What is Magnet Fishing and is it Legal?

A new type of “fishing” has started gaining popularity over the past few years and has quickly become a very growing sport in the US and other countries, and that is MAGNET fishing.

One of the first things someone asks when learning about magnet fishing is if it is legal or if they will get into trouble for doing it. This is extremely important because if you normally fish without a license, it can carry some hefty fines.

In all the research that I have done, there are no laws that I could find that says magnet fishing is illegal to do except in South Carolina, where it is outright illegal. The one thing that is very important is that if you try to fish, or magnet fish, on private property, you still must gain permission from the owner, or you could be violating trespassing laws.

Always check your local fish and game website to make sure that they have not added any new laws that might prevent you from magnet fishing, or requires you to get a special license or permit.

What Is Magnet Fishing?

Magnet fishing involves tying a high powered magnet (not the kind that goes on your refrigerator) to a fishing line or rope and tossing it out into the water to find anything magnetic. As you pull or reel your line back in, the magnet is scraped across the bottom of the body of water and picks up anything magnetic that it comes across.

When you bring the magnet back to you, everything that was found can then be removed from the magnet and you toss it out again in a different spot.

This mirrors fishing in the sense that you can have a rod with the line, and on the end of that line instead of a hook, you have a magnet, and when you “catch” something, you reel it in and land your prize. This hobby is starting to become very popular, so I would expect to see more defined regulations on it sooner rather than later, and with more structured guidelines than what we are used to seeing.

You can really catch a bunch of cool stuff, and I have even seen people that catch things like guns, knives and even safes! The most I have caught are old sunglasses and a ton of fishing lures, but it is a lot of fun.

What are Fishing Magnets?

Fishing magnets are just high strength magnets that are designed to lift 750 pounds or more magnetic material. These magnets have the ability to lift bicycles, and even smaller safes from the water without dropping them, so they are not your typical refrigerator magnets.

man wearing jacket fishing off the lake

They are normally inset into a housing that has a loop on the end for you to tie a rope or high strength fishing line to as well. Once the magnet is dropped in the water, it is pulled across the bottom until you feel it attract something, and at that point, you can slowly start to pull the item up out of the water. A great example of a nice fishing magnet setup can be found HERE.

How Strong of a Magnet Do I Need?

You will want to get a rare earth magnet to start, and the lightest you will want to get is a magnet with a pulling force of at least 500lbs (226kg). The next step up would be a rare earth magnet with a pulling for of 700 pounds, which is still a very strong magnet. If you really want to get into magnet fishing, then go with an 800lbs (362kg).

As seen below, there are even stronger magnets out on the market. Stronger is not necessarily always better. Strong magnets can get stuck on heavy objects resulting in a lost magnet due to a broken rope. You may even have to cut the rope due to the magnet getting stuck.

Try out a few different options to see what works best for you and where you are fishing.

Other Magnet Options to Use

Your local hardware store may have high strength magnets, but there are plenty of options on Amazon. Browse the three magnet options below!

MHDMAG Double Sided Magnet

This magnet is a good choice for magnet fishing due to it being two-sided. It is also has a slim vertical design, which can help it more freely in tight spaces on the bottom of whatever body of water you are fishing. This is one of the most powerful choices found on Amazon today. 

DIYMAG Super Strong NeoDymium 500lb Magnet

This 2.36in 500lb pulling force magnet is another good choice for magnet fishing. Unlike the magnet above, it has one magnetic surface at the bottom with a strong eye hook to attach a rope to the top of it.

While it may not fit into crevices as easily as the option above, the wider surface area of this magnet can be useful in picking up heavy objects that are laying flat on the bottom of where you are fishing.

AnglerMag Magnet Fishing Kit 

If you want to skip the process of buying all of the different items you need to have a full setup, consider buying a full kit off of Amazon. There are several different options of kits that include everything you need to start magnet fishing, such as the magnet, rope, gloves, etc. This particular kit comes with a 1,000 pull force magnet! 

Is Magnetic Fishing Dangerous?

While magnet fishing is normally not very dangerous, there are some things that could harm you if you are not careful. The first is finding something that is sharp and rusted because if you get cut, and you have not had a tetanus shot, you could get tetanus and will be spending some time in the hospital.

It is important to wear gloves and proper clothing in case you do find something rusted. Fishing hooks and lures can also be very sharp and you can get them stuck in your skin and could have to be cut out or pulled out by a doctor.

The last thing you will want to watch out for is dropping something heavy on yourself, or pulling a muscle trying to drag something very large into shore. These are high powered magnets and can pull hundreds or thousands of pounds.

Do You Need A Fishing License To Magnet Fish?

At this point, there is no local law that I could find that says you need to have any sort of license when magnet fishing. You must ask and get permission to fish in private areas, or you could be breaking trespassing laws which can carry a fine, and time in jail, so always ask before you throw a magnet out.

Laws change very quickly, so it is always a great idea to check with your local fish and game website to see if anything new has been added or changed.

Depending on where you want to magnet fish, the local park and services department may be a better resource to understand the applicable rules and regulations.

Sometimes there are regulations that prevent individuals to remove any historical items from bodies of water. These rules and regulations are common in areas where significant historical events have taken place, such as civil war battle sites. 

You can see all the fish and game websites by state HERE on our site.

Can You Make Money Magnet Fishing?

