Humminbird Helix 5

Humminbird Helix 5 2021 Review (An In-Depth Buyer’s Guide)

Lance Wilkins
Lance Wilkins
Editor @ CallOutdoors. Outdoor gear-head and adventure addict. I fish, camp and enjoy to writing about my adventures.

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Humminbird HELIX 5 CHIRP SI GPS G2

Depending on the unit you choose, you can have access to all kinds of features from a built-in GPS and charts to CHIRP, Down Imaging, Side Imaging, and even a flasher if you’re more of an ice fisher.

Pros

  • Accurate GPS
  • Great maximum depth
  • Excellent range of sonar capabilities

The key to your fishing success is having a fish finder on board your vessel, whether it’s a fishing kayak or a sport fisher.

One can only do so much trying to predict where the fish are by reading current lines or understanding where they move at certain times of the year.

A fish finder takes away the guessing game and gives you vital information on the goings-on underneath the water

Fish finders like the Humminbird Helix 5 are a great addition to your angling arsenal in terms of recon. Read on to find out if it’s the perfect fish finder for you.

Why Get A Fish Finder?

A fish finder changes the game…

You’ll be able to find areas beneath the surface that hold fish like ledges, drop-offs, and structures like fallen trees using sonar technology. With the best portable fish finders, you’ll be able to do all that with even more mobility!

You’ll be able to see if there are any possible catches sitting there and plan your fishing tactics accordingly.

Why Choose The Helix 5?

For fish finders like the Humminbird Helix 5, reviews provide a means to show you everything you need to know.

Depending on the specific set you choose, you’ll be able to see what’s lurking beneath your boat, to the side of it, use GPS for navigation, and follow charts of your areas while you’re fishing.

Sound like the fishing experience you want? Take a look below as we take a dive into the Helix 5…

Things To Consider Buying a Humminbird Helix 5 Series Fish Finder

Where are you going to use the unit?

The Helix 5 series come in a range of models and each unit is better for different areas and types of fishing.

There are units made for ice fishing, some with down imaging, others that only hit 600ft, some that go to 1500ft, and others that can reach 2500ft with the right transducer. It’s something to consider if you already own an ice reel setup.

TIP

Think about where you’re going to use the fish finder, how deep it is by looking at charts, and from there pick the right type of unit to match your needs.

Does the Humminbird Helix 5 Fish Finder have GPS?

Humminbird Helix 5 GPS unit operation

Not all of the units come with a GPS or GPS mapping, some are just fish finders without charts or any navigation systems.

GPS and charts are a valuable thing to have when fishing, especially in large lakes, rivers, and the ocean.

They help you navigate through bad weather, mark good fishing spots to return to later, and read the bottom contours so you can see where facets like drop-offs or pinnacles are that fish would sit near.

RECOMMENDATION

I’d highly recommend getting a unit with a chart and GPS option, but if you already have one, the option is there to get a unit without them.

Does the Humminbird Helix 5 Come With A Transducer?

Yes, every Helix 5 fishfinder option comes with an XNT 9 transom mount transducer or ice-ducer as a standard that supports the sonar frequencies of each unit.

Depending on the model, you can opt to upgrade your sonar transducer to one that covers all the unit’s frequencies so you can penetrate depths of up to 2500ft.

Does The Humminbird Helix 5 Series Have Side-Imaging?

Yes, but this is only available with the Helix 5 Si GPS unit. With the Helix 5 Si GPS unit, you’ll see detailed images of up to 200ft on either side of your vessel.

Humminbird Helix 5 Review Overview

The Humminbird Helix 5 review shows how fish finders provide a means to see exactly what is beneath your boat thanks to its range of sonar capabilities.

These Helix 5 reviews help ensure that you can see and find fish with ease, as well as any interesting characteristics like sunken trees they might like to hang out by.

Whether you’re an ice fisher, looking for bass in a lake, or searching for marlin offshore, there is a Humminbird Helix 5 deep-dive to highlight your needs.

