The Automatic Fisherman can be used straight out of the package and drastically improve your catch rates over a conventional tip up, however there are a few modifications which will make for near perfect results!
Let’s begin by taking a look at how the Automatic Fisherman works. First off, a rod is placed in the rod holder of the Automatic Fisherman base. The line is then baited and sent down the hole. The rod is then loaded onto the pin of the base and the line is placed over the end of the metal shaft. Next, the bobber (that is placed between the first and second guides of the rod) is set to allow for the fish to take the desired amount of line before the Automatic Fisherman will deploy. This is just a quick summary of how the unit works; now let’s break it down and improve our results even further!
The Ice Stopper
The Automatic Fisherman relies on the use of the Ice Stopper Bobber in sub-freezing conditions to prevent the line from freezing in the hole, which could potentially render the entire setup useless as the fish would feel that resistance prior to the unit deploying. The Ice Stopper Bobber freezes into the hole, while the Ice Stopper Solution placed inside remains in liquid form. This allows your line to pass freely through the Ice Stopper Bobber even in the coldest conditions, maintaining the friction free presentation that is key to icing finicky fish!
The Automatic Fisherman comes with a bobber that is placed on the line between the first and second guides of the rod. This bobber is used to determine the amount of line a fish can take before the Automatic Fisherman sets the hook. Rather than placing the bobber on the line of the pole and deal with the potential of having the bobber become wrapped around the rod, this modification sends the bobber flying off of the line when the hook is set!
To build a deploying bobber, simply take a paperclip or piece of metal wire and string it through the bobber, leaving about two inches of wire on each side. Bend the wire at a 90° angle in a straight line on each edge of the bobber. Then take a pliers and wrap each end of the wire around to create a half circle. The bobber can now be placed on the line where it normally would, and once the fish trips the Automatic Fisherman, the bobber will fly off and you no longer have to worry about it while fighting the fish! This modification is extremely useful when changing bobber weights is necessary which I will discuss next.
This next tip can be a make or break factor when dealing with small or extremely finicky fish. As we know with the Automatic Fisherman, the bobber placed on the line acts as a counterweight as well as a visual cue for when a fish grabs your bait. Having the right balance between your counterweight and your bait/lure will essentially eliminate all resistance on the line when a fish grabs your presentation.
There are two ways to achieve perfect balance and thus create a resistance free presentation which will prevent fish from spitting your bait prior to the triggering of the Automatic Fisherman. First, you can change the amount of weight to your presentation so that the line nearly pulls your bobber up without having a fish pull on the line. This method works well, however having too much weight on your presentation may cause the presentation to become too gaudy, resulting in less bites.
The second option is to adjust your bobber weight based on your presentation. This can be achieved by purchasing a variety of bobbers and setting them up as explained above. You can then choose the properly weighted bobber to match your specific presentation. For instance, when fishing for Pike and using large Shiner Minnows, a larger bobber will be required to prevent the minnow from raising the bobber. On the other side, if you are using a small ice jig tipped with wax worms for Panfish, the lightest possible bobber will give the fish the least amount of resistance therefore making it more likely for them to eat the bait without feeling resistance and spitting the hook.
Another crucial component to the resistance equation is the triggering pin. The triggering pin can be adjusted both with the bolt and the angle of the pin. The bolt is used to get the pin in the ball park area to properly hold the rod at a 90° angle to the unit. Once this is achieved, the pin can then be tweaked to adjust the sensitivity of the trigger.
Care must be taken when adjusting the sensitivity of the trigger, as the rod can very easily deploy and if you have your face in the immediate area above the unit you might get slapped silly! I recommend having the line wrapped around your hand to have control of the tripping of the unit as well as keeping a safe distance from directly above the rod.
To achieve the lightest possible setting, the tool supplied with the unit should be used to bend the pin slightly each time until the Automatic Fisherman trips with nearly zero resistance but also will not randomly trip from a gust of wind. This fine tuning may take a bit to get just right, but once it is set will lead to many more hookups in the future! Once each pole is adjusted to its base, I like to number or label the pair so that I keep the same rod with the same base to prevent having to re-adjust things.
Whether you are using the bobber through the line or the modified paperclip bobber, determining how much line to allow the fish to take before the unit deploys can also make a big difference in your catch at the end of the day! I recommend starting with various bobber locations which will help you determine what is most productive on that given day. There will be days where setting the bobber right on the ice next to the unit will be necessary to give the fish the maximum possible amount of line, while other days you might only want the fish to get an inch of line before the unit trips! Paying attention to what works on that specific day will lead to more hookups!
Getting your desired depth just right can be challenging with the Automatic Fisherman since the rod tip is placed onto the pin and then additional line is used to set the bobber in the desired location. There are a couple ways to ensure your bait is set at the desired depth. A simple way of getting your depth right is to simply determine where bottom is, then to use a marker to mark that spot on the line. Make sure to wipe the line dry prior to doing this to ensure the marker will work properly.
Another option is to use a flasher to adjust your line once the system is setup. I prefer this method as it can be done quickly and precisely. Care must be taken when adjusting the line, as too much tension will result in the unit deploying!
Properly set drags are as important as any other facet of this unit, as they are your line of defense while you make your way to the hole. Having your drag set too tight can easily lead to break offs, while a loose drag may prevent a good hook set which may allow the fish to spit the hook before your arrival. When determining the proper amount of drag I like to set the rod into the unit and load it on the pin. I then wrap the line around my hand and pull straight down until the unit trips. I then continue to pull the line to ensure the drag is set to allow the fish to take line while maintaining a steady pressure against the fish. Obviously when fishing Panfish the drag should be set much lighter than when chasing large Pike or Steelhead!
The type of rod and action of the rod being used ultimately determines the magnitude of the hook set. Choosing the right action for the species being targeted will ensure the proper amount of pop when the unit trips. When targeting Panfish, a light action rod will prevent the unit yanking the lips off the fish, while a medium or even medium-heavy action will ensure a solid hook set when targeting Pike.
Getting the most out of your Automatic Fisherman will undoubtedly be the difference in an average and an exceptional day on the ice! I hope a few of these tips will lead to even more productive days on the ice using your Automatic Fisherman!