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Humminbird HELIX 5 SI GPS

ProductDisplay SizeSonarDepthGPSCartography
HELIX 5 SI GPS
HELIX 5 GPS Side Imaging Fish Finder
Check Discounted Price
5"DualBeam Plus,
SI / DI
1500' standard,
100' SI / DI
InternalUniMap

The HELIX 5 SI GPS is one of the first Humminbird fish finders within the HELIX series, released in 2015. To be more specific, this is the HELIX 409640-1. Even though it’s not exactly a new model, it hasn’t been discontinued yet, and still benefits from a lot of positive feedback.

Since it’s an older model, it doesn’t have CHIRP capabilities such as the HELIX 5 CHIRP SI GPS G2. However, it does offer three types of sonar including DualBeam Plus, Side Imaging and Down Imaging. Also, as its name suggests, it’s a GPS unit and comes with the UniMap base charts.

Technical Details and Specifications

  • Screen: 5″ diagonal, color TFT, 800H x 480V pixel resolution, with backlight
  • Sonar: Side Imaging, Down Imaging, DualBeam Plus
  • Depth Capability:
    • DualBeam Plus: 1500 ft (457 m)
    • SI/DI: 100 ft (30 m)
  • Frequency and Coverage:
    • DualBeam Plus: 200 kHz / 20° and 83 kHz / 60°
    • Down Imaging: 455 kHz
    • Side Imaging: 455 kHz / 86° (x2) – 240 ft (73 m) on each side of the boat
  • Transducer: Transom XNT 9 SI 180 T
  • Power Output: 500 Watts (RMS)
  • Power Input: 10.8-20 VDC
  • Power Draw: 615 mA
  • GPS: 5 Hz, Internal
  • Maps: Humminbird UniMap (built-in)
  • Routes, Waypoints, Tracks: 45, 2,500, 50 (20,000 points each)

Sonar and transducer

The Humminbird HELIX 5 SI GPS offers three types of sonar. These are DualBeam Plus, Side Imaging, and Down Imaging. It comes with the XNT 9 SI 180 T transducer which supports all these three types of sonar. This transducer has a built-in temperature sensor, so the unit can monitor the water temperature. It features a transom mount and 20 ft (6 m) of cable.

The DualBeam Plus sonar is the traditional 2D sonar. For this type of sonar, the transducer uses two conical beams with a coverage of 20° @ 200 kHz, and 60° @ 83 kHz. Since the 2D sonar is DualBeam “PLUS”, both beams can be used simultaneously and their returns can be viewed in split-screen. Other Humminbird fish finders (from older generations) only have DualBeam sonar, being able to only use one 2D sonar beam at the time.

It’s best to use the traditional sonar view when looking for fish; in most cases, they appear as arches and clearly stand out from other objects or vegetation. Plus, for this type of sonar you’ll get a depth capability of 1,500 ft (457 m), and several standard sonar features, such as Real Time Sonar, Selective Fish ID, Bottom Lock, Circular Flasher for ice fishing, Fish Alarm, SwitchFire, and others.

The Humminbird HELIX 5 SI GPS is a Side Imaging fish finder. The Side Imaging sonar operates at 455 kHz, while the transducer launches two 86°, fan-shaped beams, with a coverage of 240 ft (73 m) on each side of the boat (480 ft in total). These help you determine the locations of fish, vegetation or structure in relation to the boat.

This Humminbird fish finder also has Down Imaging Sonar. This type of sonar works in a similar way as the 2D traditional sonar but offers the same, photo-like view of the bottom as the Side Imaging. However, since it’s a Side Imaging unit, and the transducer is a Side Imaging dedicated model, the Down Imaging beam is actually created from the information provided by the side beams. Its coverage isn’t specified. The DI sonar beam is also a fan-shaped beam just like the side sonar beams, and the frequency used is 455 kHz.

The system’s depth capability for Side Imaging and Down Imaging isn’t extraordinary, though. It can only reach depths up to 100 ft (30 m). So, basically, the SI and DI sonar modes are for lakes and inland fishing, not for deep off-shore waters.

One last notable feature to mention here is the unit’s Sonar Recording. This function allows you to record the sonar feed in order to review it later. This feature can save you some trouble if you need to review a certain spot, without re-scanning that particular area. However, to record and rewind the sonar log, a data microSD card must be inserted into the unit; the sonar recordings aren’t saved in the unit’s memory.

