Humminbird Helix 7 Review
Among the first things you will learn as a fisherman is that you need a lot of stealth to have the edge over the fish. Ideally, you should spot them before they even realize you are in the neighborhood. This requires planning as the water is their territory, and they have a huge advantage over you.
Over the years, several advances have been made to try and tilt the scale in our favor. One of the most common techniques used to catch the fish unaware has been to use a gadget called a fish finder. Today we are going to review one of the most prolific fish finders in the current market.
The Humminbird Helix 7
It is a cutting-edge fish finder manufactured by Humminbird that uses sonar (Sound Navigation Ranging) technology to detect or locate items underwater acoustically. It does not matter if you are in new terrain or are familiar with your surroundings; the Humminbird 7 will help you find the fish.
Our review will focus on the Humminbird Helix 7 CHIRP MEGA SI GPS G3 fish finder, the latest version of the Helix 7 series. It comes after the Helix 7 CHIRP GPS G3 and the Helix 7 CHIRP MEGA DI GPS G3. They upgraded the CHIRP GPS G3 to the CHIRP MEGA DI GPS G3 by introducing MEGA Down Imaging to achieve underwater clarity below the boat.
The MEGA SI GPS G3 is superior to both because it also has MEGA Side Imaging that provides crystal clear viewing on both sides of the boat up to 125 feet in addition to MEGA Down Imaging.
It still has the regular Helix 7 features like Ethernet and Bluetooth networking capabilities and a dual spectrum SwitchFire CHIRP sonar.
These guarantee you will have a crystal clear view of the terrain below you and on both sides of your vessel, much better than the standard sonars we are accustomed to.
The sonar is powered by a Humminbird proprietary CHIRP transducer, which unlocks the images with three times more clarity, giving you clearly defined fish images and a feel of the terrain and fish-holding structure below. You can even tell the depth of water and existing contours.
The Humminbird Helix 7 also comes with a standard and built-in Humminbird basemap that will guide you to areas of interest in the surroundings and enable you to anticipate those buoys, hazards, marinas, depth, and day markers, among other things.
The library is rich with over 10,000 maps that combine well with the GPS to show you exactly where you are and map your track with respect to your chosen areas of interest.
You have full control over all these functionalities via the push of a button on the control head and a whole 7” high-resolution color screen to view both the terrain and the maps.
It allows you to control the kind of feedback you receive from the sonar. There is enough room to accommodate the pre-loaded split screens for different view types.
The complete package comes with the transducer and its mounting hardware, a power cable, and a gimbal mounting bracket to keep it horizontal at all times.
Humminbird is the number one name in marine electronics reputed to design and manufacture top quality and thoroughly reliable marine equipment.
They have been making a difference in the daily lives of anglers in the water for over 45 years. No wonder they have become America’s favorite fish finder innovators.
They started from humble beginnings in Eufaula, Alabama, on the shores of the Walter F. George Lake (nowadays referred to as Lake Eufaula after a native American tribe of the same name).
The town is referred to as ‘The Big Bass Capital of the world,’ which gives a hint to the importance of fishing tradition to the area. They even have a 12-foot-tall statue in the middle of the town of a Largemouth Bass named ‘Manny’ after a famous lure maker who hailed from the town.
Therefore, it comes as no surprise that they are responsible for adding such a marvel to the fishing community.
Why We Love It
- MEGA Side Imaging and Down Imaging for crystal clear images
- Superior transducer to unlock images with clarity
- Ethernet and Bluetooth networking capability
- Built-in Humminbird basemap for accurate positioning
- It comes with a one-year limited warranty
- Slightly pricey
What to Consider When Getting a Fish Finder
The ultimate fish finder should get you to the prime fishing spot without spooking the fish. It should enable you to keep tabs on the best spots available and to retrace your steps for the next expedition every time you are successful.
It should also give you a clear understanding of the terrain in which you are fishing, which is key in determining your fishing technique and unearthing hidden prey.
There are a few considerations that you may have to ponder over to get your ideal fish finder:
Since they send the sonar signal and receive it back, they need to be immersed in the water to perform. This calls for a number of logistical decisions:
- Confirm if they are water-resistant and to what depths they can maintain this
- Ensure they are connected to a working power source; some are self-powered with inbuilt batteries while others rely on the vessel’s power connections.
- The type of transducer also matters; some are more powerful than others. Since they send, receive, and decode the sonar signals, they will ultimately influence your image accuracy and clarity.
