1. What is magnet fishing?
Magnet fishing uses a strong magnet to try and grab magnetic (ferrous) metal objects that are hidden or lost underwater. If you want to try grabbing something lost on the bottom of a lake, pond, or river, a magnet on a rope might do the trick.
What magnets do people use to magnet fish?
Many of our customers have reported success using strong mounting magnets, which we mention in our Mounting Magnets article. Mounting magnets also make great fishing magnets because they are durable and you can easily tie them onto the end of a rope, especially our eye-hook mounting magnets (MMS-G).
Our eye hook mounting magnets (MMS-G) are popular, with an eye-hook for attaching a rope or cable. Some of our customers have reported good results using a male stud mounting magnets (MMS-C) and female stud mounting magnets (MMS-D) magnet screwed together, with the rope/cable/cord tied on the space between them. The idea is that this combination might be more likely to catch onto an object below the water’s surface.
For long term underwater use, consider plastic coated magnets for a waterproof solution.
2. Best magnets to use for magnet fishing
Fishing magnets with top eye hook
Our single-sided fishing magnets are great for pin-point targeting and are super powerful. They are also easier to handle as magnetic objects will only stick well to the single open face.
- Offers a strong, concentrated magnetic pull in one direction, ideal for vertical lifts and targeting specific items
- Strengths up to 500lb!
- Easier to handle with only one open face
Double-sided fishing magnets with eye hook
Our double-sided fishing magnets are great because they allow a slightly larger pickup area than the single-sided version. These are powerful magnets and can lift large objects.
- Versatile and effective in both vertical and dragging applications
- Up to 500lb pull force!
- Wider sweep range and increased chance of finding objects
Mounting magnets with top eye hook
Our eye hook mounting magnets are more affordable, come in smaller sizes and strengths and a rope can easily be attached. This is a good way to start magnet fishing and get used to the tremendous power of neodymium magnets.
- Smaller initial investment
- Strength for all levels of magnet fishers
- Larger selection of sizes
- Best configuration for straight dropping and lifting and pin-point targeting
Combine male and female stud (yo-yo) mounting magnets
We picked the 2” diameter male stud mounting magnet (MMS-C-Y0) and female stud mounting magnet (MMS-D-Y0) and screwed one to the other. Then we tied a rope between them. Make sure you torque the two magnets tightly together. If they come unscrewed underwater, the rope won’t hold them! We have metric mounting magnets available too if they better suits your needs.
- Many affordable magnets to choose from in standard and metric sizes
- Easy to screw together and tie on a rope
- Wider pickup range
- Great for beginner magnet fishers
Custom fishing magnets with a mounting magnet assembly
Don't like the above options for fishing magnets? Don't worry, we have other types of mounting magnets that will allow you to make your own custom assembly like the below monster fishing magnet we made. You can choose from any of our mounting magnets to find the option right for your design!
- Can choose from any mounting magnet shape
- Can make assembly to meet your magnet fishing needs such as a single, double or an array like below
- Can choose the strength appropriate for your skill level or what you are looking to catch
Monster fishing magnet assembly for big hauls
Not satisfied with the above options, we figured that we should show up at the lake with some bigger, stronger magnets that would be ridiculously strong. For the monster magnet picker-upper, we bolted three MMS-B-Z0 magnets across a length of aluminum extrusion, and tied that to our rope. This setup is a lot more powerful, so we did worry about it getting attached to something that would exceed our ability to pull up with a rope.
This setup is more powerful than you really want for magnet fishing. We don't recommend it. We only used it here in the spirit of so many TV shows and blog articles that go over the top with extra strength. It's like the Mythbusters guys blowing stuff up at the end, simply because they can. If we had accidentally stuck these magnets to the steel frame of a dock, the magnets might still be there now. Choose magnets that you'll be able to pull free with your rope!
3. How to use fishing magnets
Magnet fishing from the dock or from a fixed location near the water's edge
We started our tests from a dock at a local lake. To make sure we would have at least one successful “find,” we tossed a steel bottle opener into shallow water near the dock.
With the male and female stud mounting magnets MMS-C-Y0 and MMS-D-Y0 secured to the end of a rope, we tossed the magnets in hoping to grab the opener. These magnets are strong, or we’re lucky, because we were able to grab the opener easily on the first toss. It works!
Granted, this was in shallow water. On such a sunny day, we could see the opener lying on the bottom. Still, it’s proof that magnets like these are a handy way to pick up a dropped object.
Next, we tossed the bigger magnets off the end of the dock, searching for whatever we could find. On one of our first throws, we captured a big pipe elbow and a large fishing hook. The heavy, rusty pipe was an easy grab for the powerful magnets. A few snails nestled inside the pipe came along for the ride.
Magnet fishing from a boat
To cover more distance, we set out in kayaks to drag the magnets across more lake-bottom. With the magnets dangling on 50+ feet of rope, we went hunting for treasure on the bottom of the lake.
The experience wasn’t completely problem-free. When going by a rocky area, the magnet and rope sometimes got caught in the rocks. In a kayak, it was easy to back up and go yank the magnet out. In a motorboat, we might have simply broken the rope.
There’s lots of stuff sitting on a lake bottom that could trap a magnet on a rope. Be careful, but also be prepared to lose a magnet.
