Magnet fishing has rapidly grown from a niche hobby to a mainstream outdoor activity. More and more people are taking to lakes, rivers, and canals with strong magnets in hopes of discovering lost treasures from below. This beginner’s guide will cover everything you need to know to safely get started in magnet fishing. From essential equipment to rules and regulations to cleaning your epic finds, we will detail the basics so you can start unearthing history and mysteries from waterways near you. Whether an experienced angler or amateur archaeologist, magnet fishing offers adventure perfect for veterans and newcomers alike.

What is Magnet Fishing?

In its simplest form, magnet fishing involves using strong neodymium magnets attached to ropes to retrieve ferromagnetic objects from below the surface of waterways. By casting and dragging these rope-affixed magnets along canal beds, lake floors, and river bottoms, magnet fishers can salvage all sorts of lost treasures and artifacts.

From an operational standpoint, magnet fishing is quite straightforward. Strong magnets ranging from 50 lbs to over 600 lbs of pulling power are tied to nonmagnetic ropes or cables. The ropes allow the magnets to be safely swung, tossed, and retrieved from shorelines or bridges overpassing water. As the magnets connect to metal objects below, the objects cling to them and can be extracted back up in an often muddy, mysterious fashion.

How Magnet Fishing Works

Magnet fishing relies heavily on physics. Powerful neodymium magnets utilize strong magnetic fields that persist even while submerged underwater. As magnets are introduced to ferrous objects made with iron, steel, nickel, and cobalt, the objects become magnetized and are irresistibly pulled towards the magnet with considerable force. From guns, safes, and tools to bikes, scooters, and cameras, if there’s salvageable metal down below, good magnets will find them.

Essential Magnet Fishing Equipment

While veteran magnet fishers have elaborate gear, beginners need only a few basics:

  • A strong magnet: Brute magnets or magnet drop kits in the 200+ lb range are ideal.
  • Rope: 8–10mm nylon or mountain climbing rope, 15–30 feet long
  • Carabiner: Allows attaching or detaching magnets from rope
  • Gloves: Protect your hands when handling dirty objects.

Optional items like retrieval tools, floaters, and grappling hooks can come later as you progress.

Brief History

Magnet fishing originated in Europe in the early 2000s before growing popular in the UK and USA. While its origins are debated, its surge is connected to the availability of supersized neodymium magnets. As these incredibly powerful magnets became affordable to hobbyists, lifting heavy, lost objects from waterways transformed from an impossible to a recreational sport. And thanks to social sites letting magnet fishers share their most awesome and bizarre finds, the hobby keeps gaining momentum.

Getting Started in Magnet Fishing

Eager to start magnet fishing but not sure where to begin? Getting set up is, fortunately, fast, affordable, and fun. Follow this beginner’s guide to learn the essentials for safely exploring waterways in your area.

Starter Magnet and Rope

Quality neodymium magnets can cost over $100, but starter kits provide the basics without overspending:

  • Brute Magnetics Double-Sided Magnet Kit: Under $50 for 200 lbs of pull
  • Rope: 8mm nylon or climbing rope, 20–30 feet long
  • Carabiner: Attach or detach a magnet from a rope.

Review magnet strength ratings and opt for 200+ lbs of pulling force to reliably lift heavier objects as a beginner.

Understanding Laws and Regulations

Despite its thrill-seeking nature, magnet fishing largely follows common sense laws:

  • No trespassing or fishing in unauthorized waters.
  • Not tampering with or removing anything explosive, toxic, or historic
  • Following game fish protections and seasonal wildlife regulations
  • Securing permits, if required, in special jurisdictions

When in doubt, contact your local wildlife agency. Responsible magnet fishing helps preserve the hobby’s accessibility for all.

Choosing Magnet Fishing Locations

Beginners should start with:

  • Canals are typically publicly accessible and loaded with metal junk.
  • Slow rivers and streams; easy wading and casting practice
  • Public bridges: offer shoreline casting spots from urban bridges with street access.

Scope potential locations using satellite views and site visits first. Avoid fast currents, shipping lanes, and environmentally protected spots as a rookie.

Basic Safety Precautions

  • Always magnet fish with a partner or group.
  • Tell others where you’ll be magnet fishing.
  • Stay away from obvious hazards like floods, rapids, dams, and steep banks.
  • Wear gloves when handling objects, preparing for sharp debris.
  • Pack first-aid supplies and keep your cellphone accessible if accidents occur.

