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Questions and answers about magnet fishing

Table of Contents

What is magnet or magnetic fishing?

Magnet fishing, similar to Geocaching, has become a veritable sport. The objective is to retrieve metal objects from well shafts, rivers, lakes etc with the help of fishing magnets. Using our magnets, customers have managed to salvage age-old cannonballs, but also rusty bicycles, nails and much more.
And that is exactly what makes magnet fishing so alluring: You never know what will come to the surface, attached to your magnet.
But it is not quite as easy as it sounds. You can’t just buy any type of magnet, toss it into the nearest water and hope to pull up a huge treasure.
There are several things to consider. Below, we have put together the most important information on the subject of magnet fishing and also address possible dangers so that your next excursion with your magnetic fishing rod guarantees maximum success and the highest level of safety.

Which magnets do I use for magnet fishing?

When searching for the right magnet for magnet fishing, you come across different names. The most common terms are fishing and retrieving magnet. But you will also find names such as treasure hunt magnet, fish magnet, search magnet, dipping magnet, diving magnet or dredging magnet. There is a simple explanation for all these different names: Each magnet fisherman or woman calls his or her fishing magnet the way they see fit. So it is difficult to tell the difference based on the name itself. But there are still some features to look out for when buying the right magnet for magnet fishing:

Treasure hunter
Treasure hunter
Similar to a deep pot magnet, this type of fishing magnet has an elongated pot around the magnet. You can often buy these magnets as a set, complete with rope and eyelet. They have a sufficiently high adhesive force to start magnetic fishing and are rather affordable.
Thanks to the long pot surround, the magnet can be easily pulled along the river- or lakebed without tilting upwards and redirecting the magnetic force away from the bottom. In addition, the rounded edges minimise the possibility of the magnet getting caught on other items.
For beginners, we recommend our treasure hunter magnets with an adhesive force of 30 kg or 45 kg, for example. The delivery will include everything you need to get started with magnet fishing.
Fishing magnet
Fishing magnet

For advanced magnet fishermen and women, we carry three strong retrieving magnets in our assortment. They have two contact surfaces, increasing the chance of a good catch.
Ring magnet
Ring magnet

Ring magnets are also suitable for magnet fishing. These have the advantage that they are magnetic all around and can therefore attract ferromagnetic finds from all sides. However, the raw magnet is exposed here, and you have to be particularly careful to avoid hard knocks. Otherwise, there is a danger that the magnet will chip or completely break.
This type of magnet is also often called a dredging magnet.
Pot magnet
Pot magnet

Pot magnets with an eyelet can also be used for magnet fishing. They have the advantage that they have a high magnetic force, allowing you to retrieve larger treasures. The downside is that the magnet tends to tip and point upward when it is dragged across the bottom of the lake or river. This will prevent its full strength from being directed downward.
Those who prefer a more customised approach can assemble their own fishing magnets. Our pot magnets are the perfect starting point. In our online shop, you will also find accessories such as eyebolts, carabiners or polypropylene ropes.

Fishing magnets with one contact surface:

Fishing magnets with 2 contact surfaces:

Magnetic all the way around:

How can I make my own retrieving magnet?

Pot magnet with countersunk hole, countersunk bolt and ring nut
Materials for a fishing magnet
You can build your own fishing magnet with very little effort. For example, you could use:

First, push the screw through the hole in the pot magnet. Now you only need to thread the ring nut onto the screw. It is recommended to use a thread-locking fluid such as Loctite, to prevent an accidental loosening of the screw during magnet fishing.

Those who find that the adhesive force of a single magnet is not powerful enough for magnet fishing can, with a little skill, build a “slightly” bigger retrieval magnet. In the customer project Magnet fishing in XL we gathered information on the necessary materials and how to proceed. And if you feel this is a little too ambitious, you can instead find instructions for making a magnetic fishing rod with our strongest ring magnet R-60-06-30-N.

What is the best way of attaching a rope to the fishing magnet?

There are many good knots for tying a rope to the fishing magnet. The important thing is, that the knot holds firm. After all, it would be a pity, if your magnet takes a dive into the water without the rope.
One option is the Palomar knot, which is shown in the pictures below. This knot is especially popular with anglers because it has a high knot strength. In the following pictures, we will show you how to attach the rope to your fishing magnet using this method. Those who would like to watch a video on the topic will find it in this video tutorial.
Step 1
Step 1
Step 2
Step 2
Step 3
Step 3
Step 4
Step 4

What are the important things to remember about the rope?

