Method and apparatus for automatically determining the set of optimal operating angles for the variable pitch blades of a Kaplan-type turbine which has movable gates and is controlled by a governor and an electronic 3D cam. The governor controls the gates so as to maintain the turbine at a predetermined setpoint power generation level, and on-cam values of particular operating parameters of the turbine are measured. When evaluation of the measured data indicates that the turbine is in a steady-state condition, the blades are moved through a series of incremental off-cam variations in pitch. Following each incremental pitch variation of the blades, the governor repositions the gates to return the turbine to the predetermined setpoint power generation level. The operation of the turbine is then monitored, and values of particular operating parameters are measured at the new gate-blade operating point once the turbine has returned to steady-state. An efficiency value is computed for each of the measured operating points and are compared to identify a peak efficiency value.