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The Ultimate Guide To Magnet Fishing 2021

What is Magnet Fishing?

 Magnet Fishing is like metal detecting underwater; it’s the act of throwing a powerful magnet into a body of water to see what ferrous objects you can find. These magnets aren’t ordinary fridge magnets, they are Neodymium magnets – a rare earth metal that has the strongest magnetic properties of any element in the world. These are the same magnets used in MRI machines and the magnet attaches onto ferrous and metal finds within range. This is why they’re often to referred to as underwater metal detectors.

What equipment do I need to start magnet fishing?

Magnet fishing is a very cost-effective hobby to get into. To start magnet fishing, all you need is a 10-meter to 30-meter length rope that’s between 8mm and 12mm thickness (ideally, braid-on-braid for extra durability) and a fishing/recovery magnet.

Other accessories include protective gloves, a bucket to collect your finds, carabiner to secure your rope (to prevent losing your magnet in the water) and thread lock. Thread lock essentially glues your eyebolt into the magnet, preventing it from gradually unscrewing while under water. More competitive magnet fishers also use grappling hooks to get trickier items out of the water. 

Essentials

  • Neodymium Fishing Magnet (click here to view fishing magnet selection). 
  • 10m to 30m rope (8mm – 12mm thickness)
  • Protective Gloves
  • Thread lock
  • Bucket 

Good-to-have

  • Carabiner
  • Grappling hook 

How To Set Up Your Fishing Magnet

A good, solid knot is one of the most crucial things you need to get right when magnet fishing  or you risk losing your magnet. There are thousands of different knots to choose from but the majority of magnet fishers, and by majority, we mean 99% of magnet fishers, use the Palomar knot. It’s super easy, super quick and you can see how to do this in the video below.

If you don’t have your equipment just yet, feel free to bookmark this page and come back when you’re ready. 

Top 10 Magnet Fishing Tips 

1. Invest in a good magnet 

If you’re serious about finding submerged treasures you’ll need to invest in a good magnet. Neodymium is the most magnetic material on the planet and it’s an expensive element. If you’re paying little money for a magnet, it’s likely the Neodymium content of the magnet is minimal, reducing the pull force thus reducing the chances of you finding things.

Cheaper magnets are good for dipping your toe in the water when you’re just starting out but if you’re serious about finding treasures, we recommend you start with the strong magnet.

2. Your magnet ISN’T your most important tool

Yep, that’s right. Time and time again we hear stories of people buying an incredible magnet but buying a cheap rope. Sadly, this is a sure way to land yourself into trouble because many types of rope that aren’t suitable in wet environments and will quickly rot. This means when they get wet, they’ll begin to degrade over the time and what you thought was a 500KG pull rope would realistically snap with 20KG of force and you risk losing your magnet.

We recommend using Braid-on-braid polyester rope; they’re incredibly strong and rot proof. 

3. Location, location, location…

We’ve already written an article explaining the best places you should magnet fish and you can find it by clicking here

4. Keep it tidy!

Magnet Fishing is an eco-friendly hobby and it clears the waterways and you’re responsible for disposing of anything you pull from the canal. Always make sure you have a bucket with you to collect the smaller finds and have a scrap person’s number ready for those finds that you can’t take home. You can find your local scrap person at the Facebook page Dippers and Scrappers. 

5. Magnet Fishing Etiquette 

If you go to a location and see people already fishing (y’know, those who fish for actual fish), always ask if they’re okay with you magnet fishing there. As we all know, fish respond to the smallest vibrational activity in the water and throwing a magnet into the water could disrupt somebody else’s hobby.

6. To fish, or not to fish, that is the question…

Magnet fishing is legal, but magnet fishing on private property can get you into trouble for trespassing. Anything found in a canal by a landowner is owned by said landowner which means taking it can be considered theft. Always make sure you’re magnet fishing in the right places and if you have any doubts, call the Canal and River Trust or the local council for more information. 