Take things slow until you get the hang of swinging, tossing, and retrieving heavy objects. Safety remains paramount, so you can magnet fish another day.

What You Can Find Magnet Fishing

From discarded metal trash to historic hidden treasures, what will your magnet discover below the surface? The unique joy of magnet fishing comes from never knowing what your magnet will latch onto next.

Common Finds

Day-to-day magnet fishing turns up all sorts of modern metallic odds and ends:

  • Bicycles: whole bikes and parts like wheels, chains, and pedals
  • Tools: wrenches, hammers, sockets, and other lost toolbox items
  • Screws, nails, bolts, and construction debris
  • Smartphones, cameras, and electronics
  • Coins and jewelry lost off bridges and docks

Unexpected Finds

In addition to everyday items, magnet fishers occasionally haul up special, one-of-a-kind discoveries:

  • Historical artifacts: centuries-old coins, weapons, tools, and decor
  • Weapons: guns, swords, knives, and grenades
  • Safes and lockboxes—both open and mysteriously sealed
  • Prosthetics: Yes, even artificial legs and teeth!

When it comes to magnet fishing, you honestly never know what your next epic haul will be.

Most Interesting Finds

While finds are unpredictable, recorded oddities involve hauling up bowling balls, sex toys, a living WWII hand grenade, a moonshine whisky still, 5 lbs of marijuana bundled in a cooler, and even an ATM full of soggy cash!

For magnet fishing newcomers, focus less on scoring valuables and more on enjoying new adventures, making friends, cleaning up parks, and discovering pieces of the past before they’re lost forever below the water.

Cleaning and Preserving Discoveries

One of the most fulfilling parts of magnet fishing comes after the catch: cataloging and cleaning your discovered treasures at home. How you handle them depends on the type of objects hauled up.

Everyday Finds

For common contemporary items like tools, bikes, and cameras, use soap and water for cleaning. Assess if they are still usable or valuable for selling or donating, rather than trashing recyclables.

Historic Finds

For objects seemingly aged like coins, weapons, and signs, gently scrub with soft brushes and non-abrasive toothpaste. Never brush fireable gun components. Photograph from multiple angles before attempting restoration.

Safe Storage

Allow finds to fully air dry before covering or containing. Store firearms and explosives separately away from magnetic sources until proper disposal. For artifacts believed to be very old or valuable, contact museum authorities regarding possible archiving or protective methods before exhibiting them publicly. Always practice responsible collecting!

Pro-tip: Maintain a journal cataloging magnet fishing locations and the best treasures. It makes every adventure, even the catchless ones, more memorable.

Getting Involved in the Magnet Fishing Community

Beyond just wielding magnets yourself, connecting with fellow magnet fishing enthusiasts maximizes the hobby’s enjoyment. Luckily, many outlets exist for befriending those who share this passion for discovering what lies below.

Online Forums

From Facebook groups to niche websites, online communities let you gain knowledge, ask questions, read entertaining stories, and even identify local magnet partners. Top sites include:

  • Reddit r/MagnetFishing
  • Facebook magnet fishing groups
  • Forum

Local Meetups

Arranging group outings with nearby magnet heads is always more fun than fishing solo. Apps like Meetup can locate regional magnet fishing events. Introduce yourself, share equipment knowledge, and swap can’t-believe-I-caught-that tales in person.

Sharing Finds

Upload your most awesome (and oddest) hauls on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok using #MagnetFishing. Follow other hunters in your area and nationwide to discover what incredible sunken treasures get revealed across the waters. Soon you’ll be the one dazzling feeds with that legendary once-in-a-lifetime find.

Is Magnet Fishing Right for You?

If you enjoy outdoor exploration and treasure hunting and don’t mind getting a bit muddy, magnet fishing offers adventure for all ages. With such affordable start-up costs, anyone can easily try it out. Yet recognize that the activity requires proper locations, physical capability for casting or retrieving, and responsibility for preserving any artifacts or munitions discovered. Ensure you research and follow all legal guidelines in your region. While magnet fishing does have risks, its rewards create thrills unmatched by most hobbies. Ultimately, if fishing below the surface for history and mysteries sounds exciting, grab a magnet and rope to see for yourself!

With strong magnets, sturdy ropes, and a passion for the unpredictable, magnet fishing offers outdoor adventurers endless opportunities to make fascinating discoveries below the water’s surface. By following this beginner’s guide, researching your locations, and connecting with the magnet fishing community, you’ll be prepared to safely reel in history, valuables, and tales to tell in no time. Just remember to have fun first, and the finds will follow.

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