One factor to keep in mind when buying a rope for magnet fishing is its length. If the rope is too short, you may not reach the bottom of deeper lakes or rivers. To prevent a rope that is too short from simply disappearing into the watery depths and taking your magnet with it, we recommend you attach a carabiner to the end of the rope and hooking it to a bridge railing or nearby tree, for example. We caution against attaching the rope to your belt loop or around your waist because there is a risk that you could be dragged under if the magnet becomes entangled.
You should also check the rope regularly for tears and other damages. These could be caused, for example, when the rope is dragged over a sharp edge. Dirt can also shorten the lifespan of a rope. If necessary, clean your rope with clear water and without the addition of harsh cleaning products. Just let it air-dry, without direct sunlight or any other heat source as they can turn the rope brittle. Make sure the rope is completely dry before storing it.
By following these guidelines, you can prevent losing your beloved magnet during magnet fishing because of a broken rope.

What equipment is needed for magnet fishing?

In addition to a magnet and a rope, we recommend adding the following items to your basic equipment for magnet fishing:
  • Safety gloves that are cut-resistant and water-proof
  • Appropriate storage option for your fishing magnet
  • Container for found objects, such as our dump pouch
  • Cloth for drying the magnet and wiping the rope
  • A second cloth for cleaning and drying your hands as well as found objects
Additional useful tools for magnet fishing are:
  • Wellingtons
  • Life jacket
  • Loctite, to secure screws or nuts on the magnet
  • Grappling hook for easier retrieval of found objects
  • Sun and insect protection

Where is magnet fishing allowed?

In most European countries, it is not conclusively clarified whether magnet fishing is permitted or prohibited. Furthermore, within Germany, the state laws of the respective states have to be considered. Each federal state determines for itself whether magnet fishing is allowed, and which regulations apply. So, before you set out with your magnetic fishing rod, always make sure to first learn about the legal situation in your region. If in doubt, check with the local police or monument protection authorities.
Also, keep in mind that magnet fishing is not permitted in all waters. For example, for a privately owned body of water, you will need permission from the owner. In addition, you will have to comply with all measures for the preservation of nature and historical sites.
Please be advised, that this information page does not serve as legal advice and that we do not assume any liability that the information contained herein is correct and current as it has not been evaluated by an expert lawyer. You are responsible for your own actions and to obtain all necessary permits and information.

What adhesive force should a fishing magnet have?

Please keep in mind: The adhesive force noted for the magnets is the maximum force under ideal conditions. You will need a very strong magnet, if the item to be retrieved is lacquered or painted, has a rough or uneven surface or is not made from pure iron (see specific FAQ about adhesive force). In addition, there is also the water pressure. It is much higher than air pressure and has to be overcome during the retrieval. If in doubt, choose magnets with an adhesive force of at least 30 kg for magnet fishing.
There are fishing magnets with an adhesive force of more than 1 000 kg available on the market today. But please, don’t make the mistake of thinking that you will retrieve huge and valuable treasures with that type of magnet. If such a powerful magnet attaches to a ferromagnetic object in the water with its full contact surface, you may not be able to pull the item from the water. And, you could have trouble removing the magnet from the object afterwards. Also consider the serious injuries that can result, for example, from being crushed by extremely strong magnets. For those reasons, we recommend you use a magnet with no more than 200 kg adhesive force. Those are sufficiently strong to pull finds of remarkable size out of the water.

How do you safely transport and store a fishing magnet?

Magnets used for magnet fishing must be stored safely. With such a strong adhesive force, it is not uncommon for these magnets to inadvertently attach to a ferromagnetic surface while being transported in a car or when improperly stored.
In addition, magnetic strips on credit cards and EC cards can be quickly demagnetised by magnets of this size, rendering the cards useless. Always make sure you keep your wallet away from these magnets when you are magnet fishing. People wearing pacemakers and/or hearing aids also need to be particularly careful. You can find more detailed information in our FAQ about safe distances.
That is why these magnets need to be properly shielded when not in use. Plastic cases filled with cubed foam, for example, work well for this purpose.
Also, make sure the magnet is dry and clean before storing it safely. Otherwise, there is a risk that it will begin to rust or even lose its magnetisation over time.
Retrieving magnets used for magnet fishing do not belong in the hands of children. Always store your fishing magnet in such a way that it is out of the reach of children.

Does a fishing magnet rust?

If you repeatedly expose a neodymium magnet to water and without protection, it will eventually start to rust. You should therefore thoroughly dry the magnet after each use. You can also treat the magnet with a waterproof lacquer to provide some protection.
Another option: Our strongest ferrite ring magnet FE-R-100-60-20 is rust-resistant – but don’t expect any miracles with an adhesive force of 16 kg.

How do I protect myself and others from injuries while magnet fishing?

Initially, magnet fishing doesn’t sound all that dangerous. But dangers lurk even with this supposedly harmless hobby. The adhesive force of these magnets is very strong and should not be underestimated. That is why we would like to highlight possible dangers and give you tips on how to avoid such situations.

Casting the magnet:
The first possibility for accidents comes with the initial casting of the magnet. You could hit yourself or others with the magnet. Always make sure there are no people or animals in the water that could be hit with the magnet. If you are casting the magnet into the water from a bridge, check first to see that there are no boats, swimmers or other watersports enthusiasts passing underneath.
Don’t cast your magnet in areas where animals could be beneath the surface. Especially during the spawning season, fish often stay on the bottom to spawn and could be injured by the magnet. Also, don’t destroy spawning areas by dragging your magnet across the river or lakebed.

