Fish Finder Tech


Is bigger always better? When it comes to catching fish, the answer is usually yes. When it comes to fish finders, on the other hand - well, that’s what we’re here to talk about today.

The HELIX 9 and HELIX 10 models are two of the most popular fish finders in Humminbird’s HELIX line. As you’ll soon learn, the only real difference between them is the size of the display and the cost of the unit. 

To help you determine which unit is right for you, we’re going to look at a lot of details, from the specs of the units to how anglers are likely to use them on their vessels. We’ll talk about subjective factors, like how easy the units are to look at, and we’ll explain which one we prefer and why. 

But before we get into all of that, we need to talk about the golden rule of fish finder comparisons. You might be surprised there’s a golden rule for such a niche topic, but trust us, there is - and it’s important.

The Golden Rule When Comparing Fish Finders

“When comparing two fish finders in the same series, be sure to compare models with the same features.” This isn’t always possible - the top-of-the-line HELIX 5, for example, doesn’t have anywhere near as many features as the top-of-the-line HELIX 10.

The HELIX 9 and HELIX 10, however, have two top-of-the-line models with exactly the same features.* For the curious among you, these models are known as the HELIX 9 CHIRP MEGA SI+ GPS G4N and HELIX 10 CHIRP MEGA SI+ GPS G4N. 

Those are the two models we’re going to be comparing - apples to apples, if you will. You might decide that you want a model with fewer features - that’s okay! The HELIX 9 and 10 are both available in a number of different variations, but you can always find a one-to-one comparison between those variations. For example, the HELIX 9 CHIRP can be compared to the HELIX 10 CHIRP.

A note on transducers

There’s some misinformation about the transducers packaged with the HELIX 9 and HELIX 10 circulating on the internet - we suspect it’s because users aren’t following the golden rule. 

The basic form of this misinformation is that the HELIX 9 comes bundled with a lower quality transducer than the HELIX 10. As long as you’re getting models with the same features (other than screen size, of course), this shouldn’t be the case. For example, the HELIX 9 and HELIX 10 models we’re comparing both come with the XM 9 HW MSI T transducer (say that three times fast). 

*As you’ll see soon, technically, there are very small differences between the HELIX 9 and 10 other than screen size - the most prominent of them being that the HELIX 9 used microSD, while the HELIX 10 uses standard SD. The size of the mounts is also (unsurprisingly) different, with the HELIX 10 mount being larger than the HELIX 9. Always do your research - but following the golden rule will save you a lot of time.


Sonar-Depth1,200 ft. standard 3,000 ft. max
Imaging-RangeDown: 125 ft (800 kHz), 200 ft (MEGA), 400 ft (455 kHz)


Side: 250 ft (800 kHz), 400 ft (MEGA), 800 ft (455 kHz)

GPSInternal, high-precision
Operating Frequencies Supported50/83/200/455/800 kHz & 1.2 MHz
TransducerXM 9 HW MSI T
Display size (Diagonal)HELIX 9: 9”
HELIX 10: 10”
Resolution1024 x 600 HD
Maps IncludedHumminbird Basemap
Memory Card SlotsHELIX 9: 2 microSD

HELIX 10: 2 SD

Max Waypoints, Routes, Tracks/Points2,500, 47, 50/20,000
SizeHELIX 9: 16.5” L x 11” W x 9.8” H (10 lbs)

HELIX 10: 19.2” x 12.7” W x 10.2” H (13 lbs)

The Size of the Screen VS. the Size of the Unit

As you can see above, the HELIX 9 and HELIX 10 have remarkably similar sizes considering the difference in screen size. That extra diagonal inch on the HELIX 10 is adding a lot of square inches of screen.

Practically, this means that the screen of the HELIX 10 is much bigger in proportion to the rest of its body. To us, this makes the overall design of the HELIX 10 feel much sleeker than the HELIX 9. In the world of fish finding, sleek design is functional, not just aesthetic - a higher screen-to-body ratio means less visual clutter. This means that the larger screen on the HELIX 10 helps you view and interpret data on your fish finder in more ways than one.

Using the HELIX 9 and HELIX 10 on Your Vessel

Now that we’ve talked about the sleeker design of the HELIX 10, let’s take a moment to consider how these fish finders will be used on your boat - if you don’t need a larger display, you may be able to save some cash.

You’re going to value a larger display in the area of your boat you fish from most often. Conversely, a smaller display is a fine option for areas used for scouting but not for fishing.

You might, for example, opt to use a HELIX 10 model on the bow of your boat if that’s your favorite spot to fish from. You could then use a smaller model, like a HELIX 9 or even a HELIX 7, on your vessel’s console. When you’re scouting, you care less about the smaller details, so a less clear image isn’t as much of a problem.

It’s a good idea to consider what features you want when actively fishing versus what features you want when scouting. If you like to scout with imaging, but you fish exclusively with traditional sonar, for example, you might opt for a fish finder with a larger display but fewer imaging features in the places you’re actively fishing from. This can free up some of your spending money to get a more feature-dense but smaller unit for your console.

Is the Larger Screen Size of the HELIX 10 Worth the Cost?

This is the subjective portion of our comparison - the answer is “it depends”. The things it depends on include:

  • How much money you have to spend on fishing equipment
  • Whether the money you save on the HELIX 10 could improve your setup in other ways
  • The size of your vessel
  • Your needs

The HELIX 10 costs about $500 more than the HELIX 9. That $500 is well worth it (to us) if you don’t already have a fish finder with a large display. On the other hand, that $500 could buy you a new transducer or could help you convert an existing fish finder into an ice fish finder. Without knowing your needs, it’s hard to give a concrete answer, but we do prefer the HELIX 10 to the HELIX 9.

Is the Display of the HELIX 10 Better Than the HELIX 9?

Yes - in more ways than one. As we’ve discussed, both the size of the screen and the screen-to-body ratio of the HELIX 10 are better than the HELIX 9. That means better viewing angles, less visual clutter, and clearer, easy-to-read imaging.

Given that both of these models are most frequently used for side and down imaging, a clearer display can make a huge difference when it comes to discerning structure. And though traditional sonar is less picturesque than imaging, a larger screen can make a world of difference when it comes to target separation and actually catching fish.

The Bottom Line

There’s no such thing as “strictly better” when it comes to fish finders - and when comparing the HELIX 9 and HELIX 10, the most important thing to consider is how large you want your display to be. If you’re in for a large display, the HELIX 10 is absolutely the way to go. If you already have a large display, and you feel you could use the extra $500 for other fish-finding equipment (or whatever else floats your boat - metaphorically speaking), go with the HELIX 9.

These are both excellent models, and we highly recommend either one - depending on your needs.

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