GPS and charts

The HELIX 5 SI GPS is equipped with a 5 Hz internal GPS, which can update your position 5 times per second. It uses the information from WAAS, EGNOS and MSAS satellites if they are available in your area, to provide the most accurate results possible. It shows your current coordinates and the coordinates of any waypoint or point of interest on the map. It can calculate the speed of your boat. It can also save up to 2,500 waypoints, 45 routes, and 50 trails (with up to 20,000 track points per trail).

Since it’s an older unit, the Humminbird HELIX 5 SI GPS only comes with the UniMap charts. These are quite basic charts, without contour lines, or advanced data such as port, tide, or current information. Although for the new HELIX units released in 2017 the UniMap charts have been updated to Humminbird Basemaps, which provide much more detail, we are not sure if this update is available for this particular older HELIX unit. But nonetheless, the unit supports charts from LakeMaster, Navionics Gold and HotMaps.

This Humminbird unit does not offer AIS or Radar support. The AutoChart or AutoChart Live features are not available with it, and also does not support SmartStrike fishing cards.

Control unit features

To begin with, this is a 5″ display unit, featuring a color TFT display (grayscale color 256) and a pixel resolution of 800H x 480V, which is not bad for a small unit; the images formed on the display are very sharp and clear. The display has LED backlight, which results in an excellent visibility at night or in direct sunlight. It’s also IPX7 waterproof, which technically means that it can withstand rain or incidental water exposure.

The unit feature keypad controls. It’s not an MFD such as the Simrad GO5 XSE, for example, so it does not have touchscreen technology. It includes a Gimbal mount, but an In-Dash mounting kit is optionally available.

This Humminbird HELIX unit does not have Ethernet but does offer NMEA 0183 support. It also has a microSD card reader with one slot, for chart upgrades, sonar recordings, software updates, or data transfer.

The Pros

  • DualBeam Plus sonar with SwitchFire;
  • Side Imaging and Down Imaging;
  • Powerful transducer (XNT 9 SI 180 T), CHIRP capable and temperature capable, with transom mount;
  • Depth capability up to 1,500 ft with the included transducer;
  • Multiple sonar functions available, such as RTS, Bottom Lock, Selective Fish ID+, Alarms etc;
  • Sonar Recording and Screen Snapshot functions;
  • 5 Hz GPS capable of using MSAS, EGNOS and WAAS satellites;
  • UniMap charts included;
  • Compatible with Navionics Gold and HotMaps, and LakeMaster charts;
  • Trackplotting, routes and waypoints functions;
  • 800 x 480 resolution, 256-color, with LED backlight, providing clear images, easy to read even in direct sunlight;
  • IPX7 waterproof;
  • NMEA 0183 support;
  • MicroSD card slot;
  • Upgradable internal software;
  • Gimbal mount included;
  • Fairly easy to install.

The Cons

  • Does not support SmartStrike cards;
  • AutoChart Live not included;
  • Only 100 ft depth capability for SI/DI sonar.

Summary

The Humminbird HELIX 5 SI GPS is a fish finder and chartplotter unit, featuring DualBeam Plus Sonar, Down Imaging, Side Imaging, GPS and the UniMap charts. It includes the XNT 9 SI 180 T transducer, which supports all its three types of sonar. It’s compatible with Navionics Gold and LakeMaster charts. It’s a perfect unit for lake fishing, but also for off-shore fishing if you only need to use the 2D sonar. It’s great for a wide array of small fishing boats. And finally, even though it costs approximately the same as the new HELIX 5 CHIRP SI GPS G2 unit, it still continues to benefit from many positive reviews from anglers all over the U.S.

10 Comments

  1. We operate 20′ Grady White Adventurer in Va’s Chesapeake Bay. We put perhaps 75 hours a year on the boat in the bay and in the neighboring seaside barrier islands [ My wife is a native of Tangier Island]. We are equipped with 12-year old Lowrance lc110 which is now unserviceable and becoming unreliable. I REQUEST YOUR RECOMMENDATION FOR A REPLACEMENT. Are their grades of quality/reliability between the brands? We are 70 years old and would feel lucky to operate for another 10-15 years; we would like to consider a unit reliable enough to see us thru that length of time.

