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Humminbird PiranhaMax 197c

Piranhamax 197c
piranhamax 197c - sonar only fishfinder
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Although Humminbird has already released a new set of PiranhaMax units, the older PiranhaMax 197c hasn’t been discontinued yet, and still is one of the best and most affordable fish finders that come with a transducer. It’s a unit without GPS, offering only fish finding functions.

Currently, this unit is available for less than $100, and simply makes a great choice for a small boat or a kayak.

Technical Details and Specifications

  • Screen: 3.5″ diagonal, color TFT with a 256 color range, 240H x 320V pixel resolution, with LED backlight
  • Sonar: DualBeam
  • Depth Capability: 600 feet (183 m)
  • Frequency and Coverage: 200 kHz / 28° and 455 kHz / 16°
  • Transducer: Transom XNT 9 28 T
  • Power Output: 300 Watts (RMS)
  • Power Input: 10-20 VDC
  • Power Draw: 220 mA
  • GPS: No
  • Maps: No

Fish finding features

First of all, this Humminbird fish finder comes with the XNT 9 28 T transducer, which supports the unit’s both frequencies. The transducer has a transom mount and requires to be mounted in the water, outside the boat. It comes with 20′ (6 m) of cable, and integrates a temperature sensor. The unit itself is temperature capable, and will display the topwater temperature.Humminbird XNT 9 28 T - transom transducer

The Humminbird PiranhaMax 197c is a Dual Beam fish finder, being capable of two frequencies: 200 kHz and 455 kHz. But since it’s not Dual Beam Plus, only Dual Beam, it cannot use both sonar beams simultaneously, only one at the time. In other words, you’ll be scanning either with the 200 kHz beam, or 455 kHz beam.

Even though it has the 455 kHz channel, it’s not a unit with Down Imaging technology. It only uses 2D standard sonar. If you want a similar small unit with DI, you might want to have a look at the PiranhaMax 197c DI. The sonar beams used by the transducer are both conical, with angles of 16° for 455 kHz, and 28° for 200 kHz.

With the supplied transducer, the unit’s maximum depth capability is 600 ft (183 m), which is not bad for a small unit. Also, it should be able to maintain a bottom reading at speeds up to 30 MPH. However, the clearest images, providing the most targets are obtained if you sail at speeds up to 6 MPH.

This Humminbird fish finder offers several useful sonar functions, including Fish ID+, Bottom View, Structure ID, WhiteLine and various alarms.

The Fish ID+ function assigns fish symbols to the suspended targets. In other words the fish will be represented by small fish icons, rather than the raw sonar arches. However, the Fish ID+ can also be misleading, as it may erroneously interpret various other targets such as debris or suspended vegetation, and give them fish icons. But still, it’s a function great to have, especially if you’re not familiar with the raw sonar view.piranhamax 197c - sonar view

As its name suggests, Bottom View 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. Structure ID is a function that represents the weak returns as light pixels, while the strong returns will be darker. Conversely, 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.

The unit has three alarm functions: Battery Alarm, Fish Alarm and Depth Alarm. The Battery Alarm sounds when the battery voltage is equal or less than the menu setting. The Fish Alarm will sound when the unit detects fish targets that correspond to a specific size. There are 3 fish size options for this alarm, such as “Large, Medium and Small” and you can choose one of them or all, so that the unit will sound when it detects a fish that corresponds to the setting. Depth Alarm will sound when the depth is equal or less than the selected value.

Control unit features

First of all, this unit features a small, 3.5″ display, with a pixel matrix of 240H x 320V but the digits are fairly large. It’s a color unit offering a range of 256 colors. It also features LED backlight, which offers better readability of the screen when in direct sunlight or at night.

The unit takes 12v 5-7 amp batteries.

Even though it’s a small unit, it’s IPX7 waterproof, which means it can withstand incidental water exposure, or even immersions in freshwater.

Last but not least, the mount supplied with the unit is a tilt-swivel type. However, an in-dash mounting kit option is also available. Unit cover is not included.

The Pros

  • Dual Beam sonar 200/455 kHz;
  • Transducer XNT 9 28 T with transom mount and temperature sensor, included;
  • 600 ft max. depth capability;
  • Various functions included, such as Fish ID, Bottom View, Fish Alarm, Depth Alarm etc;
  • IPX7 waterproof;
  • Color display;
  • Fairly easy to install;
  • Affordable.

The Cons

  • No upgrade options;
  • No unit cover.


The Humminbird PiranhaMax 197c is an basic fish finder, offering traditional 2D sonar only. However, its sonar is Dual Beam, being able to operate at 200 and 455 kHz. The unit comes with the XNT 9 28 T transducer which supports both frequencies. This fish finder has a max. depth capability of 600 ft, which means you can also use it for off-shore fishing, as long as you remain close to the shore. It’s great for kayaks and small boats, easy to install and maintain. And finally, it costs less than $100 which is simply great for a fish finder plus transducer bundle.

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