- Easy to read display
- Excellent basemap included
- Accurate GPS for navigation
If you fish on large bodies of water like the ocean or the great lakes, you know how hard fish can be to find.
With so much space to roam around and hide in, it can take you hours, even days, to get a read on them.
One piece of equipment that is going to help you discover where the fish are a little quicker is a fish finder GPS unit like the Helix 7.
With the Helix 7, you’ll have access to charts of your fishing area showing you all the depth contours, a GPS to help you navigate them, plus awesome sonar that’ll show you what’s lurking underneath and even to the side of your boat.
There really will be nowhere left for the fish to hide.
Things to consider before buying the Humminbird Helix 7
The Helix 7 fish finders take away any guesswork when you’re fishing.
Using the GPS you’ll be able to see where you have been, where you’re going, and mark any great fishing spots along the way to return to another day, all on up-to-date charts of your fishing area.
Not only does the Helix 7 fish finder help you navigate around but it also shows you everything that’s under your boat, from a school of fish to a fallen tree, using sonar technology.
You have the option to use CHIRP while cruising, CHIRP SI for side imaging, and CHIRP DI G2 for detailed scans of the bottom.
With this kind of sonar at your fingertips, you’ll be able to know if there is anything for fishing for wherever your boat is.
Who should own a Humminbird Helix 7?
If you fish on a vessel with onboard power in large lakes, rivers, or in the sea, then this fish finder is a perfect fit for you.
You’ll be able to navigate your boat using the GPS and charts to Hawaii if you want to and use the sonar to see all the fish along the way.
Who shouldn’t own a Humminbird Helix 7?
If you use a small boat or kayak without an onboard power system, like some 12 V batteries, then this is not the fish finder for you, as it needs the batteries in order to function.
You’d be better off going for a unit like the Garmin Striker 4 PT that is fully portable with sonar, GPS, and its own battery pack.
Does the Humminbird Helix 7 have GPS?
Yes, it has GPS capabilities that give you an accurate position of your vessel down to 20 meters.
It’s perfect for navigating your fishing grounds and marking useful spots where fish like to hide, or where it is safe to anchor.
Does the Helix 7 come with a transducer?
Yes, every model of the Helix 7 comes with a transducer as standard.
The Helix 7 transducer model varies according to the Helix 7 model you choose, to ensure that all the sonar features are serviced by it.
Do all Humminbird Helix 7’s come with side imaging?
No, only the most expensive units come with side imaging (SI) and you can quickly tell which of the fish finders include it as SI will be in the model name.
For example, a Helix 7 CHIRP SI GPS includes side imaging, whereas a CHIRP DI G2 model does not.
Is side imaging worth paying a bit more for?
This depends on where and what you’re fishing for.
You can get by without it, but I would enjoy having side imagining.
Knowing if there are any fish 125ft to either side of my boat might show me a sailfish or a marlin that is worth changing direction for and catching.
The same goes when looking for schools of baitfish in a lake.
Helix 7 CHIRP Overview
A Helix 7 is the perfect fishfinder GPS unit for finding fish in and navigating around large areas.
It gives you your pinpoint GPS location on a chart that you can follow to find fish, shows you pictures of what fish are near your boat, and a whole lot more.
Helix 7 fish finders can come full of features depending on what you want from the fish finder. The main features on offer include CHIRP, GPS, Charts, Down Imaging, and Side Imaging, but not every model has them all.
Helix 7 CHIRP Models
The Helix 7 models are easy to understand, as their core features are displayed in the titles, making it easy to select the right one for you.
A Humminbird Helix 7 CHIRP SI GPS combo comes with GPS, charts, CHIRP sonar, down imaging, and side imaging.
A Humminbird Helix 7 Di GPS comes with CHIRP, GPS, charts, and down imaging.
And the Humminbird Helix 7 Ice comes with CHIRP, GPS, charts, and a flasher for ice fishing.
Helix 7 CHIRP Generations
The Helix 7 has been upgraded in its lifetime and the older models, like the Humminbird Helix 7 CHIRP SI GPS G2 combo, Helix 7 KVD G2, or CHIRP DI G2 are denoted with the G2 symbol, meaning ‘Generation 2’.
