Magnet Fishing – A Step By Step Guide

Magnet Fishing is one of the fastest growing hobbies worldwide right now and if you are looking for some inspiration then this is the place to be.

Let’s first of all dispel some myths magnet fishing is NOT fishing with magnets! It also is not a magnet game for kids, it’s an addictive hobby for people of all ages and fish aren’t magnetic!

Magnet Fishing

So what is magnet fishing?

Magnet fishing is where you throw a really strong magnet into a canal, river or other body of water and pull it out again to see what has become stuck to the magnet.

It’s not completely unlike metal detecting in that you are trying to find buried “treasures” to dig up except that now we’re doing this under water.

The items that you can recover are magnetic and you can find all sorts of interesting things (and people do on a regular basis!) such as WW2 machine guns, hand grenades, stolen safes, bicycles and more. You will also find plenty of old nails, shopping trolley’s, tools and other bits of nonsense too so be prepared for all sorts.

Magnet fishing enthusiasts say that it is incredibly addictive and really fun to do, not only that but it get’s you outdoors and you can involve the family so it’s a great pastime for anyone to get enjoyment from.

Fisherman have been retrieving lost objects over the side of their boat for a long time so it is nothing new but it has caught on as an addictive pastime over the last few years.

A quick recap:

  • Magnet fishing uses strong magnets to fish items out of a body of water.
  • With magnet fishing there is an eye (or loop) on the magnet so you can recover it using a line.
  • A rope (or two ropes) are threaded and then tied through this loop so you can recover the magnet with it’s loot attached.
  • Magnet fishing is not new, it has been used by fisherman and others to recover items they have dropped overboard for many years but it is fast becoming an incredibly popular hobby with lots of people.
  • The magnets have various strengths and sizes and measured in diameter (mm) and pull force (Llbs or Kg). To an extent it is the size and strength of a magnet which affects it’s price.
  • The type of magnet suitable for magnet fishing is called a “rare-earth” or neodymium magnet and they are very powerful.
  • The start up costs of magnet fishing are very low, you can start with very basic equipment – you do need a very strong neodymium magnet though.
magnet fishing
Magnet fishing is one of the fastest growing hobbies worldwide right now

What do you need to get going with magnet fishing?

Here’s the basic kit list:

  • A strong neodymium magnet
  • A rope which won’t snap easily (climbing ropes are best)
  • Gloves (to protect your hands)
  • Cloths (you’ll need them, trust us)
  • A bucket (to put your items into)
  • Cleaning gel or somehow to wash your hands
  • A knife (for cutting the rope if you need to)

Don’t just use any old rubbish equipment though, if you do you’ll likely find that you’ll lose your magnet pretty quickly or nothing will attach to the magnet and you will waste your time.

You will need a good quality magnet in the very least, many people use any old rope they have which is fair enough but you may end regretting it, if you are planning to enjoy your new hobby then it is worth going for it and getting the right equipment.

What magnet do you need for magnet fishing?

So this brings us onto – what type of magnet do you need for magnet fishing?

The short answer is you need a neodymium magnet which is one of the strongest types of magnet in the world and are known as “rare-earth” magnets.

They are so powerful that you need to be careful that they don’t get too close to any electronic item such as your phone otherwise they will likely cause them some problems.

You also need to be careful not to bring two of these magnets together as you will likely never be able to pull them apart again!

Here’s a picture of a typical neodymium magnet.

A rare-earth neodymium magnet used for magnet fishing
A rare-earth neodymium magnet used for magnet fishing

As you can see the magnet has an eyelet, a flat bottom and is compared against a euro coin as an example of size.

Magnet fishing magnets have a flat bottom

The reason for the flat bottom is because when the magnet is flat against an object the strength of the magnet is at it’s most powerful, you do have to remember though that objects that you’ll be pulling out of a canal or river may have been there for many years.

They will be covered in all sorts of dirt and grime and very unlikely to be sat perfectly level just waiting for your magnet to attach themselves.

This is the reason why you need a strong magnet – it won’t come off easily! It should attach itself to heavy or awkward objects with enough force so that you can pull them out again.

Magnet fishing magnets have an eyelet

Unlike the type of magnet you find in your old TV or stereo you can see that a neodymium magnet used for magnet fishing has rather a large eyelet in it and this is for threading your rope through and tying it off.

Many people like to tie 2 ropes to their magnet in case 1 snaps or the whole thing get’s lodged and you can’t pull it out again, using a 2nd rope and pulling it from a different angle allows you to rescue most situations.

Magnet fishing magnets are small but very powerful

The coin in the picture shows a rough estimate of the size of a typical magnet, although they do vary and there is some personal preference on the diameter used by some people.

Don’t be fooled by a larger diameter though as it is the strength of the magnet itself is typically 500 lbs and above.

There are many places to buy magnets online (best place to buy them) but they tend to be cheaper on places like Amazon, you can also now buy a full pre-done kit like this one so get you going in no time at all.