Yes! You can actually make money magnet fishing if you are lucky enough to find something rare like an antique firearm, or people have caught old bikes and even safes. Since gold, silver, and most money is not magnetic, you will probably not get rich by magnet fishing, and it is very rare in the US that you will find a firearm or safe, but it does happen.

grandfather and grandson fishing together

You could find things like phones, sunglasses, and other things that you can dry out and sell for a profit. We suggest that you go magnet fishing for the fun of it, and not to spend money on all the equipment if you think you are going to get rich. If you want a hobby that is more likely to make you some money, you should get a metal detector.

What Objects Can You Find by Magnet Fishing?

The million dollar question is “Well, what can I find if I go magnet fishing?”. The real answer is, anything that will stick to your magnet that you are able to pull up. That is the fun, you never know what you may find! Anything from boat anchors to a piece of military history. There is one recent story of two teens finding a practice artillery shell while magnet fishing in the Pittsburgh area. Some of the more common items that you can find while magnet fishing includes:

  • Plain old junk
  • Antiques
  • Guns
  • Knives
  • Sunglasses
  • Bicycles
  • Signs
  • Tools
  • Fishing equipment
  • Phones

While we all hope to find valuable items while magnet fishing, the truth is there are some valuable items that are not magnetic. More on that is discussed below.

Are Coins Magnetic?

The short answer to this question is, yes and no, but there is a lot more detail for this. In the United States, coins are not made from magnetic metal, so you will not be able to magnet fish for things like quarters, dimes, nickels, etc.

However, there are other places like Canada that do put magnetic metal in their coins and they can be brought up while magnet fishing, so if you are going out fishing for pocket change, you probably will not get anything that you can go out and buy stuff with.

Other coins from places like Brazil and Euro coins can also be picked up by magnets. You can buy a different type of magnet, called a rare earth magnet or neodymium magnet, that will, in fact, pick up change, but those are not your typical fishing magnets sold online, and you would have to go to a magic shop to find them. 

Is Gold Attracted To A Magnet?

True 24k gold is not magnetic at all, so for the general purpose of gold, then NO, it is not magnetic at all, but there some instances where that could not be the case. As you go to different caret of gold, like 14k, and 18k gold, it is mixed with other metals to make up the complete compound.

In most instances gold is mixed with silver to lessen the carets, so you will still not have a magnetic metal because silver is also not magnetic.

If you do find a piece of jewelry that is picked up by a magnet then that is most likely because it has been mixed with something else like iron.

If you do find jewelry that is magnetic, it would be a good idea to take it to a jeweler and ask them to test it for gold. There is also a trick that fake jewelers are using where they are adding copper and other non-magnetic materials to the gold so that it passes the magnetic test, so always be on the lookout for fakes.

Magnet Fishing Tips and Tricks

Magnet fishing can be a lot of fun, so we have compiled a list of tips for anyone who is wanting to start magnet fishing, or to just help you improve your magnet fishing game.

  • Pick The Right Spot: Find a place that has high foot traffic. Pick a place that has a lot of swimming, fishing, and boating, and is easily accessed by the public.
  • Always Wear Gloves: You will be bringing up metal, which can be rusty, and very sharp, so always get a thick pair of gloves.
  • Ask Permission: If you have never been to the spot you are fishing, make sure you ask for permission first.
  • Double Check Your Knot: Always double check your knot, or it could slip off. You will be bringing up large items, and you do not want your knot to come unraveled.
  • Use High Strength Line: Use very high strength rope, or use a very high strength fishing line or braided line if you are using a fishing rod.

Using these tips will make sure that you are safe from breaking the law and also getting cut by whatever you bring up, and will also be more likely to land something awesome if the area is popular.

Where is the Best Place to Magnet Fish?

While you can magnet fish on any body of water, there are a few places where you might find better luck than others. We have put a list together for you below, but one important thing you will want to remember is to try to magnet fish anywhere there are a lot of people walking, or possibly kayaking, boating, or swimming. Doing that will ensure that you find more treasures. Here is our list of favorite places:

  • Underneath Old Bridges
  • Along Piers in Harbors
  • Rivers Flowing Through Busy Cities
  • Near Historical Sites or landmarks
  • Old Wells
  • Industrial Facilities (especially abandoned)
  • Docks and Boat Launch Ramps

Best Magnet Fishing Techniques

There are a couple of different techniques you can use when you are magnet fishing depending on where you are and what you are searching for. The first is to get a heavy duty nylon rope with a magnet tied to the end of it.

You then throw the rope out making sure that you have the other end secured so it does not go out with it, and then you slowly pull the rope back in, and when you feel a hit, you can then start pulling the item to the surface.

The other technique is to use a heavy duty fishing rod, with some high strength line with a magnet tied to the other end. You can then cast out your line like a normal rod, and start reeling it in slowly. Once you feel the magnet bite onto something, you can then reel the rest of your line in to pull the item to the shore.

No matter what way you decide to magnet fish with, you have to be careful that you don’t lose the item from the magnet, and when you get it to the shoreline, that you carefully take the magnet off because it could be attached to a rusty artifact, and could cut you, or break the item.


Magnet fishing is a fun way to pass the time on the weekend. Next time you hit the local creek, river, or lake bring a magnet fishing setup! You never know what you may find! Even if you only find junk, you can take it home to properly dispose of it. The end result is having some fun and helping to clean up your local fishing hole.

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