I remember when I used to cruise around the Indian Ocean looking for big fish like the sailfish and marlin without a fish finder and GPS.
I didn’t know I was fishing blind until the day I skippered a boat with a fish finder and GPS like the Humminbird Helix 9.
Wow! It made such a huge difference to my fishing and the way I tactically planned my next fishing day that I had to get one.
Being able to see the bottom contours, depth changes, and mark spots for fishing that were productive made me understand where fish were and when, letting me pick up patterns of behavior and in the end making my days on the water far more successful.
The next day I went looking for one but there are so many models to choose from, and how would I know which model would be best for me?
Well with a lot of research, I found the Humminbird Helix 9 and stuck with that, and I have never looked back.
In this article...
Things To Think About Before Buying A Fish Finder
While most fish finders like the Humminbird Helix 9 CHIRP Mega Si make it easy to see what’s beneath the water, track your movements, and mark great fish holding areas, do you need one?
The Humminbird Helix 9 Si GPS is perfect for anyone who owns a boat, sail or motor, and likes to use them on the ocean or lakes to find more fish.
It’ll guide you around the world with the right maps installed, save you from shallow waters, help you find fish, and more.
The Humminbird Helix 9 Si GPS is not the best for kayak fishing, small boats without power, and ice or shore fishing.
A few things to remember is that you’ll need to carry around a boat battery to power it and it’s not portable. The right sounder for this kind of fishing is either a portable unit or castable sounder.
And for kayak fishing or ice fishing, you may want to consider a portable device that allows for ice fishing as well, like the ones I reviewed here.
Considering the Helix 9 Fish Finder
Here’s a list of key considerations that you should go through to be sure the Humminbird Helix 9 CHIRP Mega Si GPS is the right fish finder for you.
- Do you own a boat with power on it to connect it to?
- Which fishing areas will you use it in?
- Is the display large enough for you to see?
- Does it penetrate deep enough?
- Which ocean and freshwater charts are compatible with it?
- Is it waterproof and durable?
- Does it have a temperature sensor?
- Does it have any software or connection issues in the reviews?
- What types of sonar imaging does it have and what’s the imaging range?
- Is a transducer included and what frequencies does it use?
- How do you mount the transducer and is it easy to install?
- Is the GPS capabilities accurate and does it come with a good basemap?
- Is it easy to use the features and intuitive to navigate around?
Awesome fish finder and GPS chart plotter all rolled into one unit. You can mark fishing spots, see your speed, track your location, see the heading, and more.
The Humminbird Helix 9 Overview
The Helix 9 is an awesome fish finder and GPS chart plotter all rolled into one unit. It’s GPS lets you navigate with confidence using the built-in base map that covers the US coast and over 10,000 lakes.
You can mark fishing spots, see your speed, track your location, see your heading, and more.
It also features awesome sonar technology to give you amazingly clear images of what’s beneath the surface on the crystal clear 9-inch display.
You can look to the side, focus on the bottom, and cruise with confidence while CHIRP sonar shows you everything up to 3000ft. — that’s more than enough depth for a fish finder and you might even find strange sea creatures with it.
The Humminbird Helix 9 comes in a range of models all of which include a transducer, except for the CHO model (control head only) that gives you the option to pick your own transducer and other functional accessories.
The helix models all include CHIRP and GPS capabilities but differ in price based on their extra sonar unique features.
The Humminbird Helix 9 CHIRP Di model comes with mega down imaging sonar and the Humminbird Helix 9 CHIRP Mega Si comes with mega down and side imaging plus 360 imaging.
The Mega Imaging Plus is a great feature to have in a fish finder. You’ll know what’s happening around and beneath you.
If you’re a casual fisherman with a boat, the standard Helix 9 is enough, but if you really want to see all the details of what’s below or are pro fishermen, it’s worth going for the Di or Si to have the Mega Imaging Plus feature.
- Crystal clear color display screen you can split-screen into 3 views
- Detailed images of depths to 3000ft
- Excellent sonar technology for seeing accurate images
- Features Full Mode where you can adjust the pulse within the range
- Accurate GPS with a great basemap
- Durable and waterproof build
- 2-year warranty
- Has great networking features and connectivity for sharing, adding, or moving data
- Make maps of your fishing area
- Easy to add maps like Navionics
- Connects to autopilot and radar
- Dual Spectrum CHIRP
- A little hard to understand how to use, to begin with
Features & Benefits
The Helix 9 has one of the best displays of all fish finders on the market.
Firstly it’s quite a large 9-inch great display screen making it very easy to see what’s going on. Other fish finders only come with a 4-inch display or a 5-inch display such as the Helix 5, so the Helix 9 is miles ahead with its screen.
The screen is in color and in HD to give you exceptionally clear images when using the sonar information.
It gives excellent target separation on the 9-inch screen size display so you can determine what’s the bottom, debris, or fish. If you’re still unsure about it, read this article on choosing a screen size for your use case.