Whereas the new models have G3 in the name and sometimes G3N which stands for ‘Generation 3 Networked’.
With a Helix 7 G3N model you get a fully networked unit that comes with ethernet ports, Bluetooth, and NMEA ports, so you can create one boat network by linking fish finders, connecting your engines to the unit, and connecting the unit to your smartphone.
Which model suits you best?
Only you have the answer to this question and it’s worth thinking about the features you want from your fishfinder.
They cover everything from simple CHIRP GPS units to the full shebang that includes all the sonar imaging features along with networking capabilities.
At a minimum, I’d recommend going to at least a CHIRP DI G2 or G3 unit.
You’ll have the charts and GPS features along with CHIRP sonar for cruising and Down imaging for looking at serious details of any fishing areas you find.
If you own a 60 ft sport fisher, going for the CHIRP SI GPS G3N unit is recommended as you have access to side imaging for finding elusive fish like marlin, be able to network and monitor the engines from the unit.
Plus you’ll have access to additional features like CHIRP radar, AutoPilot, and more that are only useful or larger vessels going large distances in the ocean.
- A range of models to suit your fishfinder needs
- Crystal clear, easy to read display
- Excellent sonar features that give a detailed image
- Accurate GPS for navigation
- Comes with an excellent basemap included
- Add your own charts like Navionics and LakeMaster
- Create your own maps using AutoChart Live
- Use the One-Boat-Network to wirelessly control trolling motors and more
- Update the software and communicate with customer service wirelessly with Bluetooth
- Use Bluetooth to get smartphone notification on the fish finders display
- Convert any model into an ICE model with the conversion kit
- Can be a little complicated to understand all the features
Features & Benefits – What does the Helix 7 really have to offer?
Can You Use And Read The Display?
The display of fish finders is one of the most important things
Not only do you use it to see your charts, GPS, and sonar imaging, but it also holds all the buttons to navigate through and select all the features.
The Helix 7 comes with a 7-inch display which is about the average size for fish finders and is large enough to see all the feature details on.
You can also split it into two screens and watch say Down Imaging and Side Imaging at the same time, or GPS and CHIRP.
Contrast & Resolution
Fish finders also need screens that you can read in direct sunlight and to do so need to have good resolution and contrast.
The Helix 7 display gives you excellent contrast and resolution with a pixel matrix of 800H x 480V. You can read in all light conditions and from almost any angle.
On the top right-hand side of the Helix 7 display is a keypad holding all the buttons you’ll use to navigate through the software.
You have a menu button to access the internal menu, an arrow pad to navigate around plus a ‘tick’ and exit button to confirm your selection.
In addition to this, there’s plus + and minus – keys for zooming in and out, a mark button for quickly marking a waypoint, a view button to quickly change what you’re seeing to other features, and a Go-To button for inputting where you’d like the GPS to direct you to.
It has a great keypad layout overall, with all the right buttons so you can access and change things around easily.
Humminbird Helix 7 Cover & Durability
All the displays come with a cover to protect them for durability and are waterproof to IPX7, so they can survive being submerged at 1 meter for 30 minutes. More than enough to deal with any splashes
Are the maps any good?
The Helix 7 comes with Humminbird’s own Basemap.
The basemap is far more detailed than any other fishfinder manufacture such as Lowrance or Garmin and comes on every unit like the Helix 5 or lesser.
The Basemap includes charts of over 10,000 US lakes and coastal coverage of the US coastline.
On it, you’ll see a clear image of the underwater terrain, plus any hazards, buoys, day markers, and hazards to avoid.
In addition to this, you’ll have the depth markers and contours, everything you need to navigate with confidence using the GPS to follow yourself around.
Are other maps compatible?
Yes, both Lake Master and Navionics are compatible with the Helix 7.
Lake Master is ideal for any freshwater fishermen as it covers over 10,000 us and Canadian lakes in a lot of detail but it has no ocean coverage.
Navionics covers 21,000 US and Canadian lakes plus coastal coverage of all of North America, making it better for sea fishermen and for anyone who uses their boat in both fresh and saltwater.