Most of what we found in our limited, 2-hour fishing trip was closer in towards shore. Near the marina, we found a socket that must have been dropped by an unfortunate boat mechanic some time ago.
Perhaps our most interesting find was something that we were not able to pull up. We located something strong using the smaller mounting magnets. When we pulled slowly up on the rope, the magnets broke free. The magnetic hold wasn’t strong enough to pull the object up.
The object appeared fixed on the bottom. We could find it repeatedly using the magnets. We tried to pull it up using the big 3” magnets, as shown towards the end of the video below. The magnets grabbed onto it well, but still were not strong enough to retrieve the object.
What was that thing? It could have been a boat anchor, firmly wedged into the gunk on the bottom. Our guess was a steel cable strung across the bottom of the lake. It was near some docks, so maybe the cable had something to do with those.
The pull of the magnets wasn’t strong enough to pull the object loose from the bottom. Remember, the pull force you get from a magnet depends on what you’re sticking it to. A powerful MMS-B-Z0 magnet can pull with hundreds of pounds of force when sticking to a solid steel surface (like the one that holds up a person in our Is a Magnet Strong Enough to Lift a Man? video). If the steel object is smaller, though, the force could be a lot less. You won’t see 300 lb of force from the magnet to a paperclip.
4. Top 5 reasons to go magnet fishing
Thrill of the hunt!
The number one reason for most people to go magnet fishing is to find cool stuff. This can range from relics of the past to lost items. Many of the magnet fishers we hear from seem to fall into two groups: Treasure Hunters and Tool Droppers.
Treasure hunters are filled with excitement and hope to find interesting things. Sometimes the found objects can be historically interesting. Rarely, something valuable might be found. While some trips might not find anything of interest, it’s still a good excuse to go sit by the water for a while.
Tool droppers are after objects that haven’t been in the water quite so long. Maybe that boat mechanic would have liked to pick up his dropped socket. With a strong magnet and a little rope, that 15 feet of water isn’t a problem.
Some magnet fishers are motivated by the possibility of discovering historical items. Old coins, weapons, or tools found in water bodies can provide a fascinating glimpse into the past.
Magnet fishing can be seen as a way to clean up waterways. Pulling up metal debris and discarded items helps clean the environment, which is rewarding for those who are eco-conscious.
Outdoor activity and relaxation
For many, magnet fishing is a peaceful outdoor activity. It provides an opportunity to spend time near water and in nature, which can be very relaxing and meditative. It is also a good way to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Compared to many hobbies, magnet fishing requires relatively low investment in terms of equipment and ongoing costs, making it accessible to a wide range of people. Check out our affordable fishing magnets and see what you can catch!
5. Lessons learned after trying magnet fishing for the first time
Like treasure hunting with a metal detector, magnet fishing is not for the impatient. It’s a big lake and a small magnet, so you might not find much very quickly.
We also learned that there's lots of iron junk on the bottom of a lake! Rusted bits of metal, steel cable, and many rocks that contain iron often stick to the magnets. Periodically, we scraped off iron-bearing dirt and rocks from the magnets. Be prepared to clean.
If you’re going magnet fishing, bring a pair of sturdy work gloves to scrape the mess off without cutting yourself on something rusty. Since metal objects may be sharp, strong gloves and care are needed to prevent possible injury.
If you are in a boat and dragging the fishing magnet along the bottom, be careful of snags. If the rope snaps, you may need a backup fishing magnet to fish up the first one.
6. Top 10 tips for magnet fishers
Choose the Right Magnet: Select a magnet based on your needs. Neodymium magnets are a popular choice due to their strong magnetic pull. Consider the weight capacity and whether you want a single-sided or double-sided fishing magnet. Check out our fishing magnets.
Use Appropriate Rope: Your rope should be strong, durable, and long enough to reach the depths you're targeting. Make sure it's securely tied to your magnet.
Safety First: Always wear gloves to protect your hands from sharp objects and ensure you have a plan for safely disposing of any hazardous materials you might find.
Scout Good Locations: Look for places with historical significance or high foot traffic such as old bridges, piers, historic waterways, and public parks with lakes or rivers.
Be Patient: Magnet fishing requires patience. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t find something immediately.
Properly Clean and Store Your Magnet: After each use, clean your magnet and dry it to prevent rust. Store it in a safe place away from electronic devices. Saving the box our fishing magnets come in is a great way to store them. Check it out in our Magnet Storage & Organization article.
Keep a Findings Log: Keep track of where you’ve been and what you’ve found. This can help in future trips and adds to the hobby's enjoyment.
Learn Knot Tying: Knowing a few strong knots can ensure your magnet stays securely attached to the rope.
Bring a Bucket or Bag: Have a container with you for storing the items you find, especially if they are rusty or dirty.
Research and Connect: Join online forums or local groups to learn more tips and best practices from experienced magnet fishers.
Bonus tip: carry a toolbox to store all magnet fishing equipment
Naturally, we don’t think a toolbox is complete without a magnet or two in it. We always have a few magnets in our toolboxes. We are continually surprised at how often a small, powerful magnet comes in handy. Popular magnets to stash in the toolbox include the D68PC-RB (for identifying poles), the D6C (for magnetizing screwdrivers and other stuff), telescoping magnetic pickup tools and of course a single MMS-G-X8 or MMS-G-Y0 if you plan on going magnet fishing soon.
Good luck fishing!