Imagine all the things that have been dropped into bodies of water over the years. Watches, jewelry, phones, guns, and pretty much anything else you can think of are lost and seemingly gone forever. That’s where magnet fishing comes in (and it has nothing to do with fish).
What is Magnet Fishing?
Magnet fishing, or magnetic fishing, involves dropping a strong Neodymium magnet attached to a rope into a river, creek, lake, or other body of water. Magnet fishers and anglers alike will find that while it is similar to fly fishing, the powerful magnet can find and recover metal objects like jewelry, weapons, bicycles, and more instead of recovering fish. This can help to scratch that itch in metal detecting hobbyists by giving them a new experience in treasure hunting.
Neodymium magnets are extremely strong. Neodymium is a rare-earth magnet, meaning it’s made out of rare-earth elements. Only 17 rare-earth elements exist. The “rare” part doesn’t mean they’re hard to find, but that they are not found in high concentrations, and are challenging to find in their pure form.
Rare-earth elements are part of what makes our modern world tick. They’re in nearly every piece of technology: cell phones, catalytic converters, MRI scanners, microwave ovens, computers, and more.
According to University College Professor Andrea Sella, rare earth magnets are 10 times as powerful as a normal iron magnet, and some can hold 1,000 times their own weight.
It’s an exciting experience to find something that has rested at the bottom of a river for a long time, and if it’s made of ferrous material, a Neodymium magnet will find it.
Choosing Your Magnet Fishing Gear
To get started, select a magnet designed specifically for magnetic fishing, as well as a rope. The magnets are rated by pounds of lift or pulling force. The pull force is the highest possible holding power and is the force required to pry a magnet away from a flat steel surface.
Temperature, environmental conditions, and the material of the item you’re pulling out of the water all affect the magnet’s performance. If you have a magnet with a pull force of 880 lbs., for example, that doesn’t mean that you can pull an item that weighs that much out from the bottom of a river. The pull weight is determined at a lab under ideal conditions, and those conditions don’t exist out in nature.
Most magnet fishing enthusiasts recommend a magnet with a pull weight of between 300-500 pounds for beginners. There are also models designed specifically for younger and first time treasure hunters.
A basic figure-eight follow-through knot is the best knot to use as you loop your rope through the eyebolt that comes on magnets designed for magnet fishers. A Palomar knot will work as well.
It’s best to use a nylon paracord rope that’s at least 50 feet long. Paracords hold knots very well and are slightly elastic. If you plan to fish from bridges, or if you know the place you want to fish is very deep, use a 100-foot rope.
Most magnets you purchase will also come with a thread locker that will prevent the eyebolt from unscrewing.
Invest in a pair of gloves, since you’ll be tugging on a rope and may end up bringing up items that are rusty and possibly sharp. Other protective gear, like safety glasses, isn’t a bad idea either, since you never know what you’ll find while treasure hunting. Bring along a bucket for your finds and a trash bag for the junk. A great place to start is to purchase a magnet fishing kit or bundle that has all of your needs, like the Brute Magnetics Brute Box 1200.
Using Your Fishing Magnet
Some of the best places to go magnet fishing include places with a lot of foot traffic, like fishing piers, docks, underneath bridges, near historic sites, or canals. Be aware of boaters near these busy bodies of water, for your safety and the safety of those around you.
Fishing piers are great locations for magnet fishing, too.
Check up on local laws before you start magnet fishing because it’s illegal in some rivers in Western Europe, and you’ll need a permit in other areas. This is because rivers in places like England are littered with weapons from World War II, including undetonated explosives, like grenades.
Once you’ve selected your location, set up all your gear.
There are different methods of magnet fishing. The up and down method involves throwing the magnet into the water and not dragging it. Just drop it in and lift it up.
The throw and pull method involves throwing the magnet out as far as you can, then pulling it back in. You’ll most likely snag objects along the way, but the downside is that your magnet can get stuck at the bottom of a lake or other bodies of water.
To use the throw, pull, and walk method, throw the magnet in, then take a walk along the river or creek as you drag the magnet along.
Other magnet fishers prefer the “hop” method. That avoids dragging the magnet and instead drops the magnet in, lifts it up and sets it back down just a few inches away. That prevents the magnet from getting lodged somewhere.
One of the benefits of magnetic fishing is that it cleans up the river by pulling out a hefty amount of junk. Make sure to clean up after yourself once you’re done for the day. Bring home your finds and clean them up, especially so you don’t contract an infection like tetanus, but don’t throw the junk back into the river. Dispose of it in a trashcan or at a convenience center.
Note: Pacemakers and electronics can be affected by strong magnetics. If you wear a pacemaker, you shouldn’t use strong magnets.