Humminbird Ice Helix 7 Review: Should You Buy It? [2019]

There are plenty of fish finders out there, and most of them are suitable for lake and deep-sea fishing. But what if you’re one of those hardy anglers who prefer to go out fishing when the lakes and ponds are crusted with a thick layer of ice? Fortunately, there are options available for you as well. This Humminbird Ice Helix 7 review takes an in-depth look at one of the most popular ones on the market.

Things to Consider When Buying a Humminbird Ice Helix 7

Before you purchase a fish finder, you should familiarize yourself with the available types. All of the following can be used when ice fishing, to varying degrees of success.

Flashers

The simplest type of fish finder, flashers feature dials that change color based on what’s beneath the surface of the water. They utilize basic sonar technology and can be difficult to read if you don’t know what to look for.

Traditional

These are the fish finders that you usually see on boats, with a transducer attached to a digital screen. As long as the transducer is stable, these units can be used for ice fishing as well.

Portable

Portable models are equipped with small transducers, capable of transmitting their signals back to your tablet or smartphone. These are well-suited for ice fishing, as they don’t require mounting and can easily be carried from one spot to another.

Next, you should compose a list of the criteria to look for in a specific model. Here are some suggestions, which I used in my own Humminbird Ice Helix 7 review.

  • Price—How much can you afford to spend on a fish finder?
  • Screen Size—Are you looking for a large screen that’s easy to read from a distance, or a smaller, more portable device?
  • Water Resistance—Does the unit rank at least a 7 on the JIS or IPX scale?
  • Depth Rating—Does the transducer transmit accurate readings at the depths you’ll be fishing?
  • Display—Does it feature a color screen? How high is the screen resolution?
  • Sonar—Does the device specify CHIRP sonar? If not, does it list an alternative?
  • GPS—Does the unit feature GPS technology?
  • Additional Features—Are there any other perks that help set this fish finder apart from the competition?

Humminbird Ice Helix 7 Review: The Basics

When you purchase a Humminbird Ice Helix 7, you receive a convenient carrying case that fits the model perfectly and carries its own IPX rating of 5. Also included are a gimbal bracket for mounting, battery charger, and shuttle.

Pros:

  • Split-screen technology
  • GPS capability
  • Ease of setup
  • User-friendly
  • Jig Charge mode may help attract more fish

Cons: 

  • High price point
  • Visuals on 2D sonar screen can be difficult to read
  • Slightly heavy for a portable unit at 13.6 pounds

Features & Benefits of the Ice Helix 7

How well does the Ice Helix 7 stand up to the criteria we listed earlier? Here’s the step-by-step breakdown.

Price

Unless you opt for one of the earlier versions of this model, a simple color flasher known as the ICE-35, you can expect to shell out some major cash for the Ice Helix 7. In fact, the cost alone is enough to make this purchase prohibitive unless you’re a serious ice angler who regularly participates in tournaments. That said, it usually offers good value for the money, considering all of the other perks we’ve listed below.

Screen Size

The screen for the Ice Helix 7 measures seven inches on the diagonal. Considering that the unit features a split screen, this is a useful feature, as it makes both displays easier to read. Since you’ll be using this fish finder primarily on the ice, its bulkier size isn’t likely to be an issue.

Water Resistance

The unit carries an IPX rating of 7. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the rating system, this means that the unit can survive immersion water of up to three feet for as long as 30 minutes without suffering any damage. The majority of fish finders hold this rating, which is considered sufficient, especially for models like the Ice Helix 7 that are designed for ice fishing.

Depth Rating

The transducer on this model is capable of reading depths of up to 1,500 feet in either fresh or salt water. For ice fishing, this rating is more than sufficient; in fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find a unit that could provide you with a deeper readout, even for deep-sea fishing. The cable for the transducer is eight feet long, increasing the probability of accurate readouts when fishing below the ice.

Display

The screen on the Ice Helix 7 is exceptionally bright and easy to read in winter sunlight. The screen resolution is an impressive 480 X 800, more than twice as high as the recommended minimum of 240 X 160. The unit earns high marks in this category, especially when you factor in the large screen size.

Sonar

The dual-beam transducer on the Ice Helix 7 functions at either a 20-degree or a 60-degree angle, depending on your preference. The narrow beam works well if you’re looking for a highly accurate image of the lake bottom, while the wide beam is effective at covering wide swaths of underwater territory.

The advanced version of this unit features SwitchFire sonar. This means that you can switch between the Clear and Max modes, depending on how detailed you want the displayed images to be. For example, the Clear Mode filters out smaller details to provide you with a clear, bright image of the underwater environment and the nearby fish. By contrast, the Max Mode gives you a more comprehensive map of what’s lurking beneath the surface, making it easier for you to track the specific conditions of that lake or pond. Both of these options offer clear sets of benefits, so the opportunity to choose between them can be considered a major perk.

