Magnet Fishing Guide

What is Magnet Fishing?

Magnet fishing is the search and retrieval of magnetically-attracted objects from a body of water. For some, magnet fishing is an outdoor hobby, and for others magnet fishing is a practical way to recover lost items. Magnet fishing is also a fun way to help clean up waterways.

People all over the world are magnet fishing in oceans, lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams. People have had success fishing from the docks, piers, bridges, boats, and even the shoreline. Some cities and countries have laws regulating activities (including magnet fishing) in their waterways. Always follow your local laws when magnet fishing to avoid fines or imprisonment.

What you find will likely depend where you are in the world and how long the area/water has been used by people. Like its mostly land-based cousin (metal detecting), magnet fishing turns up a lot of unrecognizable metal destined for the scrap pile. Other common finds include tools, boat parts, and weapons (guns and ammo, knives and swords, etc). Jewelry and coins are not commonly found because they are not usually created from iron, zinc, or other magnetically-attracted alloys.

Magnet fishing is a relatively low risk hobby, but it is important to know the risks and take measures to avoid injury and damage. This guide includes some safety recommendations but these should not be considered comprehensive. Always follow manufacturer safety guidelines and posted warnings wherever you go fishing.

Equipment and Protective Gear

The magnet and rope are essential pieces of equipment. There are numerous kits that include everything you need to get started, but you should consider where and how you plan to magnet fish before you purchase anything.



The magnets used for magnet fishing are not toys. Improper use could result in permanent injury. Always follow the safety guidelines provided by the magnet manufacturer.

Single-Sided Magnets

Single-sided magnets have an eyelet extending from the center of the magnet.

Single-sided magnets are ideal for fishing from docks, piers, and boats. This configuration is best for bobbing around the bottom. These magnets are more likely to encounter snags on rocks or other underwater structure if dragged from the shore.

Some people create or buy a cone to cover the eyelet and to reduce the risk of snags.

Dual-Sided Magnets

Dual-sided magnets have an eyelet extending from the edge of the disc. Their pulling power is typically advertised as “combined,” which means that each side has one-half the total power.

Dual-sided magnets are ideal for fishing from the shore. The surface area of the magnet in the direction of travel is less than the single-sided configuration. Dual-sided magnets’ rounded edges help to roll over or around obstacles.

Most dual-sided magnets also have eyelet mounting configurations to improvise a single-sided magnet setup.

Other Magnets

There are other shapes and configurations that may suit your magnet fishing plans better than single- and dual-sided magnets. The third most common magnet is a cone-shaped magnet.

Magnet Maintenance

You should always inspect your magnet fishing equipment before use. Check the eyelet to ensure a tight fit. If it is loose, apply threadlocker.

Clean and dry your magnet after use to prolong its life. Store away from children and pets to avoid accidental injury or equiment damage.


Strong, reliable rope will ensure that you can retrieve anything your magnet finds. Purchase your rope after you choose your magnet, unless you purchase a pre-assembled kit. The rope must have tensile (pulling) strength greater than your magnet's pulling power. Also consider the inner diameter (hole size) of the eyelet on your magnet. Choose your rope to balance strength and handling. Too small and you risk losing your magnet. Too large and it becomes difficult to handle.

There are a few other qualities to look for in a rope:

  1. Rot resistance
  2. Structure (woven vs. braided)
  3. Weight

Remember to allow your rope to completely dry before storing to prolong the life of your equipment.

Protective Gear

Gloves are an essential piece of protective gear to take magnet fishing. Gloves serve two purposes:

  1. Protection from your rope
  2. Protection from recovered objects

Gloves should be waterproof and tough enough to resist puncture and tearing for when you retrieve sharp items.

A life jacket is highly recommended for anyone near the water – especially children. Accidents happen and you do not want to ruin your day at the water. It is a good idea to have a spare change of weather-appropriate clothes should you fall in or get wet recovering your magnet. Many people wear swimming suits depending on the season and whether swimming is allowed at their fishing location.

Sun screen and insect repellant are commonly overlooked, but you will regret forgetting either one!

Ideal Locations

While magnet fishing may sometimes return naturally occuring objects, most people search for manmade objects. Choose a location where people play or work near water to find lost items. Remember to consider your equipment's strengths and weaknesses (are you fishing from the bank, dock, or boat?) when you scout a new location.

Before heading out to a new location, check local laws and weather.


The best technique primarily depends on two factors:

  1. Type of Magnet
  2. Location

Before you start, inspect your magnet and rope for secure fit - you do not want to lose your magnet! It is also a good idea to secure the end of your rope to a permanent structure or something very heavy.


Throw as far as possible while avoiding people, animals, and obstacles. Pull the magnet back towards the shoreline being careful to avoid underwater obstacles. This method is best suited for double sided magnets, because single-sided magnets are more likely to snag on underwater obstacles when dragged along the bottom.

Casting works from nearly every location. Elevated locations like piers may require longer rope to compensate for additional height.

Drop, Hover, Drop

Drop magnet from elevated location like pier, dock, or boat directly into the water. Hover the magnet just off the bottom until you find something. Pull back to retrieve the object.

This method works best with the magnetic field of your magnet points down when hanging from the rope. Singled-sided magnets are the first choice for this technique.

Recover a Stuck Magnet

There are a few options to get a stuck magnet free again. Before attempting any of these, examine your surroundings and take all recommended safety precautions to avoid injury.

If the magnet was casted, try moving left or right of your current location and then pull again. It may be stuck on a rock and can be pulled around the rock instead of over.

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