NOTE

Depending on the unit you choose, you can have access to all kinds of features from a built-in GPS and charts to CHIRP, Down Imaging, Side Imaging, and even a flasher for ice fishing.

What’s in the box?

With every unit you will get the following; 5-inch high-resolution display screen, an XNT 9 transducer or ice-ducer, mounting bracket, screen cover, and the cables to connect them. Everything you need to install it the day it arrives, bar the screws you need to check compatibility for and buy from a hardware store.

Which Humminbird Helix 5 model is right for you?

There are 7 different Humminbird Helix 5 fish finders to choose from, and each one varies on the depth it can reach and the sonar features and additional capabilities it includes. Below I’ll run through all the available models and describe what each one comes with.

You’ll find a detailed explanation of all these in the next section below.

Helix 5 CHIRP SI GPS G2

Helix 5 CHIRP SI GPS G2
Helix 5 CHIRP SI GPS G2

This unit is the most feature-full of all the models right out of the box and is an upgrade of the Humminbird Helix 5 kvd.

It has built-in GPS mapping for navigation, charts to use and follow, and has all the sonar capabilities you could ask for.

The unit includes DualBeam Plus, CHIRP, Down Imaging, and Side Imaging, giving you a full sonar picture of what’s under your boat in all directions.

Depth

The Helix 5 CHIRP SI GPS G2 goes to a maximum depth of 1500ft with the included transducer and you can opt to pick a transducer that includes a 50 kHz frequency to get you down to 2500 ft.

It’s the ideal unit for a sport fisher or anyone who wants access to sonar to see everything that’s to the side and beneath their boat.

Helix 5 CHIRP DI GPS G2

This fish finder comes with all the same capabilities as the SI unit above, except for Side Imaging.

It includes CHIRP, a built-in GPS, charts and you can also opt to go for a better sonar transducer to hit 2500ft if you want to.

This model is a great option for ocean and lake fisherman alike who don’t see the need for side-scanning, it’s also a bit more affordable than the Si unit.

Helix 5 CHIRP GPS G2

HELIX 5 CHIRP GPS G2
HELIX 5 CHIRP GPS G2

This fish finder comes with everything except for some sonar capabilities like Down Imaging and Side Imaging. So you can look to the side of your ship with it or get a more detailed look at what’s under your boat with Down Imaging. Otherwise, it hits depths of 1500 ft, up to 2500 ft with the upgraded transducer, and has a built-in GPS with charts.

This is an excellent unit for anyone who wants to spend a bit less but still wants a GPS, charts, and detailed CHIRP sounder images.

Helix 5 DI G2

The DI G2 drops a lot of components when compared to the Si and only comes with Down Imaging and Dualbeam Plus.

There is no GPS, no charts, no CHIRP, and no Side Imaging. It hits depths of up to 600ft and there is no transducer option to increase this making it limited in areas of the sea over 600 ft.

This is a great fish finder for anyone who wants to save a few bucks but still wants access to Down Imaging sonar for detailed pictures of fish-holding areas, or already has a GPS and chart plotter already installed on their boat.

Helix 5 SONAR G2

Helix 5 SONAR G2
Helix 5 SONAR G2

The Helix 5 SONAR G2 is as basic as it gets out of the box as it doesn’t have Down Imaging or Side Imaging, just dualbeam +.

With it, you’ll be able to see detailed images down to 1500ft that will still show you structure and fish-holding areas, but you won’t get as much detail as you would with Down Imaging or CHIRP.

The Helix 5 SONAR G2 is the most affordable fish finder in the series, and this is due to the minimal capabilities.

It’s perfect for anyone who has a low budget or only needs dual-beam + sonar and doesn’t care about Down Imaging or Side Imaging to scout their fishing spots.

Ice Helix 5 CHIRP GPS G2

Ice Helix 5 CHIRP GPS G2
Ice Helix 5 CHIRP GPS G2

This fish finder comes with similar features to the Helix 5 CHIRP GPS G2 with CHIRP sonar, built-in GPS, charts, but it also has a flasher for ice fishing on it as well. It’s not as good as a dedicated ice fishing flasher, but it’ll get the job done.

