Humminbird Helix 9 Sonar GPS Fishfinder Review – Our Thoughts
If you’re like us, then you love being out on the water all day, waiting for a bite. However, while there is something to be said for the relaxing nature of fishing, we do get a bit frustrated if we wind up with nothing to show for our time out there.
As such, we like to use fish finders to ensure that we can locate our next catch reliably. Back in the old days, these devices were not much better than years of experience, but these days they have become high-tech.
The Helix 9 from Humminbird is a prime example of how far the technology has come. With this one machine, you can become a pro at finding fish, even if you’ve never been out on the water. While some people may say that it’s more fun to do things the old-fashioned way, we prefer to have a catch of the day.
Let’s take a look at what the Helix 9 can do for your next fishing trip.
Table of Contents
9-Inch HD Display
If you were to compare this model to one from a few years ago, you would be amazed at the night and day difference. Old finders were unreliable for two reasons; first, the screen was usually so small that you couldn’t see anything, and they only showed black and white images, so what you could make out was hard to read anyway.
With the Helix 9, that is never a problem. A high-definition nine-inch screen is perfect for any occasion on the water. It’s backlit so that you can read it at any time (even in direct sunlight), and it is color coded so that you can spot the fish much more efficiently.
Overall, this device feels more like a high-tech tablet that’s been converted into a fish finder. With a screen this large and detailed, it’s almost as if you are peeking down with your own two eyes.
Dual-beam Plus Sonar
When it comes to actually finding the fish, most models come with a single view transducer. More often than not, this device can only point in one direction: down. With the Helix 9, however, you get a new and improved sonar system that enables you to get a full 360 view around the boat.
This way, if fish are hanging out near the surface, you won’t miss them because the transducer can’t see what’s going on. One important thing to know about this system, however, is that it is not as powerful as others. Because it operates in more directions, it won’t have as much power. This makes it ideal for rivers and shallow lakes, but not for deep water.
If you spend half of your day just trying to find the fish, then it can almost suck the fun out of the whole trip. Thankfully, because there is a GPS built into this system, you won’t have to do much navigation every time you go out. You can track your progress, plot waypoints, and even compare notes over time.
With this capability, you will never have to try and figure out how to return to the money spot. It will already be recorded in the finder, meaning you just have to follow the trail of breadcrumbs that you left behind.
While a GPS is great for tracking your own progress, it won’t show you who else is on the water. If you traverse popular waterways, you don’t want to be stuck in traffic along the way. The Helix 9 comes with advanced technology that enables you to see other boats and travel lanes. This way, you can focus more of your attention on fishing, not navigating around other people on the water.
Switchfire Sonar Modes
Usually, when a fish finder locates a target, it will create an arc showing its location. If the fish is moving, the arch will be less pronounced than if it were relatively stationary. However, not everyone likes to find fish this way, which is why the Helix 9 gives you a couple of options.
Using the Switchfire mode on the menu, you can adjust how the signals are presented on the screen. While there aren’t a whole lot of options available, it’s nice to have more than just one. Thus, if you prefer one over the other, you can change it on the fly.
What We Liked
- Durable construction
- Large, nine-inch HD screen
- Full-color imaging
- Backlit display
- Gimbal mounted bracket
- GPS chart plotting built-in
- AIS to avoid other boats and traffic
- Easy to use menu options
- Dual SD card slots
- Upgradeable software
- Autopilot mode
- Automatic charting for making your own maps
- Switchfire Sonar allows you to customize view
- Dual imaging sonar
- Wireless Bluetooth remote
What We Didn’t Like
- High-end features are optional, which can inflate the price
- Menu buttons are kind of small and hard to operate at times
How does the sonar work for this model?
Instead of having separate down and side imaging, this unit has a wide or a narrow beam. This can be directed as you see fit, but it doesn’t work the same way as a traditional down view system.
Does this model need a transducer?
Yes, but it doesn’t work well with deep water. It’s more designed for rivers and lakes, but not ocean fishing. Also, some lakes may be too deep for the transducer to work properly.
Are there maps and charts preinstalled with this unit?
Yes, but they are limited. You may have to download more online to get the ones that you want.
Can I sync this device to I-Pilot?
Yes, but that is an optional upgrade. You will have to pay extra for that capability.
Technically speaking, the Helix 9 is one of the more basic models in the Helix series. That means that there are plenty of options out there for upgrades and add-ons, but if you just want a quick and easy way to find fish, this is a perfect choice.
We really love the high-definition screen, and the core components that make up the Helix system are more than enough to make your next fishing trip a success. Best of all, because the software is upgradeable, you won’t have to replace this unit for a long time. Simply download updates, and you’ll be ready to go, year after year.