual strength of the material.

Rope Thickness

Rope thickness is loosely related to strength, that’s not why you should be thinking about it. Instead, look for a rope that’s thin enough to tie easily but thick enough to untie easily. Similarly, look for a rope that’s fat enough to grip comfortably, but not too fat for your magnet’s eye bolt.

In most cases, this is going to work out to a rope with a diameter of between 6 and 10mm. Less than 6mm, and the rope can dig into your hands easily and becomes difficult to untie. More than 10mm, and it gets harder to tie a secure knot around the eye bolt.

Rope Cost

Since magnet fishing is often touted as an affordable hobby, it might be tempted to look for a cheap rope. Don’t. You’ll end up losing your magnet, and it will cost you money in the long run.

This doesn’t mean you have to buy the most expensive, over-engineered rope available. Just avoid anything that’s noticeably “cheap”.

Climbing Carabiners

When it comes to choosing a carabiner, there are really only two things you need to be concerned about. The first is obvious — the carabiner should have a high enough weight rating to pull your magnet.

The second is that you should be using a proper climbing carabiner. A carabiner will have a locking gate, which prevents it from opening by accident and losing your magnet.

The Best Paracord Ropes and Carabiners Available

Just as we did with fishing magnets, we’re about to talk about some of the best magnet fishing ropes on the web. If you’re looking for the best of the best, it’s tough to pass up the GM Climbing Accessory Cord Rope.

To begin with, it comes in lengths of 20, 50, and 100 feet. Admittedly, most magnet fishers will jump straight to the 100-foot version, but the 50-foot version makes sense in shallower water or if space is a consideration.

Either way, you’re looking at a high-quality polyester rope. It’s double-braided, which adds extra strength and durability under stress. The material is also abrasion-resistant, so it won’t wear down too quickly from rubbing on rocks and logs.

A good alternative choice is the Woodland Home Deluxe Magnet Fishing Rope and Carabiner. To begin with, you get a rugged polyester rope that has similar design benefits to the GM rope.

You also get a massive 2,000-pound capacity. You would need a winch or a car jack to snap this rope. And at 8mm in diameter, it’s still ideally sized for magnet fishing.

If you’d rather have a rope that doesn’t stretch, consider the NIECOR Static Climbing & Magnet Fishing Rope. This is a static line, which means that it doesn’t stretch when it’s under stress. The result is a stiffer feel, ideal for heavier finds.

The main thing that separates the NIECOR line from its competitors is its safety record. Many static lines are slippery, which makes them tough to grip, especially when they’re wet. The NIECOR rope is just rough enough to provide a secure grip, so this isn’t a concern.

As with our best magnets, this short list only scratches the surface of the magnet fishing ropes you can buy. For even more options, check out our complete paracord rope buying guide.

Gloves

If you’ve taken your time and chosen a good rope and magnet, it might be tempting to grab any old pair of construction gloves. Work gloves are all the same, right?

Wrong. There are important differences between different types of gloves, and you need to have the right kind for the job. Let’s take a closer look!

What to Look For in Magnet Fishing Gloves

So, what do you want to look for in a pair of magnet fishing gloves? To begin with, you want safety. This means cut-resistance, which means the gloves should be rubberized.

For comfort, a comfortable grip is a must. If you’re already looking for cut-resistant gloves, this shouldn’t be a huge issue. Most of them will already provide enough grip for comfort.

On a similar note, you’ll want to look for extra padding. Palm reinforcement is a huge benefit, since that’s where much of the friction will be. Reinforced fingers are even better, as long as the padding doesn’t interfere with your dexterity.

Finally, look for UV protection. Many rubbers will break down over time in the sun, so your gloves can get stiff and dry after a year or so of use. UV protection will prevent this from happening, so you can fish in the sun as much as you like.

Different Magnet Fishing Glove Features

When you’re choosing a pair of magnet fishing gloves, you’ll have to consider two main attributes: the glove material and the glove style. Let’s take a closer look at each of them.