It gives you detailed images down to 400ft and the GPS and charts make it easy to target specific parts of the lake where there are fishy areas like drop-offs for example and mark good fishing spots to return to later.

Ice Helix 5 CHIRP G2

If you’re an ice fisherman, this is the Helix 5 fish finder for you…

These fish finders come with all the same sonar abilities as the previous Ice Helix offering, but with no charts or built-in GPS.

You’ll still get good images down to 400ft with the CHIRP sounder and have the flasher capabilities, but you won’t be able to mark fishing spots or use charts to find good spots on a lake.

NOTE

This is an ideal fish finder for an ice fisherman who already knows his fishing area or wants to spend a little less, but still be able to use the unit to find fish.

Pros

  • Access to an excellent range of sonar features
  • A lot of models to choose from to suit your needs and budget
  • Great maximum depth of 2500ft on some models
  • Accurate sonar images across all the features
  • Large 5-inch screen size with a high-resolution display screen
  • Accurate GPS with a range of compatible chart options
  • User-friendly interface
  • Sunlight readable, waterproof display

Cons

  • No networking available like wifi, Bluetooth, or NMEA

Features & Benefits

Humminbird Helix Display: What You Will See

Humminbird Helix 5 Screen
Humminbird Helix 5 Screen

All Helix 5 models come with a 5-inch 256 color TFT landscape display that is a high-resolution display screen of 800H x 480V.

The 256 color TFT landscape display screen gives the screen excellent contrast, lightingy, and sonar image quality to ensure you can read the screen in any weather or light conditions – even direct sunlight.

The 256 color TFT landscape display screen also ensures all the color changes on the sonar image are clear and easy to read so you can decipher between fish, debris, and structure on the screen image without any worries.

Split Screen Feature

You can also split the landscape orientation display screen into two so you can see two screens at once. 

Landscape orientation is one of the display modes you can choose from so you can see your charts and GPS on one screen, and the sounder on the other.

The display screen units are also highly durable and are IPX7 waterproof rated, so any splashes that hit the display won’t cause any damage.

GPS: Keeping Track

Not every unit comes with GPS mapping, only units with GPS in the title include it like the Helix 5 Si GPS. The GPS is accurate down to 20 meters and it allows you to mark waypoints of fishing areas, moorings, harbors, or shallow water, and you can also save routes, and see the tracks of where you have fished before.

Helix 5 Sonar Features

Below are all the available Helix 5 sonar capabilities, and you will have some or all of them depending on which variation you choose, the Helix 5 Si GPS for example has all of them, and the Helix 5 Sonar only has one of them, DualBeam +.

How Does Dual Beam Plus Work?

Humminbird Dualbeam Plus
Humminbird Dual-Beam Plus

Dual-beam plus works by sending out two sonar beam frequencies, one wide-angled so you can scan a large area when looking for fish, and one narrow angled so you can focus on something that looks fishy.

You can choose to use one dual-beam plus angle at a time, both together to watch them simultaneously on the split-screen display, or merge them into a single image to give you everything in one place.

Dual-beam Plus operates at 80 and 200 kHz frequencies to give you a detailed picture of fish in shallow water with 200 kHz, and to reach a deeper water depth using 80 kHz.

How CHIRP Helps Fishermen?

CHIRP works by sending out multiple frequency sonar waves to give you the most detail possible of the water column.

It uses both high-frequency waves and low-frequency waves to pick up the details of any fish, structure, or debris at the bottom, middle, and top of the water column.

NOTE

CHIRP on the Helix 5 fish finders that include it uses all frequencies between 80 and 200 kHz to penetrate every part of the water column. It’s the best sonar feature for searching for fish as it gives the best detail.

What is Down Imaging?

Humminbird Down Imaging
Humminbird Down Imaging

Down Imaging uses high-frequency sonar waves over 200 kHz to give a super detailed image of what’s under your boat.