Obviously the magnet is the crucial part of magnet fishing, this magnet is one of the strongest and best magnets you can buy at the best price too.


Tip: the magnets comes with the eyelet detached, it is attached with a counter sunk screw. Apply some Loctite or super glue to the thread to stop it unscrewing when you need it most.

Is there any particular type of rope I need for magnet fishing?

Yes a para-cord or nylon rope like the ones typcially used in rock climbing are recommended and ideally be at least 50 feet in length which will allow for the depth of the water plus length from the bank or wherever you are standing with enough length left over to have some slack.

Most people who have done magnet fishing for a while suggest you attach 2 ropes to your magnet but this isn’t completely necessary and comes down to personal choice.


The rope is one of the most important elements of magnet fishing and not to be taken lightly.

There’s lots of types of rope to choose from but this list here comes highly recommended.

Gloves, cloths, cleaning gel, a bucket and a sharp knife

These are the other items that you will need to take with you. They’re pretty obvious and you can pick them up anywhere or you many even have some ready to go at home.

With that said we’ve taken a look at some of the best recommended magnet fishing accessories here for you.

Where can I go magnet fishing?

You can go magnet fishing wherever a body of water is present but to make it even more interesting there are a few things you could consider first which we’ll cover in just a minute.

It is worth mentioning at this point that a lot of people still don’t have a clue what magnet fishing is and if they see you pulling ropes out of water they usually get intrigued and might ask what you are doing, it is not unheard of for the police to stroll by for a quick chat either so be warned!

With that in mind you need to make sure that you have permission from the land owner before you get down to it unless of course you are in a public space and then you should just apply common sense.

  • Streams
  • Rivers
  • Lakes
  • The sea
  • Canals
  • Swamps
  • Wells
  • Creeks
  • Sewers

These are all legitimate places to go visit for a session of magnet fishing.

Consider the age and history of the place when magnet fishing

Who used to use this space? Is there any significant history attached to the site? What was it used for?

If you do your research before hand you can pick some real winners, people like to pick sites of specific historic interest with the hope of finding some discarded piece of history and they often do!

What can I do with the things I find when magnet fishing?

People either keep it, sell it or donate stuff to museums that they find, sometimes items even get returned to their owner.

Can I make money with magnet fishing?

In truth most of the stuff you find will likely be other people’s junk but people do find real gems on a regular basis.

Depending on what you find you can sell it on Ebay, Craiglist or Facebook marketplace. Items of historic interest can be sold to collectors or even things like a safe (which seem to get found quite a lot) can yield some value, perhaps not from the contents inside but by selling the safe itself.

Is magnet fishing illegal?

In some instances, there is lake or canal that make encroach upon land owned by somebody and this is known as “Riparian rights” where essentially the division of land lies somewhere in the middle of the body of water. 

There is no record of anybody ever being arrested (that we can find) for magnet fishing although you may find that you accidentally end up on private land.

There is a term called “Riparian rights” where land has been divided but this division crosses in the middle of the water and one half is owned by one person and the other half by someone else. It is unlikely that you will know this and may only find out if you are paid a visit from an unhappy land owner. Wikipedia has an entry for this which covers it in detail for those wanting to find out more.

The chances are if you do find yourself being confronted by a land owner they will be more curious than annoyed as to what you may pull out of their lake.

It may be worth you checking first if you have permission but sometimes it’s not too clear who actually owns the land or water in the first place so you may have to take your chances.

Is magnet fishing dangerous?

People pull sorts of items of canals, wells, lakes etc including:

  • Unexploded bombs
  • Bullets
  • Guns
  • Swords

Most of the things you find will not be as exciting as this but nevertheless this is a pretty scary list of things that you could be recovering so be careful.

With this in mind, other dangers that could be lurking involve:

  • Swinging a magnet on a rope, dangerous if you hit somebody
  • Retrieving a magnet with people stood by you and the rope suddenly becomes slack and they get hit
  • Retrieving sharp items, careful they don’t hit somebody
  • Handling sharp items, this is what your gloves are for, try not to cut yourself there’s all sorts of germs and nasties lurking on those items

What else should I be aware of when magnet fishing?

  1. Practise your throw and retrieve on dry land before committing to water.
  2. Visit a local body of water first to get the hang of it before venturing further afield.
  3. The type of technique you use will depend on the type of water you are fishing in, use the most appropriate method (see below).
  4. Use common sense if possible when picking where to magnet fish, people will be curious, land owners may be annoyed etc
  5. For your rope use a rope winder, it’s easier to carry and easier to store.
  6. Be mindful of other users of the lake or canal, particularly people who are fishing who make not take kindly to you slinging a magnet where they are fishing.
  7. You are helping to clean up messy lakes and canals so don’t throw back the stuff you don’t want to keep, bin it instead.
  8. Take a picture of better still a video on your phone to share your finds with the world – there are plenty of places where you can do this.
  9. Losing magnets is a hazard of the trade unfortunately so be prepared to lose yours occasionally.
  10. Use loctite or other glue, use only sturdy strong ropes and above all else make sure your knots are perfect otherwise you will be quickly disappointed.

