Magnet fishing, also known as magnetic fishing, is the act of searching in outdoor waters for magnetic objects which are available to pull with a strong neodymium magnet.
This hobby, which is a combination of environmentalism and treasure hunting, has grown rapidly over the past few years and requires almost no technical knowledge to get started. It has been adopted by celebrities such as James Haskell, the English rugby player.
Over the years many metal items have been disposed of or dropped into many different bodies of water like rivers, lakes or streams. These metal items include historic relics, modern-day gadgets, and many more interesting metal items.
The only equipment needed for magnet fishing is a powerful magnet with a loop or eye attached to it, strong rope, a pair of gloves and a something in which to put any metallic objects you may find.
The magnets used are strong enough to remove large debris such as discarded bicycles and car tire rims from bodies of water, but many who engage in the hobby are hoping to find rare and valuable items including historic relics and modern-day gadgets.
Magnet retrieval tools are specially designed to retrieve items that are lost at the bottom of bodies of water, with rivers, lakes and streams being typical places to magnet fish.
Canals are also a popular place to magnet fish, due to the huge number of items casually discarded in them over the past few centuries.
Developed independently in 1982 by General Motors and Sumitomo Special Metals, neodymium magnets are the strongest type of permanent magnet commercially available. They have replaced other types of magnets in many applications in modern products that require strong permanent magnets, such as motors in cordless tools, hard disk drives and magnetic fasteners.
Neodymium magnets are graded according to their maximum energy product. Higher values indicate stronger magnets and range from N35 up to N52. Letters following the grade indicate maximum operating temperatures, which range from M (up to 100 °C) to EH (200 °C).
If you want to catch something else than just beer caps and nails, some places is better for magnet fishing than others:
It has to be a place where a lot of people comes by, many people, many dropped things, many magnet fishing finds.
Is has to be easily accessible preferably with a road near by so people with bad intentions easily can drive close by with something big and drop it in the water for us to find it.
There has to be +3 feet / 1 meter deep, otherwise, people would be able the grab the things themselves.
If the water is really clear I would say at least +6 feet / 2 meters deep.
If there is a small bridge out into the water, this is a good thing.
If it is a place with lots of current, people might not be able to find the things they drop because it goes away with the current.
Every time you make a knot on the rope, you weaken it, and if you pull so hard the rope breaks, it is typically where the knot is placed. The knot which is weakening the rope the least is the figure eight follow through (Read our article: "The Best Knots For Magnet Fishing"), which in pull-tests only weakened the rope with 75 - 80 %.
The figure eight follow through is one of the strongest knots. It forms a secure, non-slip loop at the end of a rope. Also known as the Flemish Bend, this is the most widely used tie-in knot by mountain climbers.
The more you pull in the rope when you have something heavy on your magnet, the tighter the magnet gets.
One of the primary dangers that magnet fishing poses is the type of magnet used. Magnets made from neodymium are amongst the strongest magnets in the world and the force at which they attract to both steel and each other can cause serious injury if necessary safety precautions are not followed. Fingers and other body parts can get severely pinched between two attracting magnets, small magnets can slam together and shatter and any magnets larger than a penny can pose an extreme danger as these magnets are sintered. This means that they are not a solid mass of metal or ceramic, but are rather compressed powder, hence splintering or shattering very easily, causing chunks of metal to take flight.
Steep river or canal banks and strong currents also poses the risk of drowning, whilst the items found whilst magnet fishing can also be a potential risk.
In most cases is there absolutely no problem and you can just start magnet fishing.
Be aware that all rivers and canals have owners, and those naturally own what is on the river bed.
We recommend to just ask the owner of the ground area which may be the country you are living in, the government, your environment agency, a company or a private person.
If you find any weapons or similar items it is highly recommended to contact the Police.
Magnet fishers amateur in some countries helped the police by recovering new evidence, specifically firearms and ammunition, related to the crimes.