The only downside of this display is that it does not feature any touchscreen technology and you have to control everything using the side panel buttons.
Easy To Read
The 9-inch display is also glass bonded with 400 x 800 pixel and a 1500 nit resolution that keeps it bright and readable.
Being glass bonded also makes it resistant to glare so you can read it in direct sunlight and adds some extra durability.
The display screen can also be split into 3 to provide a means to see a GPS screen and two sounder screens on the display at once.
This gives you all the best fishing data all at once so you can see what’s beneath, where you are, and plan your best fishing tactics accordingly.
Every model of the Helix 9 comes with a built-in GPS that shows you where you are, where you’re going and where you’ve been on the base map.
In addition to this, it’ll let you know your heading, add up to 2750 waypoints and program up to 45 different routes.
Fish finder/GPS combos are a great option for the budget oriented and I’ve reviewed other models here.
The base map covers 10,000 US lakes and the US coastline.
It is quite detailed showing you buoys, marinas, hazards, points of interest, depth contours, depth markers, and more.
It’s enough to get going with and you have the option to add Navionics, LakeMaster, and CoastMaster maps if you want more detail or prefer them.
The memory of the GPS runs on two SD card slots.
The SD card slots accept microSD’s up to 32 MB, giving you up to 64MB of memory. They are great for adding maps and other data as well as for saving all your data.
Every Helix 9 comes with AutoChart Live that allows you to create maps, in real-time, of your fishing spots.
This means you can hit the record button and the unit will record the data, save it and map it while you watch so you can save the details for a later date and add it to your chart.
AutoChart uses your transducer to establish the depth contours and other features, like vegetation and bottom hardness of your surroundings.
Power, Depth, And Frequencies
All the Helix 9 models come with the standard amount of power you’d find in other similar fish finders with 500 W and peak-by-peak of 4,000W.
This is more than enough power to penetrate to a large depth of 1200-3000ft so it has you covered from lakes to way offshore. You might even find some deep-sea creatures with it, like the macropinna microstoma also known as the barreleye fish.
The sonar runs on multiple frequencies depending on the mode it’s in, I discuss this more below. It has a range of 50/83/200/455/800/1200 kHz which is very comprehensive.
The reason this is important is that low frequencies go deep without much shallow detail, and high frequencies stay shallow and give a lot of detail.
A 50 kHz wave will hit a depth of 3000ft but not pick up much detail and a 1200 kHz wave will only get to a depth of 60 ft but show loads of detail within that 60 ft.
When used in combination or separately, like with the Helix 9, you can see the deep detail and the shallow detail all at once for a full picture of what’s beneath.
Every Helix 9 model features CHIRP imaging and it’s the best fishing sonar around for use while you’re trolling.
CHIRP imaging works by sending out multiple frequencies at the same time penetrating to the bottom to give you accurate doeth readings but also staying shallow to give you the details of any fish or debris in the water.
CHIRP sonar gives you the fullest picture possible for general use and is ideal for when you’re exploring and looking for fishing areas.
Find out more about Humminbird CHIRP technology in the video below…
Dual Beam SwitchFire
All the Helix 9 models also come with Dual Beam SwitchFire sonar that lets you switch very easily between using 83 kHz (wide mode) for covering more area or using 200 kHz (narrow mode) to focus on small details.
The wide mode allows you to scan larger areas and when you find something interesting, switch into narrow mode for more details to find out if there is anything worth fishing for down there.
The Wide and Narrow Modes are fixed. However, in the Full Mode, you can adjust the pulse within the range.
Dual Beam Plus
DualBeam shows you fish and the bottom. DualBeam Plus lets you combine the two beams for even more fish finder sonar detail.
Use DualBeam PLUS in clear mode when wanting to filter out agitation, background noise or particles in shallow water at depths of eight feet or less. Max mode is designed for surveying fish in deeper waters and also displays underwater structures, currents and thermoclines.
Another great feature of this Humminbird fish finder unit is down imaging.
Not all Helix 9 models come with down imaging, only the CHIRP MEGA Di and CHIRP MEGA Si models feature it.
Down imaging allows you to focus a sonar beam up to a depth of 200 ft to see what’s really down there in a lot of detail:
Is it a fish worth catching?
A structure worth marking for next time?
Or nothing at all?
Down imaging will let you know.
Down imaging is exceptionally useful for bottom fishing and bass fishing as you can find fishing hot spots with ease, so make sure you get a model with it if this sounds like something you’d find useful.
Side imaging is like down imaging but even cooler.
Instead of scanning down, it scans to the side, up to 200 feet on either side of your boat. With side imaging features you can even see fish in water you haven’t disturbed yet and decided where to throw a cast to whether to troll over there.
Side Imaging will truly make your time on the water even more efficient, as you won’t spend time in dead areas you might have thought looked fishy before side-scan came into your life and showed you they weren’t.
It only features on the SI unit, but it’s an awesome feature to have.
