What Is Magnet Fishing?

Hey there my fellow fishing enthusiasts and welcome to my post covering a ‘fishing’ subject a little left of centre as we ask what is magnet fishing. Now I freely admit here that when I first heard about magnet fishing I did ask how a person could catch a fish with a magnet?

I now know of course that this is actually quite a popular pastime that really only shares the fact that you have to throw an object into the water that is attached to a line with normal fishing. There are no rods, reels or even fishing line as such rather a rope with a magnet attached to the end. So what is magnet fishing all about? Let’s check it all out below…

What is magnet fishing?

You have all seen those treasure hunters in the beach with their metal detectors, well think of magnet fishing as the same thing except you are looking in the water with a big magnet.

Hence, magnet fishing is an activity where people search bodies of water to find metal items such as scrap metal, old coins and jewellery with magnets and other forms of non-powered recovery aids such as rope, a magnet and in some cases, grappling hooks as well. It can also be a lot safer in areas where wandering into the water with an underwater metal detector is not really an option too.

The locations for the most sought-after finds are areas where objects may have been dumped illegally, such as abandoned mines and construction sites, but rivers and lakes are another good source. It is also extremely popular in areas of historical significance where valuable artifacts have been pulled from the depths.

You can also use a metal detector to locate underwater targets if you like first, but it is important to note that all metal detectors are different and some may not work in water. For example, VLF (very low frequency) detectors work best on dry land, whereas pulse induction (PI) and motion detectors can be used underwater.

What is magnet fishing - scrap metal on magnet


As with anything to do with water, there are laws and regulations that cover the act of magnet fishing. These are heavily dependent upon the area that the body of water you intend to ‘fish’ in is located and will vary from country to country.

I was not able to find clear laws in my research however most regulations appear to mirror the following examples:

  • United Kingdom – It is illegal to magnet fish in waters managed by the Canal & River Trust.
  • Germany – A permit must be obtained to magnet fish.
  • United States – No clear restrictions except in South Carolina although check local authority guidelines.
  • Australia – Legal except in some government owned waters such as some dams and closed military areas etc.

Many local authorities have banned magnet fishers from entering the water as well as we will discuss next…


Believe it or not, magnet fishing can actually be quite a hazardous pastime for those who are not careful. Most commonly, accidents and injuries arise from the fact that metal tends to rust when underwater as well as contain sharp edges or marine growth such as shells etc.

There have also been instances of magnet fishers dredging up unexploded military items, guns and other dangerous objects as well. And as mentioned above, of course there is the risk of drowning from over balance as an item is pulled to the surface or even diving in to pull an item up that can’t be retrieved with a rope.

There are several things you can do to ensure your magnet fishing activity goes smoothly:

  • Always go out with another person, preferably one who knows about these kinds of activities so they can help rescue you should anything happen.
  • Always check for overhead obstructions.
  • Make sure there are no heavy currents in the area before entering.
  • Be prepared for any submerged obstacles and be on the lookout for sharp objects such as broken glass and nails.
  • Never do this activity at nighttime.
  • Never enter water that is higher than your shoulders or waist.
  • Make sure you always wear an approved personal flotation device (PFD) when entering the water. If you are magnet fishing from a boat, make sure there is someone on board with a lifejacket as well.

How does magnet fishing work?

As above, there are two main methods used for magnet fishing. The first is a simple process in that a rare-earth magnet is attached to a rope and dragged along the floor of the waterway. The strong magnetic force of the magnet then creates an energy field which draws ferromagnetic metals towards it.

Usually, this method is used to retrieve smaller metallic objects such as iron bars, steel pipes and collectibles etc. from river bed silt or sand. It is also much more efficient in searching for metal objects than divers, who can only spend a few minutes at a time at the bottom of the river, whereas magnet fishing allows you to search for hours with no limitations.

In some cases a second variation of magnet fishing is undertaken where a waterproof metal detector is used from a boat or jetty to locate metal objects before the magnet is dropped down for greater efficiency.

What do you need?

So, as it turns out, there are specialised kits for those looking to get themselves into the fine art of magnet fishing. I mean you could tie an industrial magnet to a rope and see how you go I guess but it does appear that specialty options will work best for you.

What is magnet fishing - magnet fishing gear

In short, you will need:

  • Magnet: Usually a high-powered Neodymium magnet with a handle to tie your rope to.
  • Rope: Water proof nylon rope .
  • Gloves: As per our safety issues above, a good pair of strong gloves are a must.
  • Grapple hook: This is an optional extra that is good for dragging along the bottom to loosen any items that the magnet alone cannot dislodge.
  • Metal detector: As above, these can assist in locating metal objects giving you a better chance of dropping your magnet in the right spot.

Again, tie the rope to the magnet and you are good to go!


What is the point of magnet fishing?

Much like using a metal detector on land, magnet fishing is a great way to locate and retrieve metal object that are hidden under the water. It can also be useful if you have dropped something of value down there yourself as well.


As there is it, hopefully a clear explanation of the processes behind magnet fishing and as always, please let me know of your experiences below.

Also, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, concerns, corrections or would like me to check anything else out for you.

Until next time

Have fun


What Is Magnet Fishing

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Hi, I'm Paul

I am a passionate fishing, camping and four wheeled driving hobbyist who researches, tests and educates around issues and equipment relevant to them.

I am by no means a professional however my passion is to assist you in making informed decisions about buying and using awesome gear that will give you the best chance of success at whatever you are doing for the best price.

Please get in touch if you have any questions.