Rope – a tripping hazard:
The longer the rope, the greater the risk that you or a passing pedestrian will trip over the rope or that cyclists and skaters will take a fall if they drive over it. When magnet fishing, always make sure that you either keep the part of the rope that is not in the water coiled in your hand or place it in such a way that no one can trip over it.

Cuts and bruises:
The stronger the adhesive force of a magnet, the greater the risk of injury. Therefore, always wear safety gloves when magnet fishing. Ideally, you should choose gloves that are cut-resistant, waterproof and washable. On the one hand, there is the risk of getting caught between the magnet and the found object, which can lead to severe bruising and even broken bones.
On the other hand, you will most likely repeatedly pull sharp or pointy objects such as rusty nails or sharp-edged metal from the water. By using safety gloves, you can avoid cuts which can quickly become infected and could even lead to blood poisoning due to the putrid mud that often sticks to found objects. Over time, the magnet itself can also develop jagged edges. For example, after a hard knock or impact which could cause it to chip.

Chipping or breaking of the magnet:
As previously described, magnets can chip or break. Collisions between strong magnets and rough metal objects will inevitably lead to damage of the magnet coating, to a point where it could even chip off. Magnets can also break during heavy collisions because they are very brittle. Unfortunately, in combination with the corrosion issues, you can expect having to replace the fishing magnets every now and then.

Magnet detaching from the catch:
If your treasure is too heavy for the magnet, it can detach during the recovery. If this happens suddenly, you may lose your balance and fall backwards. Depending on what’s behind you, there is a risk that you could hurt yourself in the fall or plunge into the water.

Dangerous finds:
Be extremely careful in areas where there may be unexploded shells or other munition! Should you come across explosive objects or weapons while magnet fishing, do not touch them and contact the police immediately.
The best thing to do is to very carefully tie the rope in a suitable place so that the object does not explode or disappears again into the water. Then move away far enough from the spot where it was found (but not too far so that you can warn other people who may pass by) and wait for the police to arrive.
These finds are so dangerous also because they have accumulated rust and dirt from being submerged in the water for a long time, making it impossible for the untrained person to immediately identify them as explosive ordnances.
The police must also be notified if you find items that are obviously stolen. These could be safes or bicycles, for example. The best thing to do here is not to dial the emergency number but to contact the nearest police station, provided that the object is not dangerous.

What can I do if the magnet is stuck?

There are several reasons why your magnet could get stuck during magnet fishing and may be difficult or even impossible to dislodge. Here’s how you can try to save your fishing magnet:

The magnet has lodged itself like an anchor under rocks or roots:
The best way to free the magnet is to change your position. Try to use a different angle to pull the rope, for example, by going to the other side of the water if the distance to the other shore allows.

The magnet has attached itself to an object that is too heavy to retrieve:
It is best not to go magnet fishing alone. That way, should you hook an object too heavy to lift by yourself, you will always have someone there to help you. Ideally, your companion(s) should have their own fishing magnets with them.
Hint: Rising air bubbles are a sign that the magnet or the object is detaching from the bottom.

The magnet is stuck on a bridge pier or railing:
In this case, you can use the displacement force to your advantage. If circumstances allow, try to pull the magnet sideways away from the railing or pillar. It will give you a better chance of detaching your magnet since the displacement force of a magnet is only about 15% of the tensile force.
If the water is shallow enough, temperatures allow, and you have a change of clothes with you if need be, you could also try to retrieve your magnet by hand. Utilise tools; for example, use a wedge as a lever to try and detach the magnet.
If your magnet is beyond rescue, then try at least to save the rope. It’s easiest if you attach the rope to a carabiner before you set out on your magnet fishing adventure and then hook it to the magnet. But, here too, the magnet must be within reach; otherwise, the only thing you can do is cut the rope.

What do I do with the items I pull out of the water?

Depending on where you go magnet fishing, you will quickly come across smaller or larger finds. But what do you do with the rusted nails and screws, the bottle caps, the bicycle rim or the rusty iron rod? You can not simply leave these items behind on the shore or throw them back into the water. You must take everything you find, and which is of no value, with you and dispose of it properly or risk a fine because environmental pollution is a punishable offence.
And if you really do find a treasure, you are usually not entitled to keep it - follow the legal regulations!
In Germany, for example, the applicable law governing found property is regulated in § 965 to § 984 of the German Civil Code (BGB).
Also repeatedly mentioned in connection with magnet fishing are the terms ‘treasure trove’ and the ‘constitution of Hadrian’, which provide the legal framework for ownership of lost property. In Germany, treasure trove applies in most federal states. Since we are not lawyers, we ask that you seek expert advice if in doubt.