How useful is the Humminbird helix 7 sonar GPS?
The GPS system on the Helix 7 is the same as in the Helix 5, and the GPS isn’t just there to help you see where you’re going, it offers a lot more.
With the GPS you can plan routes and it’ll show exactly where to drive, how fast you’re going, and how long it might take to get there.
You can also see your tacks on the GPS, so you know where you’ve been, a handy feature for following a route to the dock or to fish an area where you caught fish again.
The GPS also lets you mark waypoints, so you can save fishing spots onto the system and drive straight back to them the next time you’re out fishing.
Another great fishing tool the GPS gives you is your boat speed. Marlin like fast-moving lures and need 7-8 knots to get excited, whereas sailfish prefer 5-6 knots, how would you know your speed without a GPS?
The GPS will tell you if you’re going 5 knots or 8 knots, for example, letting you get the right speed for the fish you want to catch or the lures you’re pulling.
Understanding the Humminbird Helix 7 Sonar Features
I already mentioned in the section above that different Helix 7 models have different sonar features, depending on if you get the Helix 7 CHIRP, Helix 7 CHIRP DI, Ice Helix 7 CHIRP, or Helix 7 CHIRP with SI.
To help you pick the right Helix 7 CHIRP model, below I’m going to explain about each of the features, what water depth they go to, and why they are useful.
How Does CHIRP Sonar Work?
Every Helix 7 is a Helix 7 CHIRP model and it’s the basis for all the sonar features. CHIRP works by sending out multiple frequency sonar waves simultaneously, and this is important if you want a detailed picture of the full water column.
Low-frequency sonar waves penetrate deep to the bottom and pick up a bit of detail on the way.
High-frequency sonar waves get absorbed by the water but pick up a lot of detail on the way. So the higher the sonar wave the more detail it picks up, and the lower the wave, the deeper it goes.
CHIRP sends out a spectrum of waves at the same time between 80 and 220 kHz and takes readings from all of them.
It goes to a water depth of 1200ft while picking up all the details in between 1200ft and the deck of your boat to show you everything that is in the water column.
CHIRP is the most useful sonar feature, hence every Helix 7 is a Helix 7 CHIRP.
It is perfect for use when trolling or searching for areas to fish around, as it gives you the fullest picture of the entire water column possible.
You’ll be able to spot schools of fish, interesting underwater features like pinnacles or canyons, plus see things like fallen trees where fish might hide.
What is Down Imaging?
Down imaging sonar is another form of CHIRP and is featured on models with DI in the name, like Helix 7 CHIRP DI G2.
Down imaging works by sending out only high-frequency sonar waves between 440-500 kHz.
This means that down imaging doesn’t go to the same depths as CHIRP but it picks up a lot more detail and is useful when you want to take a closer look at what’s under your boat.
Down Imaging goes to a depth of 480 ft, so if you want to see a more detailed image of a pinnacle at 200ft, you can switch to down imaging mode to see what fish are sitting around it and where.
Mega Down Imaging
Unlike the Helix 5, some of the Helix 7 models come with Mega Down Imaging (Mega DI) which takes things to another level in terms of detail.
Mega Down Imaging uses sonar waves between 1075-1150 kHz, a lot higher than normal down imaging to give you an almost picture-like image with up to 3 times more details than normal down imaging.
Mega DI Function
Mega down imaging comes in useful when you’re analyzing a fishing spot, or trying to target a specific species, as the extra details it shows allows you to see a lot more of what’s down there, so you can plan your fishing accordingly.
Mega down imaging only hits 125 ft though, so you can look at anything beneath you in serious detail down to that depth, but nothing further.
What is Side Imaging?
CHIRP side imaging is the exact same as down imaging except the sonar beams go to the side of your boat instead of straight down.
Side imaging uses the exact same sonar waves as down imaging and lets you see what fish or structure lie 240 ft on either side of your boat.
Side Imaging Function
Side imaging is particularly useful when looking for schooling baitfish that keep moving or large hard to find species like marlin.
Some of the helix 7 models also come with Mega Side Imaging, which like Mega DI, gives you even more detail than normal side imaging.