7. What to do if you find a bomb or weapon

If you find anything that looks suspicious, you must not tamper with it and you need to ring the police immediately. Do not attempt to remove the item from the magnet and submerge it until the police arrive.

8. Magnet Fishing DOES involve skill 

Many people say magnet fishing is entirely based on luck and they’re wrong. Many people cast their magnet out a few times, find nothing and leave. The next day, somebody finds something in the exact same location. This happens more than you think and this is why certain individuals consistently find incredible things. It’s all in the method. You have to literally minesweep an area to make sure you’ve covered every inch of it.

9. Magnet Fishing Safety

If you’re interested in starting magnet fishing, it’s important to fully understand the potential risks before starting out. The first thing you need to be aware of is the risk of powerful magnets, especially if you’re getting more than one magnet. Always keep two recovery magnets at least 2m away from each other. If they get too close, which is very easy to do, they will violently snap towards each other and they’ll crush anything in their way. If you get your hand trapped between these, you’ll be taking a trip to the emergency room. This is why children must never use magnets without the supervision of a responsible adult. They’re very dangerous.

Again, we need to stress, always keep fishing magnets 2m apart from each other. If you have just purchased one magnet, you still need to take extra care. Keep your hand away from the magnet section and make sure there’s no way of getting your hand/fingers trapped or pinched.

Since you’ll be spending a lot of time near deep waters, you must have a heightened awareness of the risk of waterways. If you’re a weak swimmer, wear a life jacket in case you fall in. Children must always wear a life jacket and must always be under the full supervision of adults. And, of  course – never get inside of the water, even if you’ve lost your magnet.

10. Don’t discard your finds you’ve found

Over the years, we’ve seen videos of people finding something incredible and discarding it because they believe it’s just a chunk of metal. You’re treasure hunting and you’re looking at something that’s been potentially submerged for decades. There’ll be a layer of rust on these items  but beneath this rust could be a whole lot of surprises. If you want to be a successful magnet fisher, take everything home and clean everything – you could be pleasantly surprised by what you’ve found.  

 

How To Clean Your Magnet Fishing Finds

When finding things that have been submerged in the water, it’s important to remember they could have been there for decades (or even centuries) and the metal is likely to have corroded and rusted over time. Here we show how you remove this corrosion without damaging the item. It’s important to note some items aren’t fragile, like thick metal plates, and they’re more durable than other items. Some items are fragile and need to be given more care when cleaning. 

If you have a  large  solid metal item that has a thick layer of rust covering it, a power wash can be very effective but you must only do this if your item isn’t small, intricate or fragile. If you don’t have a power wash, simply use a metal scraper to peal the excess rust away. Once you’ve removed the excess rust from the surface, use warm water, washing up liquid and a small handheld wire brush to scrub the item until clean. 

Cleaning Small or Fragile Items 

Step 1: Soak for 24 hours (or more if needed).

There are a number of solutions that you can soak your finds  in that will penetrate and remove layers of rust. Below is a list of solutions that you can use to penetrate the surface of rust.

  • White vinegar
  • Citric Acid
  • Rustin 
  • Harpic Power Plus Black (be aware, this works well but can tarnish the colour of lighter coloured metals and coins) 
  • Cola (less effective but convenient and works well on coins).

When you use these solutions you’ll be putting your finds in an acid bath to penetrate the layer of corrosion. It’s recommended that you soak items for 24 hours, however, more stubborn items may need longer. 

Step 2: Buff it

Once you’ve finished the acid bath, you’ll see the item really start taking shape. Next, use a fine wire brush or rotary tool like the Dremel 3000 to dig deep and remove every bit of the corrosion. You’ll notice the colour and texture of the item may change and that’s normal – this is when you know you’re getting to the true surface of the item. 

Step 3: Protect it from future corrosion 

Now you’ve done all of the hard work, it’d be a real shame if the item became rusty again. This is quite normal, so use WD40 or another anti-corrosion oil to prevent rust accumulating on the surface again.

