Humminbird HELIX 5 Review
The Humminbird HELIX series has consistently created reliable fish-finding technology for anglers everywhere. The HELIX 5 has been out for almost six years now, which means that enough time has passed for us to get into each aspect of this fish finder tech’s capabilities. Now that we’ve gotten our hands on the Humminbird HELIX 5, we’re more than happy to say that this unit does what it’s meant to do: Find fish. With accurate readings, excellent down and side imaging, and optimal Dual Beam sonar performance, this is a piece of tech that offers many perks to accommodate its acceptable price tag.
- Super Bright
- High Resolution
- Side/Down Imaging
- Compact SI transducer vs HD SI transducer
|Max Depth||1500 feet|
|Transducer||XNT 9 SI 180 T|
|Frequency||Medium and High CHIRP 75/155 kHz + 130/250 kHz|
|Screen Size||5 inch|
|Imaging||350 ft. Down, 250 ft. Side|
|GPS||Internal, High Precision|
|Memory Card Slots||Micro SD|
Display and Interface
Many anglers prefer a larger screen size when it comes to their fish-finding tech. While the HELIX 5 has a smaller screen compared to other units, its 5-inch screen proves beneficial for those looking to find the best fish finder for smaller boats or kayaking. Not only is this unit easy to mount, but it won’t get in the way while you’re fishing. Small boats require you to be mindful of the space and weight around you.
This unit saves you the trouble of figuring out where you’re going to place it while thinking about your fishing tools and equipment. Because of its size, you may have to look harder when reading/identifying fish in the underwater terrain, however.
The 480 x 800 screen resolution is as basic as you can get with fish finders. Fiddling around with the color display and contour capabilities can tremendously help identify the fish and underwater structure below.
One thing that surprised us was the addition of the backlight, as it’s something we weren’t expecting for a fish finder of this size and price point. The backlight cuts out the glare from the sun that we’ve all experienced on fish finder screens from other manufacturers, which is a bonus for those wanting to hit the water on a beautiful sunny day.
Sure, the screen is smaller in size, but there’s not much else we can nitpick here. The interface is simple and easy to use, which is not necessarily a bad thing. We find that simplicity works best with fish finders, and the HELIX 5 certainly provides that.
The Humminbird HELIX 5 comes with both Dual Beam and CHIRP digital sonar. Most models in the HELIX series come with these sonar capabilities, but why is it important? The CHIRP digital sonar includes a powerful transducer that allows anglers the benefit of differentiating between fish, drop-offs, and debris lying beneath the water’s surface. This will save you a tremendous amount of time as you’ll be able to identify and locate the type of fish you’re looking for. What good is a fish finder if it can’t find you any fish?
The Dual Beam provides clear imaging for your down/side imaging needs. This unit gives you more control over what kind of image you want to create due to the sonar waves you’re spreading out.
With Dual Beam, you can cover a larger area of water in a shorter amount of time if you aren’t too worried about a specific fishing location. However, if you’re looking to fish in a particular area, you can use a narrower beam to receive a clearer image of said location.
If you want the sonar accuracy that we’ve found with other Humminbird fish finders, you can’t go wrong with the HELIX 5. It offers a scope of possibilities from temperature probing that alerts anglers about the water temperature to increased scanning ranges.
The HELIX series is known for its mapping options, and the HELIX 5 is no exception. The high-precision, internal GPS provides accurate readings, and you can use this unit to set many different waypoints or routes.
The Humminbird Basemap comes loaded with over 10,000 inland lakes and a complete U.S. coastal map. These maps can provide you with a clear view of the underwater terrain, as well as identify markers, hazards, and other navigation aids with a reliable icon system.
If you want more control over your own maps, you’ll have a blast with the AutoChart Live feature, which allows you to make the most out of your GPS. The AutoChart uses your transducer to establish the depth contours of your location. You can create maps of the underwater terrain, save them for future use, and share it with other fellow anglers.
However, the GPS in the Humminbird HELIX 5 doesn’t come with much storage space, so you’ll be limited to what you can save. You may have the option to sync the 2500 waypoints and 45 routes with the AutoChart Live feature, but it comes with an additional cost to download the maps. You’ll also have access to LakeMaster as it allows you to use satellite imaging that assists with finding prime spots with plenty of fish. While this feature is great for fishing purposes, it also comes with a premium cost that we feel is best suited for a unit with a bigger screen.
The unfortunate part about this unit is that it offers very little for those looking at networking features. In recent years, most anglers have preferred fish finders with networking possibilities, but that addition comes with a higher price point.
The HELIX 5 is not compatible with any smartphone devices, which means you won’t be able to use your mobile phone in tangent with your fish finder. While this may be a deal breaker for the tech aficionados out there, the simplicity of this unit can prove ideal. You don’t have to worry about staying connected to Wi-Fi as long as you have the proper maps downloaded.
For your down and side imaging needs, we believe the Humminbird HELIX 5 has you covered. The side imaging feature allows you to scan the water surrounding your boat and helps identify whether the fish are closer to the surface.
However, we will admit that the side imaging is not as accurate as down imaging, and since you’re working with a 5-inch screen, it can be tricky to see what’s going on beneath the water. Then again, most fish finder units that include down or side imaging tend to be pricier, so you’re still getting more bang for your buck.
The down imaging on this device provides accuracy and an extensive water depth that you can’t find on most other fish finder units. Most other units can’t provide accurate water depth readings. Luckily, the HELIX 5 has a max depth of 1500 feet, but with most down imaging fish finders, they start to lose accuracy around 250 feet. While the down imaging may not be as reliable in deeper water, this cost-effective model can yield positive results in terms of imaging capabilities.
One of the most notable features of the HELIX 5 is SmartStrike. With SmartStrike, your GPS will collect mapping data based on the season you’re fishing in, the location, the weather you’re experiencing, and the type of fish found in the water. It will analyze these conditions and help you find the appropriate lake to fish in. Of all the mapping and GPS features, this one may require a little know-how to operate, and it may also include a premium price if your lake isn’t available with chart plotting technology.
The features don’t stop there. The SwitchFire feature on the Humminbird HELIX 5 allows you the possibility of customizing your sonar tech. This may require playing around with the sonar frequencies. This feature includes two modes: Max and clear. With max mode, your sonar can be spread wide to scan larger areas of water, whereas clear mode focuses on specific targets in areas you’re looking to fish in. You can also use color-coded systems to identify how close your targets are. For example, orange means close and blue means far. You can fully customize these settings once you’re well-acquainted with how it works.
You also have the option of mounting the HELIX 5 on your boat with ease. All you need is a new plastic gimbal mount, and you’re good to go. Mounting the device makes it easier for you to think about your fishing rod, bait, and tackle box.
We mentioned earlier that you can run LakeMaster on the HELIX 5 for more mapping options, but you can also use another alternative, such as Navionics Gold/HotMaps. Since the fish finder comes with a Micro SD card slot, you have the potential to experiment with other mapping-related SD cards.
Now that you’ve read this Humminbird HELIX 5 review, we hope you realize that while this unit is simple, it possesses a plethora of attractive features, such as its side imaging and down imaging and its excellent mapping potential. For those familiar with other Humminbird HELIX models, you may appreciate the familiarity of the design. However, if you’re looking for a significant change, the side/down imaging and fish ID tech are where this device shines.
Humminbird has always been a reliable brand and a personal favorite for us and many other anglers. Not only does it act as a portable fish finder, but it comes loaded with excellent features that we can’t say no to. If you can set aside the small screen and want a fish finder that will save you some money, this is a perfect option.