- Decide whether you need a portable or fixed transducer. Fixed transducers are usually mounted on a vessel, while portable ones can be used for angling from the shore. There is no harm in having both to cover each scenario.
- Its resolution determines how the readings will be reflected. Go for higher resolution screens so that you can navigate easily.
- Backlit screens are recommended as you may find yourself in situations where natural light is insufficient, yet you need to navigate the menus.
- We also recommend anti-glare for the opposite extreme where there is too much sunlight reflecting on the screen. You need your hands free to be doing the actual fishing once the prey is spotted.
- The screen size also plays a huge role in determining how efficient it will be to use. Larger displays are preferred because it is easier to see the readings. Apart from being more visible, they have space for split-screen viewing, which is important for the more advanced fish finders with multiple reading functionalities. However, they occupy more space, so you need to strike a balance depending on your needs.
This is very critical for navigation first because it helps you identify where you are at all times.
It also aids to quickly identify areas that have already been mapped out as excellent fishing spots, which saves a lot of time getting there.
You may opt not to have GPS as it comes at an additional cost if you intend to stick to the docks, or you are a stationary fisherman.
Still, you never know when the need or urge to move to other locations may arise. A GPS enabled fish finder is never a bad thing to have.
Distinction Between Down Scanning and Side Scanning
A down scanning fish finder scans the water directly below your vessel and focuses on exposing the structure and the fish hiding in between.
On the other hand, a side scanning fish finder scans sideways to the left and right of your position. It is better suited for surface fishing and enables the accuracy of wider casts.
You can choose the type that better suits your fishing style, although for a little extra, you can get one that does both down and side-scanning.
Add a little more, and you can even get one with new cutting-edge 360% sonar, which scans all-around your vessel and below it for a more comprehensive understanding of the terrain.
Key Strengths of The Humminbird Helix 7
CHIRP Digital Sonar
CHIRP is an acronym for Compressed High-Intensity Radar Pulse. This technology has been perfected in Humminbird products. It enables you to see things that other forms of 2D sonar can’t see.
It covers a wide range of frequencies, producing more accurate and detailed fish, structure, and bottom returns. You can isolate the fish from their habitat and tell the difference between baitfish and game fish and their structures and vegetation.
They are superior because they are engineered to minimize charging time, giving off more pulses, which results in more information and better target separation. The transducer allows you to experience the full capability of the Humminbird Helix 7 CHIRP Digital Sonar.
It is durable, precise, and innovative. Large game fish are easy to spot as they will show up on the screen as long, well-defined arches enabling you to present your lure accurately.
It also has a high signal-to-noise ratio, which reduces clutter and gives you confidence that what you see is an accurate representation. It is built to maximize fish detail and increase the coverage area.
MEGA Down Imaging and Side Imaging
The Side Imaging sonar uses two precise razor-thin beams aimed at right angles to the boat’s path to take acoustic readings of the area up to 400 feet left and right from your location.
The resulting image is added to others taken immediately before it and after it to build a very detailed view of the lake’s bottom. It keeps a record of the terrain your vessel has passed over.
Down Imaging also uses a razor-thin high-frequency beam that creates picture-like images of fish, vegetation, and underwater structure. The images are very accurate to the extent that you can see individual fish and even discern the fish’s head, tail, and dorsal fin.
Unlike Side Imaging, the images are displayed vertically, with the most recent information appearing on the screen’s right side.
It can be used in saltwater and freshwater for depths ranging from as low as 2 feet up to 400 feet. The ability to tell the difference between baitfish and game fish or even between the different species helps you value the target in advance.
By combining Down Imaging and CHIRP Digital Sonar, you can differentiate between cover and structure and single out the fish hiding within. This eliminates guesswork and makes you more efficient.
What Else is Out There? The Alternatives
The Humminbird Helix 7 series may not be your ideal fit. You can check out some of these highly-rated fish finders to explore your options out there.
We are particularly excited about the Humminbird Helix 10, as reviewed here, which is an upgrade to the 7 series with a bigger screen and the latest versions of all the technology mentioned herein.
If you already have a fish finder that is not GPS enabled, you can get a stand-alone boat GPS, ensuring you constantly have a sense of direction.
The Humminbird Helix 7 represents the advancements made by passionate and experienced fishing enthusiasts in their quest to merge convenience and efficiency. It is a great asset to have in the water as it gives you numerous advantages which will definitely justify the purchase.