Glove Material

So, what makes one glove material different from another? It depends on exactly what you’re looking for. Here’s a quick overview of the most popular glove materials, and why they’re useful.

Neoprene gloves are a common choice that’s been around for a long time. Indeed, long before magnet fishing was even a thing, ordinary fishermen were using neoprene gloves to haul their lines.

One major reason for this is the fact that Neoprene keeps your hands warm, even when it’s wet. This means you won’t have to deal with trembling or numb fingers when you need dexterity to pull in your catch.

Neoprene is also popular because of its thickness. This renders it highly slash-resistant, which is useful for grabbing sharp, rough, or rusty objects.

Of course, neoprene has its drawbacks. Because it’s so thick, it can be tough to tie or untie knots in smaller lines. Neoprene also takes longer to dry than most other materials. Still, for most people, it’s the best all-around magnet fishing glove material.

Gore-Tex gloves are a newer alternative that’s similarly durable to neoprene. However, they’re also exceptionally water-resistant, so your hands won’t get soaked just because you dipped your fingers in the water or held a wet rope.

Gore-Tex gloves are also comfortable. They breathe well, so sweat gets wicked away from your hands, and the material is relatively thin and flexible for dexterity. The main downside of Gore-Tex is that it’s considerably more pricey than other glove materials.

Spandex blend gloves provide the maximum of elasticity and flexibility. This offers excellent dexterity, so you can tie and untie even relatively thin magnet fishing ropes.

The downside of spandex blends is that they’re not terribly thick. This means they’re not as durable as other glove materials. They’re also only suitable for use in warmer weather.

Fleece gloves are often overlooked as a choice for magnet fishing. After all, fleece is porous, so you’d think it would be a poor glove choice. However fleece actually keeps your hands dry even when it’s wet. So in fact, it’s an excellent insulating material.

Another significant benefit of fleece is that it dries out quickly. You can hang fleece gloves on a line and they’ll be fully dry in a few hours. Just don’t throw them in the dryer on high heat, or they could get damaged.

Wool gloves are similar to fleece in that they offer excellent insulation even when they’re wet. They’re also easy to dry out, and should also never be dried on high heat. However, wool gloves get smelly when they’re wet. This can be unpleasant when they’re sitting on the seat next to you during the drive home.

Glove Style

Different styles of magnet fishing glove offer their own benefits. But which one is the right choice for you? Here’s a quick list of the most common glove styles, along with their benefits and drawbacks.

Full hand gloves are the most popular glove choice, and it’s not hard to understand why. Primarily, they protect your entire hand, from your wrists to your fingertips. This makes them the best choice for safety, since there are no bare spots that could get stabbed or slash.

Another benefit of full hand gloves is that they keep your hands warmer than other styles. This makes them ideal in cold weather, or even cool weather. On the downside, it can cause your fingers to get sweaty on hot days.

The main downside of full hand gloves is that they limit your dexterity when tying knots. However, if you use a carabiner for attaching your magnet, this isn’t going to be a major issue. Alternatively, you could just tie your magnet on before donning your gloves.

Fingerless gloves are a popular alternative to full hand gloves. Because they leave your fingertips bare, you can tie intricate knots with ease. The downside of this is obvious: exposed fingertips are also more vulnerable to injury. Another downside of fingerless gloves is that they can be uncomfortable to wear in cold weather, or even in cool weather if your hands get wet.

Convertible gloves are a hybrid design that combines the benefit of full hand and fingerless gloves. The fingers flip up and down as needed, so you can take advantage of added dexterity or added protection as needed. That said, because of their more complex design, convertible gloves tend to be more pricey than other styles.

Fillet gloves are a special type of glove that are made for cutting fish. They’re generally made from Kevlar, which provides excellent cut protection as well as a good grip. In addition to this, fillet gloves are very flexible, and provide surprising dexterity for tying knots. On the downside, fillet gloves are the most expensive style of all.

