I don’t normally begin these articles with personal stories – but I find this one too funny to not share.
Not long ago I was meeting my father for a week retreat at our favorite lake. He arrived early and naturally could not wait for me get there before fishing from the dock. However when I pulled up, I saw him frustrated and reaching in the water trying to collect something from the bottom of the lake. I knew what happened. His favorite lure fell to the water below where he couldn’t get it.
Thankfully, after a little cursing and brainstorming, we found the house we were staying at had a magnet on the wall. A MacGyver episode later, we tied the magnet on a fishing pole and went fishing for lures. And after a lot of time and patience, my father had gotten his favorite lure back.
If you’re reading this article, maybe you’re thinking the same thing. Can I pick a lure out of a lake bottom with a magnet? The answer in most cases is yes you can because most fishing lures are magnetic. You can also use something like a magnet bar to organize or store your baits if desired. Below I’ll go into all the types of baits that are magnetic and those that are not.
Are fishing hooks magnetic?
Most fishing lures are magnetic because generally all of them have hooks which are made of some type of steel. Any kind of carbon steel (which most high end lures have) are magnetic and most types of stainless steel (cheaper lures) are as well. So even if your actual lure is plastic or you have a soft bait tied on a hook – if it has hooks attached to it then it can be picked up or held in place by a magnet.
If you purposefully want to find the most magnetic hooks you can find, opt for the more expensive ones made from carbon steel which is extremely magnetic and will be attracted to a magnet very easily.
Are fishing weights and sinkers magnetic?
The majority of weights that are used by fisherman are made of lead. Lead is a very dense metal which lends itself to being heavy in small forms – an ideal quality for a fishing weight. But they are not ideal in that like most very dense metals – they are not magnetic. So if you are planning to use a magnet strip or pick up your weights from a lake bottom with a strong magnet – you are not in luck. They are likely just gone to the lake.
On the other hand – you may have tungsten weights if you are willing to pay a few extra dollars. Tungsten is harder to form than lead which makes it more expensive. But it is much more dense and therefore better to use as a weight because it is more sensitive and you can get more weight in a smaller package. Surprisingly, it is also partially magnetic. This means that it will weakly attract to a magnet enough that a very strong magnet may be able to hold it in place or even pick it up.
But don’t get your hopes up too much. The sheer weight of tungsten sinkers is likely to be too much for your average magnet to hold onto or pick up as it is only slightly magnetic. So I don’t believe you will have much luck picking up tungsten weights with a magnet unless it is an extremely strong one. Even then, you need some luck on your side.
Are jigheads magnetic?
Much like weights, jigheads are usually formed by molding lead. Tungsten is okay for weights that need simple formations but a unique formation like a jighead required something easier to work with – and that is usually lead. As mentioned above, lead is not magnetic at all. So it’s unlikely the “head” of your jighead is magnetic.
However the hooks themselves are often made of carbon steel which is extremely magnetic. So as long as the jighead itself is not so heavy that the magnet cannot pull it up, you’re likely to be able to pick up jigheads from the bottom or hold them in place with a magnet if you focus on picking up the actual hook section. Anything ¼ ounce and under should be picked up by a good magnet.
Are fishing lure bodies magnetic?
There are so many different types of lures that it is hard to discuss this generally, but the majority of lures you will be using are made of plastic and therefore, not magnetic. However there are many parts of lures that are magnetic. For example, every crankbait or topwater likely has a steel eye where you tie the line – this part of the lure is very likely magnetic.
The issue becomes the weight of the plastic is often much more than the small amount of attraction a magnet can pull on the very small eyelet of a lure which is steel. So you really have to focus on the hooks themselves which are likely the largest pieces of metal that is magnetic you can grasp onto. For light lures, it’s very possible the attraction between the hooks and magnet are enough to hold it in place or even pick it up. As you get heavier than ¼ of an ounce though this becomes less likely.
The strength of attraction matters
You now should know the general guidelines for what and is what is not magnetic in fishing lures. But it is important to remember the strength of attraction is as important as if it is at all magnetic or not. If you were fishing with a bait and got it stuck in something on the bottom – there is no magnetic attraction strong enough to get a lure unstuck. Even if you held a magnet right over it, it won’t have enough pull to get it out by itself.
But if you accidentally just drop a lure overboard and it falls into a sandy bottom or you are trying to use a magnet just to organize tackle in your home – they are likely strong enough to serve your needs. In the example I started this article with, my father dropped the lure while tying it and it was just sitting on the bottom with hooks up. It is what allowed it to be pulled up more easily.
So don’t expect magnets as a way to get every lure back or some unknown clue into retrieving lost baits on the lake bottom. It really can only be used to pick up loose hanging baits, not something that got stuck.