    [1] I would like at least a 9-10″ screen. We have no hard top and the better daylight visibility, the better;
    [2] Basic GPS capabilities are satisfactory. Plotting display is more important to middle-aged eyes. We need maps only for the regions around the Delmarva peninsula, both bayside and seaside but would like the best mapping available – what map option would you recommend??
    [3] Superior fishfinding and bottom plotting capabilities are desired; the bay is running short of fish and we are lousy fishermen to boot. We never see depths in excess of 75 feet, bayside or seaside;
    [4] WiFi, touchscreen, complex networking and other modern niceties are not important to us. I am an engineer with nerd tendencies and user friendliness is not a concern. It would be nice to configure a screen with my engine data – the 3″ screen that is supplied with our new Suzuki 150 4-stroke is virtually unreadable. A larger brighter basic display with basic navigation and superior fishfinding are sought. I am willing to spend $155-$2500.
    What is your recommendation?

    • The unit that we’re recommending you is the Garmin echoMAP™ CHIRP 94sv. It comes with a mid range transducer, the GT51M-TM which should be OK for the area that you fish in. It has BlueChart g2 maps, which basically cover the offshore waters of the U.S., charts that should cover the Delmarva peninsula in sufficient detail (however, you can also upgrade the charts, and opt for more detailed ones later, if you think the preloaded BlueChart g2 ones don’t suffice).

      The unit has CHIRP sonar technology, which means it offers better target separation and better depth capabilities, but it also has SideVü and DownVü, which are simply great for studying structure, and observing fish targets in relation with structure or vegetation. On top of that, it’s capable of Panoptix sonar, which seems to be the “new thing” in terms of sonar. Panoptix does offer live sonar data, in other words, you will see the fish targets attacking the bait. However, the unit comes as we said, with the GT51M-TM transducer, which can work with the traditional 2D sonar, SV and DV, but does not work with Panoptix. Panoptix sonar requires a special transducer, which at the moment is quite expensive (approx $2,000 or so). The idea is, the unit is open for a nice upgrade which you may want in the future.

      Now, you can also opt for a Humminbird HELIX 9 SI GPS, or a HELIX 10 SI GPS, but those come with freshwater charts as standard charts, and we’re not so sure about their capabilities when it comes to indicating engine metrics. Not too much info on that. On the other hand, the Garmin echoMAP™ CHIRP 94sv has a nice engine metrics panel.

      You’ve mentioned that you have (or had) an old Lowrance unit… If you’d really like a Lowrance unit, you should go with one of the last year’s Elite-9 CHIRP. This year’s units, the HOOK ones, although they’re not bad, so far they’ve have gotten some crappy reviews from users. Most users would still vouch for the last year’s Elite units.

      So, our final recommendation for what you need, remains the first unit that we mentioned: the Garmin echoMAP CHIRP 94sv. The unit plus the GT51M-TM transducer (i.e. the model number 010-01580-01) costs approx $1,300.

      We hope this helps. Also, we’re sorry for the delayed answer. The comment was caught by the spam filter. Just fished it out from the trash bin 🙂

  2. Hi,
    I am fishing at deep water appx 40-80 meters, which will be better for me to recognize the surface, rocks, mud, soşl etc? helix 5 SI or helix 5 DI?
    thanks in advance,
    selim.

    • The Down Imaging will help you understand the bottom and structure better. So, better opt for the HELIX 5 DI unit, as it also has better depth capabilities.

  3. I’m thinking about putting the helix 5 so gps on my fishing kayak. I’m wondering how water proof these are?

    • They should survive rain and drops of water with no problem. But I wouldn’t immerse it. Also, saltwater and electronics don’t go well together.

  4. Hello, i would like to buy fish finder with gps for my kayak. I will use it at fresh water only with max. 30m depth. I will use it for zander fishing. I do not know which finder choose (size 5 or 7) Humminbird Helix SI GPS G2 or Lowrance Elite Ti with Totalscan? Is SI important for this style of fishing?
    Thank you

    • SI helps you see the placement of fish and other stuff, like rocks, logs, vegetation etc, in relation to the boat. If you’ll see a fish, you’ll know on which side of the boat it is and you can appreciate how far it is from the boat. It’s great for lure fishing. Any of the units you’ve mentioned should be OK for a kayak. Maybe the HELIX 7 would be a bit of an overkill, though. For a kayak, I’d go with a smaller unit.

      • Thank you very much. Which is better for lure fishing Humminbird Helix 5 SI GPS G2 or Lowrance Elite Ti 5 with Totalscan and why?

        • They have similar navigation and sonar features, but Lowrance Elite-5 Ti is touchscreen, while the Humminbird HELIX 5 CHIRP SI GPS G2 is not. While fishing from a kayak your hands will be dirty or wet most of the time, so the display of a touchscreen unit may get messy. Since it’s not touchscreen, the Humminbird unit is a bit cheaper. Also, it seems to have better overall reviews, so I’d go with that one.

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