Down Imaging is ideal when you find something like a fallen tree or a pinnacle and want to take a good look to see if any fish are holding there.

How Far Does Down Imagine Scan?

Down Imaging scans to a maximum of 350ft, as it uses high-frequency sonar waves over 200 kHz that get absorbed by the water beyond 350ft.

What is Side Imaging?

Humminbird Side Imaging
Humminbird Side Imaging

The only Humminbird Helix 5 review products that support side imaging are the Helix 5 Si GPS units.

Side imaging sonar provides a means to see if there are fish on either side of your boat and have a range of 200ft on either side.

It’s exceptionally useful on the Helix 5 Si GPS, as you are able to see schooling baitfish or large single fish on the screen, in the water you haven’t disturbed with your engine yet.

Transducer & Mount

All the Helix 5 products come with an XNT 9 transducer, which model of compatible XNT 9 transducer depends on the model you choose.

With some units, like the Helix 5 Si GPS you can opt for Airmar CHIRP transducers that support depths of up to 2500 ft.

Each XNT 9 transducer has a transom mount for easy installation except for the Ice Helix 5 that includes a transducer you can dip into your ice hole.

Charts

Humminbird Mapping Cards
Humminbird Mapping Cards

Every Helix 5 GPS comes with Hummingbird’s detailed base map preloaded and you can choose to add other compatible charts such as Navionics, Lake Master, or Lake master Plus depending on which you prefer.

Base Map

The base map includes things to avoid and find including buoys, day markers, hazards, marinas, contours, depth markers, and more.

It also includes charts of more than 10,000 lakes, plus coastal coverage for the U.S.

Navionics

The base map is more than enough, but if you want the most detail possible go for Navionics. Adding other charts is easy, just load them up on a MicroSD and slot them in and they’ll load up with ease, if they are compatible.

TIP 

Remember: Landscape orientation allows you to see two screens at once.

AutoChart Live

All the models that have GPS come with AutoChart Live.

This technology takes the sonar imaging data and adds it to your chart on the display, creating your own detailed map of the areas you fish.

You can map depth contours, bottom hardness, and vegetation as you maneuver your ship, giving you the picture of your fishing grounds on your display.

How SwitchFire Helps?

Switch fire is featured on every fish finder series, even those with just dual beam plus. It allows you to choose between two display modes where you can add and remove detail while accounting for water depth, water temperature, turbulence, and you can even watch lures as they move around.

It makes seeing just the details you want to see a lot easier, as you can remove all the clutter that might be getting in the way, like a load of seaweed that might be hiding a school of fish on the screen.

Humminbird Helix 5 Review Accessories

There are, of course, some accessories to get along with a Helix 5. The most useful being; 1, a cover for the screen. 2, a range of transducers, mounting kits, spare cables, bracket knobs, and more.

What do customers using the Helix 5 Series think about it?

Looking at a customer review or two, these fish finders go to show how good this Humminbird series really is.

Almost all the customer reviews I could find had great things to say about these fish finders, and there are some below so you can see for yourself.

The Alternatives

It’s always wise to check out the competition when buying gear like the Helix 5, just to check if it’s the right one out there for you.

Below are some other options like the Helix 5, and to make life a bit easier, I have compared them all to the Helix 5 Si GPS G2 model for you.

Raymarine Dragonfly Pro 7

If you’re prepared to sacrifice SwitchFire, 600ft of depth penetration and side imaging for wifi, Bluetooth, and phone connectivity, then the Dragonfly Pro 7 might be a better choice for you

Raymarine Dragonfly Pro 7

The Dragonfly Pro 7 is a similar price to the Helix 5 Si and has similar capabilities including CHIRP, Down Imaging, Charts, and GPS.

If you’re prepared to sacrifice SwitchFire, 600ft of depth penetration and side imaging for wifi, Bluetooth, and being able to control the unit from your phone, then the Dragonfly Pro 7 might be a better choice for you than the Helix 5 Si.

