Magnet fishing for coins

1982 pennyMany magnet fishers are wondering if they can pick coins. In this article, I’ll answer this question. And I’ll tell you about a tool that will take coin hunting to the next level.

Can you find coins with magnets?

The magnets can only pick magnetic coins, i.e. those made from magnetic metals.

Usually, copper, nickel, steel, silver, and zinc are used to mint coins. The only magnetic metals on this list are nickel and steel.

The magnets can only pick coins that are made from steel or nickel. The composition percentage needs to be high.

For example, US nickels can’t be picked by magnets. Because they are made mostly from copper (75 %). And the rest is nickel (25%). This is not enough to be picked by your magnet.

You can’t distinguish between magnetic and non-magnetic coins only by appearance. For example, the core can be copper and coated with nickel.

I’ll tell you about some of the magnetic coins in the US, UK, EU, and Canada in the next paragraph. And there is more…

I’ll tell you about a tool that you can use to hunt coins regardless of their composition, inland or underwater.

Which coins are magnetic? (US, UK, EU Canada)

For the US, only the 1943 US cent is magnetic. It is minted from 99% steel and coated with zinc. The US mint did that to save copper that was needed during WW2.

The rest of the US coins are non-magnetic. So, your magnet can’t pick them. In the next paragraph, I’ll show how you can hunt them.

Canadian magnet fishers are more fortunate. Several Canadian coins are magnetic.

The Canadian Loonie coins are magnetic. Their core is nickel and covered with bronze.

Canadian quarters minted after 1968 can be picked by your magnet. From 1968 until 1999, they have been made from 99.9% nickel. Starting from the year 2000, they have been made from 94% steel, the coating is from copper and nickel.

Most of the Canadian nickels are also magnetic depending on the mintage year.

For UK magnet fishers, you have the 1p, 2p, 5p, and 10p coins. The composition of the 1p and 2p was changed in 1992. They are made now from steel coated with copper.

The composition of the 5p and 10p changed in 2011 to nickel-plated steel. These changes are due to rising metal prices.

For European magnet fishers, 1 cent, 2 cents, and 5 cents are magnetic because they are copper-plated steel.

Is there a better way to hunt coins?

I think this is the moment you have been waiting for. I’ll tell you about a tool that can be used to hunt coins regardless of their composition. You don’t have to care whether it is magnetic or not.

This tool is a metal detector. If you want more details about this tool, you can check this guide.

They are efficient for coin hunting inland and underwater. Inland they can be used everywhere. And they can detect coins buried up to 10 inches underground.

Standard detectors can be submerged up to the control box (the same height as your waist). If you want to fully submerge them, you need an advanced waterproof detector.

It can detect coins even if it is covered with inches of mud or hidden under a rock. And unlike magnets, it can be used to find gold and silver.

Moreover, it has the discrimination feature. With it, you can program the device to focus only on precious metals and to ignore junk.

For models with LCD screens, you know whether the buried metal is iron or silver. Obviously, you’ll forget about the iron and focus only on finding silver. This is a huge time saver. This also means a bucket full of more goodies rather than rusty muddy pieces.

The price difference isn’t that big. You can get a detector for basically the same price as a fishing magnet kit. They are easy and safe to use. They don’t get stuck on bridges and they don’t pinch fingers.

The only advantage that magnets have over metal detectors is the ability to fish deep waters without having to dive.

Underwater detectors can work perfectly fine even under 200 feet deep. But you should be a professional scuba diver to reach these depths.

Can you make money from magnet fishing?

The short is yes. But it is not going to be a full-time income. It is just a few dollars here and there unless you find a treasure.

Many metal detectorists found large coin hoards and large gold nuggets over the years. But these are lucky finds. Don’t rely on that for an income. I consider it as a hobby rather than a profession.

Coins can be sold for a few hundred up to a few thousand dollars. They should be in good shape, shiny has no scratches. You definitely won’t find these underwater. You can check out this article for more details.


Your fishing magnet can only pick coins made of steel or nickel. This means that in the US you basically won’t find any.

Metal detecting is the way to go if you want to hunt coins regardless of their composition.

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