Side Imaging is one of the important features I want to get, I’d even spend the extra cash without asking my wife.
The ability to see a cruising marlin 100ft to the left in the water, get in front of it, and then make it want to eat is something is one of the best features I could think of having out on the water.
If you’re considering another unit, you should check out the Humminbird 999ci as it’s a great combo unit with side imaging.
What Others Are Saying…
I have been scouring the internet looking at every Humminbird Helix 9 review and almost every review I laid my eyes on was positive, which goes to show just how great one of these fish finders is.
Alternative Fish Finders
Suits fishermen who don’t want to get every detail on what’s happening to the side of their boat and are happy just knowing what’s happening beneath.
There are of course some other similar products to review one of which is the Garmin Echomap Chirp 74Cv.
Like the Humminbird Helix 9, it does well at being both a GPS and a fish finder and it’s more affordable but is lacking quite a lot of features in comparison and comes with a smaller screen of 7 inches.
The Garmin EchoMap is a great fish finder to get for anyone that owns a boat and loves to get out on the water, and it suits fishermen who don’t want to get every detail on what’s happening to the side of their boat and are happy just knowing what’s beneath.
Here’s a summary of the differences.
The Garmin echoMAP 74cv is:
If you’re looking for something a little more affordable and don’t mind losing out on some of the Helix 9 features, the Garmin echoMAP 74cv is worth having a look at.
Here’s a summary of the differences
- More affordable
- Comes with blueChart® G2 coastal maps preloaded
- Has a smaller screen
- Lacking side imaging, Bluetooth connectivity, and wifi connectivity
- Unable to connect to your phone for notifications
A more affordable sounder/GPS combo that you can add maps to and includes CHIRP, down imaging and it’ll draw maps for you like the Helix 9.
The Lowrance HOOK Reveal 7 SplitShot is another fish finder that’s worth a review before buying the Helix 9.
Again it’s a more affordable sounder/GPS combo that you can add maps to and includes CHIRP, down imaging and it’ll draw maps for you like the Helix 9.
The screen is a little smaller and you don’t get some sonar technology like switchfire or side imaging.
It’s a good sounder to get for lake and even ocean fishing, and it’ll give you most of the data you could want on the water, apart from what’s to the side of your boat.
Plus you can’t connect it wirelessly to anything like your phone and if something went wrong, It is also worth noting that Lowrance customer service is hard to get hold of.
Here’s a summary of the differences.
The Lowrance HOOK Reveal 7 SplitShot:
- Is more affordable
- Comes with a smaller display
- Doesn’t include side scanning
- Doesn’t have wireless connectivity
- Has poor customer service
A good fish finder to get if you’re on a budget or already have a chart plotter.
If you’re on quite a tight budget or already own a chart plotter, then a review of the Garmin Striker Plus 7Cv before you buy the Helix 9 is worthwhile.
It’s over half the price of the Helix 9 but it can’t use maps like the Helix, so you can’t see any charts on it.
You can still use the GPS function though and mark waypoints, plus the sounder is very accurate. The display is smaller than the Helix 9, and it doesn’t have the ability to do side scanning.
The Garmin Striker Plus 7Cv is a good fish finder to get if you’re on a budget or already have a chart plotter.
It could even be useful if you fish in a small area that you know well enough to not need detailed maps and all you want is to know what’s under the water.
Here’s a summary of the differences.
The Garmin Striker Plus 7Cv:
- Accurate sounder
- Has GPS and can mark waypoints
- Has a smaller display
- Has no wireless connectivity
- Can’t use maps or charts
- Doesn’t come with side scan
- Doesn’t go as deep as the Helix 9
The Humminbird Helix 9 is a comprehensive series of chart plotting fish finders that are amazing at what they do.
Across the range, you can find every feature you could ever want to get for fishing – they can even drive your boat for you.
It offers every kind of sonar imaging out there, has dual spectrum chirp for maximum coverage and for maximum detail, has awesome maps, an accurate chart plotter, is simple to use, and the display is as crystal clear as can be. It has the same size screen as the Lowrance Elite 9 Ti which we reviewed here.
You’ll never struggle to find more fish ever again with one of these fish finders, and you can pick the unit that suits your budget or your needs best.
If you think the Helix 9 is too much for your needs, take a look at the Humminbird Helix 7. It’s a fishfinder GPS unit for finding fish in and navigating around large areas.
Hope it Helps!
I hope having read this Humminbird Helix 9 review you have been convinced of its reliability and accuracy.
Owning a sounder and chart plotter combo does change the game, but owning a Humminbird Helix turns catching big fish even further in your favor than most others thanks to its amazing accuracy and feature set.
Please feel free to share this article around with your boating buddies, and if you’re not convinced by the Helix 9 we have a few other articles for you like ‘Best Garmin Fish Finder Reviews’ and ‘The Lowrance Best Fish Finders’ where you’ll find detailed reviews of loads of similar fish finders.