If you’re a serious angler, chances are you’re familiar with the Humminbird brand—it’s one of the top names in the industry. But what are the best Humminbird fish finders? Is there a particular model that stands out from the rest—and if so, what makes it better?
In an effort to find the answers, I’ve put together this Humminbird fish finders review.
Humminbird Fish Finders: What You Need To Know
Before you begin your search, here are some useful tips on how to get the most out of your Humminbird fish finder.
Advantages and Benefits of Owning a Humminbird Fish Finder
There are plenty of valid reasons to invest in a fish finder. To name just a few:
They’ll help you locate the best fishing spots.
Fish finders do more than pinpoint the location of the nearby fish. The best units will also give you information on the underwater environment, including any structures that might be lurking below the surface. This can make it easier for you to track your prey, depending on the type of fishing that you prefer.
If you fish primarily for largemouth bass, for example, you’ll know that they usually hang out around underwater obstacles, such as rocks or fallen trees. With the right fish finder, you’ll be able to tell whether any of these structures are nearby. Similarly, if you’re a deep-sea fisherman, the display on your fish finder can tell you the depth and temperature of the water, so you’ll know just where to cast your line.
They have mapping technology.
It can be difficult to remember where all the sweet spots are, especially if you like to explore many different lakes and ponds. The right fish finder can do that work for you.
GPS fish finders are equipped with mapping technology that allows you to pinpoint your favorite locations and store them for later use. Not only is this a cool technological perk, but it can also help you save a lot of time on the water.
You don’t have to be a professional angler or a tech wizard to operate a fish finder. Most models come equipped with a user-friendly interface and easy-to-follow instructions, and installation is usually simple as well.
While some of the more sophisticated units can fetch the equivalent of a monthly mortgage payment, there are plenty of value-priced options on the market as well. Whether you’re a pro fisherman or a casual hobbyist, you should have no problem finding a device that fits your budget.
How to Choose the Best Humminbird Fish Finders
As is the case with most important purchases, there are certain criteria for selecting the perfect fish finder. Below is a checklist of the features you should be on the lookout for.
- Color—A color screen will allow you to see more detail on the screen, but black-and-white units might be easier to read (and possibly cheaper).
- Screen resolution—Look for a minimum pixelation of 240×160, or higher if you can afford it. The higher the screen resolution is, the crisper and brighter your display will be.
- Frequency—Low frequencies are best for deep water, while shallow conditions warrant a higher frequency. Some units are equipped with multiple frequencies. If you participate in many different types of fishing, a multiple frequency unit would probably be best.
- Mounting system—Some fish finders are outfitted for a transom mount, while others can be mounted in-hull or through a scupper hole. Which one you choose depends largely on the kind of boat you have, as well as the type of fishing you prefer.
Best Way to Use a Humminbird Fish Finder
Depending on the unit you purchase, your fish finder will come equipped with either a side-imaging or a down-imaging transducer, or both. Side-imaging allows you to get a horizontal view of the area beneath your boat, and is best suited for shallow conditions. Down-imaging, by contrast, tends to be more useful when fishing in deep water, as it provides a more detailed view of the lake bottom. It should also be noted that side-imaging transducers aren’t always accurate when the craft is traveling at higher speeds.
Once you’ve determined which transducer will be most effective, you can begin the installation process. Which method you choose depends on the type of fish finder you have, the size and style of your boat, and what kind of fishing you’ll be doing. Note that if you’re using the transom mount method, you should make sure you have a transducer mounting board first.
Figuring out the correct installation method can be tricky, which is why some anglers opt for handheld devices instead. Some of the units we’ve listed are better suited for ice fishing or casting from a dock. If you prefer these types of fishing, then these models would probably be a better fit for you.
For a step-by-step tutorial on how to set up your Humminbird fish finder, check out this YouTube video.
Precautions and Prerequisites
Before you install and set up your Humminbird fish finder, make sure the size and style of the unit are compatible with your boat. Look for a unit with a water resistance rating (either on the JIS or the IPX scale) of at least 7, especially if you’ll be mounting the device on your canoe or kayak. This should allow the unit to remain functional even if it’s been temporarily submerged in water.
Humminbird Fish Finders Review
#1 Humminbird ICE
With its sturdy down-imaging transducer and easy-to-read interface, this is the model we would recommend for ice fishing. There are several versions of the Humminbird ICE. The 35 is a basic, affordable unit with a three-color flasher, while the 45 represents a slight upgrade with the addition of a five-inch screen with a digital readout. The 55 is much the same as the 45, but it features six colors instead of three. It also comes equipped with its own carrying case. A fourth version, the ICE Helix 5, is even more sophisticated, utilizing GPS technology and a dual-spectrum CHIRP transducer.
While all of the ICE units are suitable for ice fishing, note that the Helix version is the only one that includes mounting hardware. If you think you’ll be using the fish finder for other types of fishing and would like the opportunity to install the unit on your boat, the basic versions are probably not the best choice.