How to magnet fish

Step 1

Thread your rope through the eyelet in the magnet and use a good knot to secure it (see below)

Step 2

Decide whether to use a 2nd rope or not and once attached (optional but recommended) pick the place you want to fish. If you are random about how you cover the area you are fishing in you may miss something special so it’s best to be methodical.

Step 3

Use the most appropriate method from below for your actual fishing technique


Method 1 – The drop and retrieve

This method is best suited to smaller areas that you are working in such as a well, stream or creek. Simply lower the magnet slowly into the water until slack appears on the rope (this means the magnet has hit the bottom) and then pull the rope back up again.

Method 2 – The throw and pull

This method is used for areas where you have restricted movement perhaps due to structures such as buildings or even other people but there is quite some space in the body of water itself to justify being able to throw your magnet before pulling it back in again.

Method 3 – The throw, walk and pull

This is similar to the throw and pull except that you have more freedom to move around, be cautious here though because if you attach something and then walk with it you face the chance of it becoming snagged.

How to tie a knot for magnet fishing

how to tie a magnet fishing knot - the palomar knot

Many people say the Palomar knot is the most effective for magnet fishing but there are many you can try.

Here are the steps for tying a Palomar knot (best knot for magnet fishing):

Step 1: Make a loop at one end of the rope. …

Step 2: Insert the loop through the eyebolt. …

Step 3: Loop it over on to itself. …

Step 4: Insert loop through. …

Step 5: Tighten it up a little. …

Step 6: Wrap it over the eyebolt. …

Step 7: Over until it knots with the rope. …

Step 8: Neatly pull to tighten.

Here’s a video to show you how it’s done:

Some difficulties you may face with your magnet fishing method

Snagging – unfortunately this happens and you face losing your magnet. There are 3 solutions

  1. try walking up and down to see if you can dislodge the item from whatever is snagging it
  2. attach a 2nd rope and use this to pull the magnet in a new direction. Not all magnets will have the eyelet space for a 2nd rope and you may have to buy a magnet with two rings on it. The 2nd rope should be attached before you throw in anticipation of the magnet snagging.
  3. cut the rope free, this is what your knife is for. If you only have the 1 rope you have to say goodbye to your magnet (you could always buy another and fish out your first)

The item is too heavy to retrieve – a good solution is to go magnet fishing with a friend or family member and have them attach their magnet too, 2 people with 2 magnets should be able to get the job done.

Nothing good comes back from a session – this is why we recommended earlier that you do some homework before hand and go to a site where you know there is some history. This is particularly true if you go to a location that is busy or has been know to be busy historically.

What people find when they magnet fish


Girl, 6, find 3000 bullets in Surrey canal



Blazing Magnets pull shotgun & hand grenade out of canal in Coventry, UK



Family in Salford, UK find bag full of guns and ammo


Why is magnet fishing becoming so popular?

You may as well wonder why people have hobbies at all. Some hobbies are merely something to do in order to pass the time while others such as following sports are a way of life. Magnet fishing is a fairly new hobby but totally deserved of becoming so popular.

It is addictive – You never know what you are going to find.

You can involve the whole family – Get the kids off the computer and out into the fresh air, teach them something new and share some quality time together.

It helps clean out junk – it’s good for the environment, if you dispose responsibility of the junk you find (and keep the good stuff yourself or sell it on) then you’re doing the environment a good deed.

You are doing a good deed – if you do recover some stolen goods or weapons then it can help solve a crime and get rid of potentially dangerous weapons.

Why not – it’s as good as metal detecting or any other discovery type hobby. It can historic value to it and help bring answers to parts of history at times too.

People also ask:

Can magnets pick up gold?

No gold is not magnetic. You are out luck I’m afraid when it comes to finding gold as magnet fishing will not pick it up.

Do you need a fishing license to magnet fish?

No, at this point in time there is no legal requirement to hold a fishing license to go magnet fishing.

What is the strongest magnet you can buy?

THE STRONGEST AVAILABLE on Amazon 600 LBS/270 KG Pull Force Real Highest N52 Grade Neodymium Magnet Pro 1.35×1.35×2.35 in.

Useful resources:

There are plenty of places on the internet to learn more about magnet fishing, there are YouTube channels and Facebook groups dedicated to the topic. If you would like your resource listed below then please get in touch and we’ll consider adding in you in.

For now here’s a list of useful places to find out more:

Magnet Fishing World on Facebook


There are a fair few places on Facebook to find magnet fishing communities but this one seems the most active with the most members so it seems like a good place to start.

YouTube – various

There are soooo many awesome videos on YouTube of people carrying out magnet fishing that it would be unfair for us to list them all so here’s the link for the search – enjoy!

Amazon – buy your gear here

The links below are affiliate links, we get a small commission if you buy the items through these links. If you have enjoyed this article then we’d really appreciate you buying your equipment through the links below – THANK YOU!

Don’t worry if the currency shown is not for your country, you will be redirected automatically.