GPS

Humminbird gives the Ice Helix 7 a GPS antenna that’s equipped with what it calls “UniMap” cartography. This has the ability to display miles of US coastline, as well as thousands of North American lakes and rivers. In addition to being a navigational aid, this software allows anglers to store up to 2,500 waypoints and 45 routes in its specialized memory system.

The unit also includes a built-in micro-SD card slot, so you can use the device to upload other mapping information that you’ve obtained using other devices. Finally, it’s worth mentioning that Humminbird gives consumers the option to upgrade the unit’s internal software at no charge. You can take advantage of this perk by visiting the company’s website.

Additional Features

The Ice Helix 7 features both a flasher screen and a 2D sonar view, giving it a versatility that isn’t commonly seen in units meant primarily for ice fishing. The model comes equipped with a built-in transducer, CHIRP sonar, and GPS technology. There’s a carrying case included for protection, and its AutoChart Live feature allows you to create maps of your fishing terrain for later reference. The Jig Charge mode is especially well suited for ice anglers: When this feature is enabled, it lights up the screen to provide a charge to your glow-painted lures.

Taking it to The Ice: Customer Testimony

Personally, I’ve had good luck with the Ice Helix 7. Still, I was curious as to whether my own experience tallied with that of other consumers. That’s what prompted me to scan the Web for testimonials from other people who’d purchased the Ice Helix 7.

Many consumers were impressed with the overall performance of the unit, with some claiming that it worked even better than they’d expected. The dual sonar function was mentioned as a definite plus, as was the long battery life. A few users mentioned the high price, but were just as quick to point out that they felt it was worth the extra money.

Alternatives to the Humminbird Ice Helix 7

If you’ve taken in all of the above information and would still prefer to keep your options open, that’s no problem. There are many alternatives that might suit your needs just as well, if not better. Here are a few examples to get the ball rolling.

Lowrance HOOK2 Ice Fishing and All-Season Pack

Lowrance has a solid reputation for offering quality equipment, usually at an affordable price. This ice fishing unit is no exception. While it doesn’t have the same split-screen technology as the Ice Helix 7, it’s available in a number of different screen sizes and comes with its own protective carrying case. It also offers side-imaging in addition to down-imaging, giving it added versatility.

How They Compare

  • Price—HOOK2
  • Screen Size—HOOK2
  • Water Resistance—Ice Helix 7
  • Depth Rating—Ice Helix 7
  • Display—Ice Helix 7
  • Sonar—Ice Helix 7
  • GPS—Ice Helix 7
  • Additional Features—Ice Helix 7

If this sounds like an appealing option, go ahead and take a closer look at the Lowrance HOOK2 all-season package today.

Garmin Striker Plus 5 Ice Bundle

This moderately priced unit offers a five-inch display screen with high resolution, CHIRP sonar, and a convenient carrying case. The GPS software allows you to create maps with 1′ contours for superb detail.

How They Compare

  • Price—Striker Plus 5
  • Screen Size—Ice Helix 7
  • Water Resistance—Tie
  • Depth Rating—Ice Helix 7
  • Display—Striker Plus 5
  • Sonar—Ice Helix 7
  • GPS—Ice Helix 7
  • Additional Features—Ice Helix 7

This unit could be a good choice for anglers who aren’t interested in the flasher display that the Ice Helix 7 offers, and are looking to create detailed maps of the underwater environment. If this sounds like you, give the Striker Plus 5 a try.

Lucky Portable Fish Finder

Lucky offers a handheld unit that’s far and away the least expensive alternative on this list. Considering its small size, though, the sonar transducer is especially effective at locating fish. Casual hobbyists who just want a basic fish finder to take out on the ice will find plenty to like about this convenient, no-frills model.

How They Compare

  • Price—Lucky
  • Screen Size—Ice Helix 7
  • Water Resistance—Tie
  • Depth Rating—Ice Helix 7
  • Display—Ice Helix 7
  • Sonar—Lucky
  • GPS—Ice Helix 7
  • Additional Features—Ice Helix 7

While serious anglers might scoff at the simplicity of this model, we think it’s worthy of mention. Feel free to take a look at what the Lucky Portable Fish Finder has to offer.

The Bottom Line

While there are plenty of fish finders to choose from, not all of them are well-suited specifically for ice fishing. That’s where the Humminbird Ice Helix 7 delivers. Its large screen makes it easy to read both the tri-colored flasher and the 2D display, and the waterproof case helps to protect it from the elements. In addition to being useful, the Jig Charge function is also a sweet talking point if you like to fish with friends. Click here to find out more about the Ice Helix 7, and start your journey toward greater success on the ice fishing circuit.

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