The main differences are:

Pros

  • The Pro 7 has a larger display screen by 2 inches.
  • The Pro 7 has wireless and Bluetooth, the Helix 5 Si does not.
  • You can control and view the Pro 7 from your smartphone, unlike with the Helix 5 Si.

Cons

  • The Pro 7 hits 900ft where the Helix 5 Si goes to 1500ft.
  • The Helix 5 Si transducer has side imaging, the Pro 7 does not.
  • There is no equivalent Helix 5 Si Switchfire on the Pro 7.

Garmin Striker 7SV

Overall similar to the Helix 5, and if you would rather have wifi and a flasher over the Helix 5 offerings, then it’s a better choice.

Garmin Striker 7SV

The Striker 7SV comes with CHIRP, Down Imaging, Side Imaging, GPS, and charts just like the Helix 5 Si and is about the same price.

As you can see, the Striker 7 SV transducer has a few more features than the Helix 5 reviews, but it doesn’t have Dual-beam sonar or reach as deep depths with Down Imaging as the Helix 5.

Overall they are similar units, and if you would rather have wifi and a flasher over the Helix 5 offerings, then it’s a better choice.

There are a few differences though, and here they are:

Pros

  • The Striker 7 has a large screen display by 2 inches
  • The Striker 7 comes with WiFi for smartphone notifications
  • The Striker 7 is compatible with the ActiveCaptain app for sharing sonar data with others
  • The 7 SV goes to deeper depths of 2,300 ft in freshwater and 1,100 ft in saltwater
  • The 7 SV has a built-in flasher for vertical fishing

Cons

  • The 7 SV has no equivalent to Switchfire
  • Down Imaging isn’t as deep on the 7SV
  • There is no Dual-beam on the 7SV

Lowrance Elite 7 Ti

A better device than the Helix 5 Si, but it’s almost twice the price. So if you have the cash to spend on the extra capabilities, it’s worth going for the Elite 7 Ti.

Lowrance Elite 7 Ti

The Lowrance Elite 7 Ti is quite similar to the Helix 5 reviewed above when it comes to the sonar side of things but comes with quite a few more bonuses, for a lot more money.

The Elite 7 Ti is a better fish finder than the Helix 5 Si, but it’s almost twice the price. So if you have the cash to spend on the extra capabilities and marginally better sonar, it’s worth going for the Elite 7 Ti from Lowrance.

If you don’t want to spend that much but need those Lowrance techs, it’s worth considering the Lowrance Elite 5 Ti.

But bear in mind, Lowrance as a brand doesn’t have the best customer service, so if something goes wrong, they might be hard to get hold of.

Here are the differences:

Pros

  • The Elite 7 Ti has a touch screen display that’s 2 inches larger
  • The Elite 7 Ti has wifi and Bluetooth
  • You can view the screen display on your smartphone and control the Elite 7 Ti
  • The Elite 7 Ti has StructureScan to give you a combined screen display of side and down imaging at once
  • The Elite 7 Ti records sonar history so you can go back and review it

Summing Up

Thanks for reading my Humminbird Helix 5 review and I hope you found it useful.

This Helix 5 review shows just how diverse the series of Helix 5 sounders are, and within all the models you’ll be able to find a variation that matches your budget and your needs.

Hummingbird is a reliable brand with good customer service and I would highly recommend splashing out for the Helix 5 Si GPS G2 type option as it’s almost the most affordable unit with Side imaging included, plus it has everything you need to find fish anywhere in the world.

Sounding Out

Thanks again for reading and please feel free to share this Helix 5 review with your fishing buddies.

If you’re looking for another Humminbird model or you need some other features, you can read our detailed review of the Helix 9. The Helix 9 has tons of great features that you will surely love.

Also, check out some of my other articles for any new fishing gear you need, I have reviewed most types of gear from ice flashers to weighing scales and even fishing kayaks.

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Lance Wilkins
Lance Wilkins
Editor @ CallOutdoors. Outdoor gear-head and adventure addict. I fish, camp and enjoy to writing about my adventures.
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