- Variety of options
- Long battery life
- Accurate readouts on depth and fish location
- Easy to use
- Lowest-priced unit not equipped with digital readout
- Only the Helix 5 provides an actual display of the underwater environment
- Very basic units; not the best choice for tech wizards
#2 Humminbird Helix 7
The “7” in the name refers to the screen size (in inches) of this Helix fish finder, which is available in a variety of styles. All of these are equipped with CHIRP digital sonar, mounting hardware, and power cable. Some of the updated versions also feature dual-imaging transducers for improved flexibility, as well as GPS technology to help you navigate your favorite lakes and streams.
The Helix 7 series has a lot of the key qualities you should look for in a fish finder, and offers a wide selection of styles to choose from. However, this quality and convenience comes at a price—even the most basic Helix units are significantly more expensive than a lot of the competition.
- Large, easy-to-read screen
- Series features a variety of styles
- Includes all the necessary hardware for installation and use
- Dual-spectrum imaging allows you to see the underwater environment in great detail
- Relatively high price point
- Some secondary parts can be easily lost in transit
- Confusing marketing terms—some upgrades may be “available” but not actually included in the purchase
#3 Humminbird PiranhaMAX 4
The PiranhaMAX 4 is one of the most user-friendly units on our list, with a screen measuring 4.3 inches across and a basic keypad that’s easy enough for children to use. The dual-beam sonar allows you to get more detailed images of the fish, as well as the structure of the lake bottom. This unit offers a depth readout of 320 feet at 455 kHz and up to 600 feet at 200 kHz, making it sufficient for deep-sea voyages in addition to lake fishing. The PiranhaMAX 4 PT is a portable version of this model, coming equipped with its own carrying case.
The compact, lightweight nature of the PiranhaMAX 4 makes it an appealing model if you don’t have a lot of space for mounting—if you routinely fish from your canoe or kayak, for example. It’s also set at a lower price point than the Helix series, so if you’re looking for value over sophistication, this could be a good fit for you.
- Affordable price point
- Good choice for smaller crafts
- Accurate depth readouts
- User-friendly interface
- Lacks GPS technology
- No side-imaging option
- Mediocre screen resolution
#4 Humminbird PiranhaMAX 197C
This is an even smaller version of the PiranhaMAX, with a 3.5-inch screen and built-in transducer for portability. It offers the same dual-frequency sonar and user-friendly keypad. The screen resolution doesn’t offer the sharpest images you’ll find, but it gets the job done, and is easy to read even in bright sunlight. Readouts on depth and temperature are included in the display as well.
It should be noted that while the screen can be viewed in direct sunlight, the bright backlight makes it unsuitable for night fishing. This may not be a deal-breaker for many anglers, but given the fact that this unit is very small and versatile, it’s worth mentioning. Finally, be aware that this unit is equipped for transom mounting only.
- Small and lightweight
- Built-in transducer
- Easy to use, even for beginners
- Easy to install
- Offers good value for the price
- Transom mount only
- Screen may be too small for those with vision problems or those who need to position the fish finder some distance away
- Not suitable for use at night
#5 Humminbird Helix 5
The Helix 5 comes equipped with a five-inch color screen, and dual-beam sonar frequency—much like its 7-inch counterpart. The basic version is likely the easiest to use, but it offers no side-or down-imaging, nor does it have a GPS function. The updated versions, meanwhile, include built-in GPS technology and a micro SD card slot for storing maps and waypoints.
Some of the upgraded versions feature a split-screen technology that may be slightly confusing if you’re used to simpler displays, but these screens also offer a great deal of information: water depth, temperature, time of day, boat speed, and mapping coordinates that pinpoint your exact location. If the unit is marketed as “portable,” that usually means that it comes with its own carrying case; if this feature is important to you, check the product specifications to make sure.
- Reasonable price point
- Upgraded versions feature nifty technology
- Easy to use
- Accurate depth readings
- Some secondary parts are not high quality
- Some wiring issues have been reported
- Wide array of similar options can make it difficult to choose the correct product (for example, side imaging is included in some versions but not others)
So, after researching and performing this Humminbird fish finders review, which one would I choose above the rest?
It was a difficult decision. All of the products listed perform well when they’re used correctly, and the only issues I had were minor ones. That said, I would have to award the crown to the Helix 5 series—specifically, the Helix 5 CHIRP GPS G2. The color screen offers crisp, high-resolution images, and the dual-frequency CHIRP sonar allows for greater versatility. The GPS technology is another plus, especially since it’s backed by the ability to store locations by using a micro SD card.
Finally, the unit offers all the benefits of its Helix 7 counterpart, but at a lower price. While the screen is slightly smaller, it’s large enough to be readable in most conditions, and I think it’s a worthy trade considering the money you save by investing in the Helix 5.
I hope you’ve obtained the information you need regarding Humminbird’s impressive lineup of fish finders. May your purchase bring you enjoyment and success in the days ahead.