The range is smaller though, and only goes to 125 ft, but it’ll show 3 times more detail.
How to use SwitchFire Mode
Once you’re using the sonar features, you can choose how you want the returns to appear on your screen using Switchfire.
It has two display modes that let you add and remove detail, account for depth, temperature, and turbulence, and you can even watch your lures with it.
Using SwitchFire Mode
You can turn Switchfire on at the press of a button, and being able to add and remove detail, account for depth, temperature, and turbulence means you can clean up the sonar image, and see only what you need to, without any distractions.
This means you can home in on fish only, fish and structure, or fish, structure and the bottom, it’s up to you.
Helix 7 ice fishing conversion kit
All of the Helix 7 models can be converted to ice fishing units using the ice conversion kit, making them perfect for use when the lakes are frozen or unfrozen.
With the conversion kit, you get a bag for the display, an ice transducer with a float, mounting for the display, plus all the cables needed to rig it up.
It does not come with a battery or charger though, and you’ll have to buy these separately to power the unit while you’re ice fishing.
Be aware that not all the sonar features will work with the conversion kit. You still have GPS, the charts, and CHIRP, but down and side imaging is not supported by the ice transducer.
What do owners of the Helix 7 Think?
The Helix 7 is a popular unit thanks to its range of features from GPS to side imaging to models from the CHIRP DI G2 to the CHIRP Mega SI GPS G3N, but what do the fishermen using them think about them?
Here are some customer reviews I found for you to take a look at.
Are there better similar fishfinders out there?
A similarly priced unit with similar features, but there are some differences.
The Dragonfly Pro 7 is a similarly priced unit with similar features, but there are some differences.
Overall, the Helix 7 has more features and goes to deeper depths than the Pro 7.
The only thing you can’t do with the Helix 7 is control it from your phone.
Here are the differences…
- The Pro 7 lets you control the unit from your smartphone unlike the Helix 7
- The Helix 7 goes to 1200ft, the Pro 7 only goes to 900ft
- The Helix 7 comes with side imaging as an option
- The Pro 7 has no similar features to Switchfire.
A more affordable option than the Helix 7 and has, give or take a few, the same feature set.
The Striker 7 SV is a more affordable option than the Helix 7 and has, give or take a few, the same feature set.
If you’re looking for something more affordable, the Striker 7 is a great choice.
You get all the same features bar Switchfire, you can see deeper depths in freshwater by 1100ft, and you get access to Garmin’s Active Captain app so you can see other people’s data of your fishing area and share yours too.
Here are the differences…
- The Striker 7 is compatible with the ActiveCaptain app for sharing sonar data with others
- The 7 SV goes to deeper depths in freshwater to 2,300 ft
- The 7 SV has no equivalent features to Switchfire
- Down Imaging isn’t as deep on the 7SV
A bit more expensive than the Helix 7, mainly due to the touchscreen display but there are also extra features you get with the bump up in price
The Elite 7 Ti is quite a bit more expensive than the Helix 7, and this is mainly due to the touchscreen display but there are also extra features you get with the bump up in price.
The Elite 7 Ti is a better unit than the Helix 7 but is it worth the extra cash? In my eyes, features like TrackBack and StructureScan are exceptionally useful if you have the time to look deep into the sonar details like a full-time captain would.
For a leisure fisherman, these features, while great, are probably a bit time-consuming to lose your mind in on the weekend.
Here are the differences…
- The 7 Ti comes with a touchscreen display
- The 7 Ti comes with a TrackBack feature that records sonar history for you to review later
- The 7 Ti has StructureScan, a feature that merges down and side imaging into one image for a view of what’s around your boat
- You can control the 7 Ti with your smartphone
- The 7 Ti has no comparable feature to SwitchFire on the Helix 7
Thanks for reading my review of the Helix 7, I hope you found it useful and now know everything the units have to offer.
They are great fish finders and come with all the features anyone needs to navigate, use charts, and know exactly what’s lurking beneath the surface.
If you enjoyed the article, please check out some of my others.
I cover everything from ice flashers to fishing books, and most of what’s in-between.