The Best Magnet Fishing Gloves Available

Now that we’ve talked about what you should be looking for, let’s talk about some of the best magnet fishing gloves. Our number one choice at this time is the Palmyth Neoprene Fishing Glove. It’s lightweight and stretchy, which allows for plenty of flex, and the glove is also breathable. This is a must when you’re getting sweaty or wet.

For all of that, the Palmyth glove is also very sturdy. In addition to a neoprene shell, it also sports artificial leather reinforcements. An adjustable strap ensures a secure fit for everyone, making this glove our overall winner.

The Riverruns Fingerless Fishing Gloves are another breathable glove option, but they leave the top halves of your fingers fully exposed. They’re still nice and comfortable, with reinforced, padded palms. Just keep in mind that the fingerless design means you need to be careful about how you hold your rope.

The Magreel UV Protection Fishing Gloves are also fingerless. However, instead of being constructed from neoprene, they’re made from poly-spandex. This makes them just as lightweight and breathable as our last two options, and you can wring them out when they’re wet. They’re exceptionally comfortable to wear, but they’re not as durable as neoprene gloves.

That’s just the beginning. To see all our magnet fishing glove recommendations, read our complete magnet fishing glove buying guide.

Complete Magnet Fishing Kits To Get Started

So far, we’ve talked about shopping for different magnet fishing tools separately. But there are also plenty of magnet fishing kits available for people who just want to get started without a lot of fuss. Here are a few kits that beginning magnet fishers should consider.

Brutes Magnetics Kits

Brutes magnetics is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of magnet fishing supplies. In the past, we’ve reviewed their 300 Lb Brute Box Junior, a reliable starter kit for kids. But they specialize in bigger, more powerful kits for adventurous adult magnet fishers. Here are three of their most popular.

1,200 Lb Kit

The Brute Box 1,200 lb Magnet Fishing Bundle is a hardened plastic case that contains everything you need to start magnet fishing. The star of the show is a powerful, 4.72-inch 1,200-pound magnet that’s powerful enough for most people. Also included is a ¼-inch braided rope, a carabiner, and threadlocker for your magnet. Everything fits neatly inside a soft foam insert inside the case.

2,600 Lb Kit

The Brute Box Double Sided 2,600 lb Magnet Fishing Bundle ups the ante with a 4.57-inch, 2,600-pound magnet and a fatter, ⅓-inch rope. The double-sided design means that you can connect the eye hook to either the top or side of the magnet. The kit also includes a rugged pair of gloves, which makes one less thing you have to buy.

3,600 Lb Kit

For the most ambitious magnet fishers, the Brute Box Double Sided 3,600 lb Magnet Fishing Bundle offers unparalleled performance. You could literally use it to remove a small car from a lake. Like the 2,600-pound kit, the magnet in this one is also double-sided, allowing for multiple fishing techniques.

What is Magnet Fishing?

Magnet fishing is the practice of attaching a powerful magnet to a rope, throwing it in the water, and trying to collect metallic objects. There’s no clear record of where magnet fishing started, although many believe it started with professional anglers using magnets to retrieve lost tackle.

Whatever its origins, magnet fishing has now become very popular in Europe, and has even started to catch on in the United States. With its unique combination of treasure hunting thrills and environmentalism, it’s even become popular with some celebrities like rugby player James Haskell.

In addition to collecting metal objects and taking care of the environment, there are several additional benefits to magnet fishing. To begin with, you can spend hours of fun time with your friends and family, and enjoy the outdoors. It can also be educational. Depending on what you snag, you can end up learning about history or even geology.

Commonly-Found Items During Magnet Fishing

So, what might you find when you throw a magnet into a river or lake? The short answer is: “just about anything.” Once that magnet goes in the water, you never know what you’re going to find. That said, there are some things that magnet fishers see more often than others. Here are a few of the most commonly-found items.

Bicycles

Why do people throw bicycles in the water? We’ll probably never know. But it’s surprising how often you see magnet fishers finding them. Most of the time, the bike is just junk. But once in a while, people find vintage bicycles or other bikes that are of value to collectors.

