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Humminbird HELIX 5 Sonar

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HELIX 5 Sonar

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5"DualBeam Plus with SwitchFire1500' NoNo

The HELIX 5 Sonar unit is one of the most basic Humminbird fish finders. It’s actually one of the older Humminbird HELIX fish finders, the part number 409590-1 released in 2015. As its name suggests, it doesn’t have GPS or other navigation functions. It’s a simple 5″ unit which only offers standard dual frequency sonar. A basic transducer is included with this unit, though.

Technical Details and Specifications

  • Screen: 5″ diagonal, 800H x 480V pixel resolution, 256 color TFT, with LED backlight
  • Sonar: DualBeam Plus with SwitchFire
  • Depth Capability: 1,500 feet (457 m)
  • Frequency and Coverage: 200 kHz / 20° and 83 kHz / 60°
  • Transducer: Transom XNT 9 20 T
  • Power Output: 500 Watts (RMS)
  • Power Input: 10.8-20 VDC
  • Power Draw: 615 mA
  • GPS: No
  • Charts: No

Sonar and transducer

As we’ve mentioned above, the Humminbird HELIX 5 Sonar unit (409590-1) is capable of two frequencies, 200 kHz, and respectively 83 kHz. It does not have CHIRP sonar such as the newer G2 and G2N units, and cannot use 50 kHz capable transducers. However, the unit’s sonar is actually DualBeam Plus, which means it can use both frequencies simultaneously and show the returns of both sonar beams in split screen. The two sonar images can also be blended together.

The transducer included with this unit is the basic XNT 9 20 T, which can operate at the same frequencies (200/83 kHz) as the unit. This transducer integrates a temperature sensor and the unit can show the temperature of the top water layer. The unit does not have a temperature graph function, though. Also, this transducer comes with a transom mount and 20′ (6 m) of cable.

The transducer uses a 60° conical beam for the 83 kHz frequency. Evidently, it’s best to use the 83 kHz mode for a wider coverage and a greater depth. For the 200 kHz mode, the transducer beam is also conical but narrow, only 20°. It offers a more focused imaging with better-determined targets.

The system’s depth capability with the included transducer is 1,500 ft when using the 83 kHz mode. The recommended boat speed for the best imaging with the most targets is trolling speed (up to 10 MPH).

Even though the HELIX 5 Sonar is a sonar-only unit, it offers most of the standard sonar features. To begin with, it has the Fish ID+ function which uses advanced signal processing to interpret the sonar returns and will replace a specific target detected by the transducer with a fish icon when certain requirements are met. However, not all the targets displayed as fish will be fish. But the plus here is that each fish target will have its current depth shown next to it, which may be quite useful.

The unit has several alarms. The Fish ID alarm is available only when using the Fish ID+ mode. You can set it up to sound when it detects large fish, large/medium fish and any fish (or you can turn it off). The Depth Alarm allows you to select a specific depth and it will sound when you reach that depth. You can use it to avoid shallows, for example. There’s also a Temperature Alarm and a Battery Alarm.

SwitchFire is another function available with this unit. It’s a function available on all Humminbird fish finders that have the DualBeam Plus sonar. SwitchFire allows you to quickly alternate between two modes: Max Mode and Clear Mode. Max Mode puts all the sonar information on the screen so you can view the maximum of targets (fish, structure etc). Clear Mode cuts off all the clutter leaving only the most significant targets on the display, allowing you to focus on the bigger fish.

Structure ID is a function that represents the weak returns as light pixels, while the strong returns will be darker. WhiteLine highlights the strongest sonar returns in white, which results in a distinctive outline, with the benefit of clearly defining the bottom on the display. Last but not least, the Bottom View function focuses the view of the sonar onto the bottom. It’s best to be used along with the Fish ID+ function, in order to have a better view of the fish that are feeding close to the bottom.

Circular Flasher and Vertical Flasher (or Real Time Sonar – RTS) are two other functions available. The Circular Flasher view is best to use when ice fishing or when down-dropping. It puts the sonar information into a ring view; the outer ring shows the strength of each signal from left to right; the inner ring shows current depth. And finally, Real Time Sonar or RTS is a vertical flasher which can be displayed next to the standard sonar, indicating the most recent sonar information caught by the transducer.

Control unit features

The HELIX 5 Sonar features a TFT Color (256 colors) display, 5″ in diagonal, with a pixel resolution of 800H x 480V. The display integrates LED backlight offering excellent readability even in direct sunlight. It’s also IPX7 waterproof, which means it can withstand incidental water exposure.

The navigation through the unit’s menus and the usage of its functions is done via the keypad on the right of the unit. It doesn’t have touchscreen technology such as the Lowrance Elite-5 Ti, for example.

The Humminbird fish finder doesn’t support NMEA and does not have a card reader. Therefore, you cannot upgrade it with charts. It also does not have a sonar recording function.

The mount supplied with the unit is a gimbal (tilt-swivel) type, but there’s also the option of an in-dash mounting kit. The box does not include a unit cover.

The Pros

  • DualBeam Plus sonar;
  • XNT 9 20 T transducer is included;
  • Depth capability up to 1,500 ft;
  • Multiple alarms;
  • Fish ID, RTS, Circular Flasher, SwitchFire, Alarms, Bottom View, Structure ID functions available;
  • Excellent, sharp imaging;
  • IPX7 waterproof;
  • Tilt-and-swivel mount included;
  • Easy to install.

The Cons

  • No card reader;
  • No unit cover.


The Humminbird HELIX 5 Sonar is a standalone fish finder unit without any navigation functions (no GPS, no charts). It has only DualBeam Plus sonar and comes with a basic 200/83 kHz transducer. But nonetheless, it’s an inexpensive unit, perfect for in-land and even off-shore fishing, being able to scan depths up to 1,500 ft.

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