How To  Clean Your Finds Using Electrolysis 

In a nutshell, electrolysis is the process of passing electrical currents through a metal object and this can be used to remove layers of corrosion and rust from metals. It’s super effective and easy to do. Below you’ll see a how-to video showing how to do electrolysis.

Please be careful with this, you’ll be using a battery to pass the electrical current so you must take care when using this method. Once the electrolysis is finished, scrub it with warm water and WD40 to prevent rust from accumulating again. 

What Do People Find Magnet Fishing?

Anything that’s ferrous or has ferrous components can be pulled out while magnet fishing. Below are some of the finds that some popular magnet fishers have found:

  • Roman and Saxon Coins
  • Ancient artefacts
  • WW1 and WW2 medals, helmets, artefacts etc. 
  • Safes and money boxes
  • Coins (including different nationalities, dates etc)
  • (lots of) Bikes
  • Crossbow
  • WW2 RAF Pilot’s Axe (these were used to smash the windows of the aircraft if it was shot down). 
  • Motorcycles
  • Vintage mechanical scales
  • Money
  • Japanese Samurai Swords
  • Jewellery and timepieces (some people have found Rolexes! )
  • Computers (usually desktop computers)
  • Engine parts
  • Plasma TV
  • Japanese nun chucks
  • Mobile phones
  • Plasma TV 
  • Games Consoles

And lots more – we can’t list them all here because we’d be here all day.  

 

What are the benefits of magnet fishing?

Magnet Fishing is Eco-friendly

First of all, one of the main benefits of the hobby is the eco-friendly nature of it. It’s very rare to find a hobby that has a negative carbon footprint but the amount of scrap that people bring in is unbelievable. Magnet fishers get a lot of praise from the boating community as items in the water often damage their barges.

 

Making Money With Magnet Fishing

If you’re lucky enough to find a very rare antique, Museums could pay you thousands a month rental fees to have it on display. This is entirely dependent on the item you’ve found and the rate negotiated but there have been offers as high as £10,000 / $13,000 a month being offered for some rare items. 

 We’ve also been to events and spoken with competitive magnet fishers who have used their hobby to earn money. One individual traded their scrap in, saved their money for a new van so he could fit more magnet fishing finds in the van. He upgrades his equipment with the money he earns from weighing everything in.

 

Magnet Fishing For Family Experiences & Exercise

 Many families across the globe are taking part in magnet fishing and it’s an amazing experience. The excitement of latching onto something underwater and the anticipation of not knowing what you’ve got is thrilling. You can be outdoors for hours on end without even realising, it’s an amazing way to get yourself and the kids outside and moving. 

 

Magnet Fishing Helps Mental Health, Anxiety and Depression

Many people with mental health are drawn to magnet fishing and it doesn’t have to be a group activity. Going out to magnet fish on your own is therapeutic and many people do it to clear their mind. In a time where we’ve never been as conscious about pollutants and the environment, magnet fishing gives you a reason to make you feel good about yourself. Something that goes a long way for people suffering from mental health. 

 

Autism and Magnet Fishing

Many autistic adults and children are reluctant to go outside to meet new people and many families across the UK have found magnet fishing helps tremendously. The thrill and excitement of finding treasures overcome their fears of social anxiety and interaction and it’s been a saviour for many families.

Magnet Store released coloured fishing magnets for those autistic people who’re stimulated by bright colours and these have helped more families get involved .

The reports and stories we’ve heard from these families are touching – magnet fishing has helped so many autistic children build their confidence, speak to new people and they’re using that newly found confidence in their day-to-day lives. 

 

Magnet Fishing: Conclusion

Magnet  Fishing is an amazing hobby that, not only helps people from all over the world, but helps the environment tremendously. The key thing to remember when magnet fishing is do it sensibly, stay safe and recycle your unwanted finds. 

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