Railroad Spikes

Railroad spikes are frequently found in all kinds of rivers. This might seem like an odd thing, but it has to do with where people tend to go magnet fishing. Since many people fish around bridges and piers, including railroad bridges, it makes sense that they’ll end up retrieving a lot of railroad spikes.

Fishing Gear

Wherever you can go magnet fishing, you can go fishing, which means there’s plenty of old tackle laying on the bottom of most lakes and rivers. With the right magnet, you can retrieve a small collection of lures in no time flat.

Guns

From time to time, you’ll find a gun in the water. Sometimes, these are antique firearms that make great collectors items after they’ve been cleaned up. More often, they’re modern guns that have been discarded. As a matter of fact, police have sometimes asked magnet fishers for help solving cold cases.

Signs

Magnet fishers often find road signs at the bottom of rivers and lakes. Whether they were removed as a prank or discarded by lazy construction crews remains a mystery.

Other Miscellaneous Items

In the water, you’ll find old tools, scrap metal, license plates, and even jewelry. What you find on any given day comes down to blind luck, but that’s part of the excitement!

Magnet Fishing FAQs

Before we wrap up, let’s tackle some of the most frequently-asked magnet fishing questions.

Is magnet fishing legal?

In the United States, magnet fishing is currently legal in all 50 states. There are no federal or state regulations that ban the hobby. Needless to say, this assumes you have the right to access the water. If you’re magnet fishing on private property without permission, it’s trespassing.

In the United Kingdom, things get a bit more complex. Magnet fishing is legal on privately-owned land. However, it’s not legal in any water that’s controlled by the Canal & River Trust. So before you throw a magnet in the water, make sure you know who owns the rights. Regulations in other countries may vary, although magnet fishing is generally legal throughout Europe. One major exception is France, where magnet fishing has been banned due to people retrieving unexploded World War II weapons.

Is magnet fishing dangerous?

Like most outdoor hobbies, magnet fishing is not without its share of dangers. In most cases, dangers are of the everyday kind. For example, you could easily twist your ankle walking over river rocks. Similarly, you could cut yourself if you pull up a sharp or rusty object. Needless to say, you’ll want to be current on your tetanus shot before you pull random metal objects out of the water. This is also one of the reasons it’s important to wear gloves while you’re magnet fishing.

That said, you never know what you’re going to pull up. For instance, we already talked about finding guns. In most cases, water will have rendered the gun ineffective, but there’s no way to be sure. Treat any gun as if it’s loaded and fully capable of firing, and keep it pointed away from yourself and other people.

In even more unusual cases, people have been known to pull up explosives. In France, the site of many World War I and World War II battles, this danger is severe enough that magnet fishing is illegal in most cases. In the United States, this is uncommon, but it has happened. If you come across any explosives, exercise common sense, leave them where they are. You don’t know what condition they’re in or what might set them off. Call the authorities immediately and tell them what you found and where you found it. Don’t be like the Florida couple who brought a hand grenade to Taco Bell before calling the police.

What are the most valuable things people have found magnet fishing?

Most of the things you’ll find while magnet fishing will have little to no monetary value. You could spend all afternoon magnet fishing for scrap iron and end up with only a few dollars to show for it. There are far, far easier ways to make money. Most people enjoy magnet fishing for the opportunity to spend some time outdoors and discover interesting things. An old street sign or license plate might not be worth much, but they can be fun to find. As an added bonus, you get the satisfaction of cleaning up the environment.

On the other hand, magnet fishers have sometimes collected valuable items. The most common valuable items you’ll see on forums are old coins. Depending on how old they are, these coins can be worth a lot of money to collectors. The same can be said for old knives, guns, and other military artifacts — although, as we said, guns in particular should always be handled carefully. The most valuable thing you’re likely to find is jewelry. This is uncommon enough that you shouldn’t count on it, but you never know!

What are the best magnet fishing spots?

