Auto Fisherman Hook Setter




We live in west central Saskatchewan, Canada , where it is winter four to five months of the year. Nearby, there are many lakes filled with many varieties of fish including walleye, northern pike, perch, trout, and many others. So, during the winter months, ice fishing is a very popular activity. Having retired recently, I have decided to spent more time winter angling.

Here in Saskatchewan, the law allows a person to have two ice fishing lines in the water at a time. Of course, one fishing rod is usually being held, and the other fishing rod is often propped up and left to fish by itself. One tool I thought might be useful to have for the line left unattended is sometimes called an Auto Fisherman hook setter. There are also other devices called tip ups, which have a similar purpose, but work quite differently. The tip up will signal you when a fish has struck your bait, whereas hook setter tools actually assist in setting the hook when the fish strikes. There are commercially available hook setters such as the JawJacker, but I decided to try to make one. Before making a device of this type, please check local laws to ensure that this is permitted in your area.

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Step 1: ​Tools and Supplies Used:

I have a collection of salvaged materials that I saved when I worked as a satellite dish installer and from installing data projectors in schools. Here is a list of supplies and tools I used to make this project.

Drill and bit for 1/4” holes.

wrenches to tight bolts

Wire cutter and pliers to cut and bend the wire

Scrap piece of board

Various bolts and nuts

Braces, white metal tube from left over or salvaged work projects

wire coat hanger

Knob, sleeve and bolt salvaged from work projects

Step 2: Starting the Assembly

After checking the internet for samples for hook setters, I made a plan, gathered materials that I thought would work, and began to assemble.

The white metal tube with the holes will be used to hold the fishing rod. It needed to be shorter and I wanted it to be installed at an angel. I marked a line on the tube and used a metal cut off saw to cut it. From the satellite dish material, I used a bracket that is normally used to attach the satellite braces to the wall or roof of the house, and bolted it to the white metal tube.

Step 3: Attaching Metal Pieces to the Wooden Base

I found a piece of old wood (approximately 8” by 24”) to use as my base. I marked and drilled 4 holes near one end of the wood and attached the brace and tube as shown.

The two metal bars pictured here are used as arm supports for mounting satellite dishes. They are designed to fit together and slide back and forth to adjust to a variety of lengths. The last two pictures show the braces at two different lengths. I thought this would be useful to allow for a variety of different length ice fishing rods. If you are not familiar with ice fishing, most ice fishing rods are only 18” to 30” long. This allows the fisherman to be close to the hole in the ice.

Step 4: Adding the Trigger Bolt

Next, I needed a system to hold the tip of the fishing rod in a bent position that puts tension on the line to help set the hook when a fish strikes. For this I used a long bolt that had a hole on one end. This bolt also was salvaged from my re-claimed used satellite dish material. It was too long, so I cut approximately 3” off. The bolt was put in the hole at the end of two metal braces I had attached to the board earlier, and positioned it with two nuts. I call this bolt the trigger post.

Step 5: Making the Trigger Release

To make the tigger release, I needed very stiff wire which can be bent , but will retain its shape after being bent into the required shape. A wire coat hanger is perfect for this. I cut about 10” of wire and formed it into the shape shown in the picture. There are many versions of this trigger possible. I made a variety of trigger releases to try based on pictures I found online.

The trigger release has to be made in such a way that it will hold the tip of the rod in a bent shape to add tension to the rod, but will release that tip when a fish tugs on the line. It also had to be shaped so that when the trigger wire is released, it doesn’t fall out of the hole in the trigger post and possibly into the hole in the ice.

Making this trigger release is the most difficult part of this project. It took many tries in bending and re-bending the wire before I was able to make the trigger work. When the fish strikes the line pulls down the front part of the wire thus releasing the tip of the rod. This section is quite long to ensure that the fishing line does not get tangled with the wire when the trigger is released.

Step 6: Demonstration Video

The video shown here demonstrates how the hook setter actual works. I did this by pulling the line in a manner similar to how a fish might strike at a hook. It would be better to show an actual fish springing the trigger, but the fish seemed reluctant to participate.

Step 7: Adding the Base Cross Support to Prevent Tipping

The final step in my project was to stabilize the base to prevent it from tipping over. I used another brace similar to the two on top of the board. Using a long bolt, a sleeve and a knob I saved from something I had salvaged a while ago, I attached the brace to the bottom the base board. By turning the brace perpendicular to the base board, it provided a cross brace that prevents the hook setter from tipping. For storage and transporting the unit, I simply loosen the knob and turn the brace parallel to the board.

Step 8: Ready to Go Ice Fishing!!

The auto fisherman hook setter was now complete and ready to try.

The final picture shows the unit set up by a hole in the ice on a lake nearby. It is shown in the ready position. It also shows two walleye successfully caught using my new fishing partner.

This was a fun and fairly simple project to make. The materials I used are not readily available for most to find, but other materials could be substituted very easily.

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    10 Discussions


    2 years ago

    Cool idea. One thing to consider is the local laws. I live in Minnesota USA and auto setting devices are illegal based on my research during a project similar to this. Can you please add a note to check local laws for legality in your instructable so nobody gets in trouble with the DNR or similar authority?

    3 replies

    Reply 2 years ago

    The JawJacker is a device after which I modeled my Auto Fisherman. According to their website, their device is legal in all Canadian provinces and States except for Minnesota. I did, however, add a suggestion to my project to check local regulations regarding the use of this device. Thank you for your comments.


    Reply 2 years ago

    Thanks. Great instructable. I just don't want anyone to get into legal trouble because of ignorance. I am jealous


    Reply 2 years ago

    The main reason I post this is because I did converse with two DNR officers on Lake of the Woods. Something like this is frowned upon there.


    2 years ago

    I see no difference in doing this versus using an ice fishing trap(s). So the legality of it seems pretty normal. Plus there is no guarantee to catch a fish with it, since the fish could still get away. What I do think is who would write a law that allows you to use 2 jig poles at the same time. How can you operate them, well yeah I guess you do have 2 hands. Laws here in Maine are that your limited to X number of traps, and still allowed to use fishing poles. I don't see it as a living but as a hobby, so the likely hood to deplete the lake of fish? Here the law is more focused in the number of fish your allowed to catch on a daily basis. If you hit your legal limit then you pack up for the day.


    2 years ago

    That is not going to be legal many places in the US. In the US fishing is a sporting hobby. Unless used in an area of the world where the fish caught are necessary for sustenance it should never be used.

    Can't be nice here, that's not a sporting device, it's cheating and deserves a fine if caught.


    2 years ago

    What's about pleasure ?

    If fishermen act as hunters, where's the world going ?


    2 years ago

    You are right. It does prevent the whole contraption from being dragged into the water.


    2 years ago

    That's a really cool idea. Nice trigger mechanism. I figured the crossbar was more to prevent a pike from pulling the whole shebang through the hole in the ice than more for stability. If we had more ice fishing where I live, I'd be all over it. I miss it from when I went to college in Iowa.