Last Updated on August 18, 2020 by Donnell Henderson
If you’ve been researching fish finders for longer than ten minutes, chances are you have come across one of Humminbird’s high-quality products.
There is a wide selection of fish finders from Humminbird available, and models in the Helix 7 range have been receiving well-deserved attention lately. These fish finders have all the features you want in a mid-range fish finder—from CHIRP technology to built-in navigation.
If you need a fish finder, read this comprehensive Helix 7 SI review to learn more about its features, benefits, and drawbacks. We also review a couple of higher-end, such as the Humminbird Helix 9 and the Humminbird Helix 10.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Fish Finder
As someone that regularly goes out fishing on a river, lake, or reservoir, you may be familiar with the frustration of sitting patiently for hours without catching any fish. With a portable fish finder like the Humminbird Helix 7, however, unsuccessful fishing trips will no longer be a problem for you.
A portable fish finder may be the perfect addition to your equipment if you fish from a boat and want to find fish in depths of up to 1,000 feet.
If you are a shore angler or if you like to go ice fishing, a portable fish finder may not be suitable for your needs. Instead, you should opt for a castable fish finder that consists of a transducer that you can cast out with your bait from a fixed location.
People who believe that fishing is all about relying on your skills and the tranquility of sitting and waiting may scoff at using any external aid.
To ensure that you purchase a fish finder for your needs, consider your regular fishing setting, existing gear, navigational needs, and the fish species you target. You should also think about the information that you may find valuable while fishing, including the water depth, water temperature, watercraft speed, and the location of your favorite fishing spots.
Our Humminbird Helix 7 Review
The Helix 7 SI offers a wide range of features that make it a suitable fish finder for boat anglers. It provides you with a bright and clear image and is appropriate for use in water depths up to 1,500 feet.
The Humminbird Helix 7 shares many similarities with its Helix predecessor, including the interface, SwitchFire sonar, and built-in GPS with chart plotter. There are some differences between the Helix 7 and the Helix 5, however.
The Helix 7 SI features down-imaging and side-imaging, a 7-inch screen that is big enough to accommodate split-screen views, and a single card slot that you can use to upload additional maps.
The Helix 7 SI has several standout features, including a bonded-glass display, an upgraded and durable gimbal mounted bracket, and an upgraded memory for faster map creation and screen refreshing.
While the Helix 7 fish finder has a lot to offer, it may not be your best option if you need a fish finder to connect with your other Humminbird products as it has limited networking functionality. It also has only one MicroSD card slot, so you will have to change card frequently.
- Features down- and side-imaging to give you a complete underwater view
- The SwitchFire display provides you with multiple viewing option
- CHIRP technology ensures high-quality images
- Built-in GPS provides you with a comprehensive navigational and chart-plotting functionality
- Large 7-inch screen is big enough for several display options
- The Helix 7’s features may not convincingly justify the price tag
- Features mechanical control buttons instead of a touchscreen
- The Helix 7 is not compatible with Bluetooth
Features and Benefits
The Helix 7 features a 16-bit color, 7-inch display with a pixel matrix of 800H x 480V. It has an LED backlight and is perfectly readable in all light conditions, including bright sunlight.
Like other fish finders in this category, the control unit has a waterproof rating of IPX7, which means that it is submersible to a depth of one meter for thirty minutes. You can confidently expose the control unit to splashes and rain without fearing water damage.
The Helix 7’s transducer features three sonar types, namely side-imaging, down-imaging, and DualBeam Plus. Al three these sonars are supported by CHIRP technology, which modulates the beam over a wide frequency range instead of a single frequency to achieve an improved target separation, clear imagery, and detailed underwater information.
The frequency ranges for the sonars are as follows:
- DualBeam Plus: 175 kHz to 225 kHz and 75 kHz to 95 kHz
- Down-imaging: 420 kHz to 520 kHz
- Side-imaging: 420 kHz to 520 kHz
The side-imaging sonar emits a 240-foot beam on either side to cover a significant percentage of the water surrounding the boat.
The transducer that you receive with the Helix 7 is the XNT 9 SI 180 T model that is fitted with a thermometer to provide you with the water temperature. The transducer also features a transom mount and 6m of cable.
The Helix 7 comes with many sonar features, including Selective Fish ID+, screen snapshot, sonar recording and rewind, real-time sonar, bottom lock, split zoom, fish alarms, and SwitchFire.
See it in action here:
SwitchFire is the sonar system that comes with the Helix 7, and it aims to give you a real-time look below the water surface. The SwitchFire functionality uses precision sonar and two modes of operation, namely clear mode and max mode.
Clear mode strips the signals of distortions that are often the result of agitated water. Max mode provides you with terrain information and fish representations as well as thermoclines and water currents.
The Helix 7 has a built-in GPS receiver with an accuracy of 2.5mk. The unit can store up to 2,500 waypoints or 45 routes with 50 waypoints each.
A prominent navigational feature of the Helix 7 is the AutoChart Live that is based on the information provided by the 2D sonar and shows the depth contours of a body of water. With AutoChart Live, your maps always have up-to-date depth contours.
One drawback of the feature is that you need a LakeMaster Navionics or ZeroLines card for it to work.
General User Impressions
Feature that users like include the LCD screen with its high-resolution, backlight and readability in any conditions. People also have no problem controlling the unit, even if the water is choppy.
Many reviewers commented on the photo-quality imaging, which is the result of the CHIRP technology. The fish finder’s accuracy is also one of the Helix 7’s big talking points. Some reviewers recommended the LakeMaster Plus maps instead of the pre-loaded maps as they tend to be more accurate.
Do the readouts include water temperature?
Yes, there is a thermometer connected to the transducer that provides the information for the water temperature readouts. Other information on the display includes the time of day and boat speed.
Is it possible to upload bottom hardness and vegetation information to the AutoChart LiveShare?
No, you can only upload depth soundings to the AutoChart Live service.
Yes, the Helix 7 features Instant Image Update that displays information in real time. The fish you see on your screen are currently located in your sonar beam.
The Helix 7 is a high-quality fish finder that is packed with valuable features. There are so many things to like about this product, with the most notable being the DualBeam Plus sonar with SwitchFire and the side-imaging and down-imaging capabilities.
Other high-end features of the Helix 7 that we like include the CHIRP technology for clear imagery, the sonar functions like bottom lock, Selective Fish ID+, and alarms, and the fish finder’s depth capability of up to 1,500 feet.
Editor’s Note: If you’re looking for a fish finder that covers more breadth than depth, then a side-imaging fish finder is what you need — check out our picks here. You may also read our roundup of the best of the best fish finders.
The Helix 7 also has one of the best screens in this category. The display is glass bonded, glare-proof for optimal visibility, and it has a resolution of 800 x 480. You will be able to view information without any problems, even in direct sunlight.
One problem we have with the Helix 7 is that the side- and down-imaging sonar modes are not entirely suitable for deep water fishing. If you need a unit for deep sea fishing, you need a sonar with the appropriate depth capabilities. Another issue is that the unit cover is not included, and you have to purchase it separately.
We also don’t like the fact that the Helix 7 can’t connect to other Humminbird products because fans of the brand may lose out on the added functionality that comes with connecting and syncing units.
The Helix 7 is a high-quality fish finder and perfect for boat fishing on lakes, rivers, and reservoirs. For the price, the Helix 7 offers excellent value as units with the same features tend to cost more. The CHIRP SI GPS G2 in the Helix 7 range has all the features that are available in this product category, except for networking capabilities.
The SI may not have the same depth capabilities as some of the high-end fish finders in the market, but they have everything you need for regular freshwater fishing. Click below to check out the Helix 7.