For the most part, when you’re magnet fishing, you’re trying to retrieve man-made objects. So if you want to have any success, you’ll need to fish where there’s a lot of human activity. Specifically, look for areas with a lot of foot traffic. In cities, this often means historical areas and parks. In suburbs, this more often means fishing piers.

If you have a lot of tourists in your area, look in waterways where they congregate. Busy pedestrian bridges are the best locations, since you can often find bicycles and other debris underneath them.

What are the best magnet fishing methods?

There are a few effective methods of magnet fishing. Which one is most effective will depend on what kind of area you’re fishing in. Let’s start with piers and docks, since that’s where most people end up going.

The key with a pier is to fish the entire perimeter, wherever someone would have been able to drop something over the side. To fish this area effectively, the most effective method is to mentally divide the pier into segments. The easiest way to do this is to use railing supports, benches, or trash cans as visual markers.

Fish each segment thoroughly, moving your magnet from side to side. Start with the magnet right next to the dock, and slowly work your way out until you’re as far out from the side of the dock as you can reach.

When you move the magnet, try to avoid dragging it, since it can snag on a rock or other obstruction. Instead, lift it a few inches, and slowly move it a few inches to the side at a time. Slow and steady is hey, here. You don’t want to move too fast, or you won’t feel the weight change if you’ve collected something small.

This same method also works for bridges, or anywhere that you can reach over the water. Be careful on bridges or piers with metal supports, though. Your magnet can get stuck to the support, which can be a headache to get unstuck.

For fishing off a shore or bank, you won’t have the option of gently sweeping the magnet back and forth. Instead, you’ll have to cast it like a traditional fishing line and “reel” it back in by pulling the rope in hand over hand.

Try to do this slowly and gently. Number one, as with the sweeping method, moving slowly makes it easier to tell when you’ve caught something. Number two, if you move your magnet too quickly, you’ll be more likely to get stuck.

What do I do if my magnet gets stuck?

Even if you’ve done everything right, your magnet will inevitably get stuck at some point. Before you attempt a fix, the first thing you need to know is how it’s stuck. Is it snagged on a log or other obstruction? Or has it grabbed onto a large, heavy object that you can’t move?

In the event of a snag, getting your magnet unstuck is a lot like freeing up a stuck lure. Find a long, forked branch and reach out as far as you can. Lift the rope with the fork in the branch, and try to see if you can free up the magnet from further out. In many cases this will resolve the issue.

In other cases, the magnet will be well and truly caught. In that case, your only option may be to swim out and retrieve it manually. Only do this if you can swim safely in the area you’re fishing. It’s not worth it to risk your life for a magnet, even a fancy neodymium magnet.

In the event that you’re caught on a metal object, things can be a bit trickier. First, try using a stick to pull from different angles, just as you would with a snag. This can sometimes get it free without further effort.

The alternative is pure brute force. When you pull on the rope, jerk it sharply rather than applying steady tension. This is more effective. If you need more leverage, you can even wrap the rope around your body a few times and use your body weight.

If you can see your magnet, try to pull from the side rather than from the top. This is generally much easier, since the magnet will often just slide off whatever it’s stuck to.

If manual force doesn’t work, a ratchet, car jack, come-along, or even a trailer hitch can be used. Be careful using mechanical tools like these, though. If you snap the rope, it can whip back hard enough to injure you.

What is proper magnet fishing etiquette?

Proper magnet fishing etiquette depends on whether or not anyone else is fishing nearby. If you’re all by yourself, you’re golden. Fish however you like and enjoy what you catch. That said, things get a bit more complicated when there are other people in the area trying to catch actual fish. In that case, good etiquette is simple: don’t scare the fish.

How easy this is will depend on what fishing technique you’re using. If you’re sweeping your magnet of a pier or bridge, it’s relatively easy to stay quiet. On the other hand, if you have to throw your magnet out into the water, it’s inevitably going to scare fish. Your best bet is simply to choose a different location where no-one else is around.

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