The Humminbird Helix 9 & 10 is the new generation of the “Core Series”, replacing the 800 and 900 series units. If you are looking for a big screen, feature packed fish finder, the Helix 10 and Helix 9 are a great place to start.
I upgraded my bass boat from an 1199 and 1159 to the Helix 10 SI GPS and Helix 10 DI GPS this spring, so this is a review based on my own on the water experience. Overall you will see that the Helix 9 & 10 are bigger, brighter, faster, and have more fishing tools on board than any previous generation of Core Series units.
Helix 9 & 10 Overview
Despite looking very similar, there are some differences between the units, which are helpful to compare in the table. Physically, the Helix 9 & 10 share the same plastic body, so on the 9 you get a wider black border around the screen.
What’s kind of crazy is the Helix 9 display has 800×480 pixels, the same number of pixels in a 9″ screen as the Helix 7 and Helix 5. The Helix 10 though, has 1024×600 pixels, and is a big reason you might want to save your money and get the 10.
*Helix 9 comes with the “Compact SI” transducer, which is only 455kHz capable. You can exchange your new, unopened transducer for the HDSI transducer to get the 800kHz option. See more here.
**You can network other Helix 9, 10, 12, as well as 800/900/1100 series units with the 5 Port Ethernet Hub and the necessary cables.
Helix 10 SI GPS Review
There are a lot of things about the Helix 10 that you will be familiar with.
Same Transducers – It comes packed with the XHS 9 HDSI 180 T, the same transducer as the 900 & 1100 series. This means HD side imaging, blended beam Down Imaging, and 83/200 kHz standard sonar.
New Graphics – The menus have been updated graphically, but the menus themselves are mostly the same. The exclusive Lakemaster mapping options like depth highlight and water level offset are all there as well. The data boxes have been update as well. You have an overlay option (Depth, Speed, Temp), or Data Boxes which stack on the left side.
Sleek New Body – The plastic body is completely redesigned, with a nearly edge to edge glass font. It looks sleek and the big glass bonded display gives it some heft and a feeling of quality.
Beautiful 10.1″ Display – While just smaller than the 1199, it has more pixels and more viewable area because they finally got rid of the row of data boxes on the bottom.
New Cable Collector – There is now just a single cable collector, with nice spring loaded latches, making removal so much easier.
Heavy Duty Cover – The unit cover is now a heavy duty neoprene type material that fits over the unit like a glove. It snaps around the housing and so far has not flown off like the old plastic covers used to.
Smoother Scrolling – The keypad buttons have a harder feel to them compared to my old 1199. Moving the cursor around the screen is now much smoother. Gone are the sudden jerky cursor movements while trying to quickly mark something on the side imaging.
Keypad Closeup/Glass Thumbnail
Cable Collector Thumbnail
Neoprene Cover Thumbnail
The new stuff is where the Helix 10 starts to get fun.
12 Imaging Color Palettes – There are over a dozen new color palettes to work with on the Helix 10. Some of them look amazing, some look a little dim, but I’m sure my favorites will be different depending on the type of lake. My current favorites for SI and DI are the old Amber 1 standby and the new Yellow and Plum palettes. Yellow looks amazing and strong returns pop with a red-orange hue. The Plum palette looks really good, especially on 800 kHz.
AutoChart Live – The Helix 10 SI comes loaded with AutoChart Live, which I am really happy about. It has enough on board memory to record and save 8 hours worth of mapping. I’ve used the AutoChart Live function several times now, and it really is slick. If I want a more accurate map of an area, with a few button clicks, I will begin to see the new contours overlaying the old immediately.
SmartStrike – The fact that Helix 9 & 10 will soon be SmartStrike compatible is an added bonus. SmartStrike has all the same lake maps as your Lakemaster cards, with the added functionality of the Contour Elite software. By entering some variables and conditions, the program scans the lake map (HD maps only) and overlays likely fishing locations. I can’t wait to try this on out of town lakes.
One thing I was slightly disappointed in, was that while my waypoints all imported fine, but my old 1199 screenshots didn’t. On the Helix my old screenshots are a bunch of static noise, leaving me wondering what some waypoints were marking. To make lemonade out of the problem, it does give me a reason to revisit some of these old places.
This unit is definitely an improvement and refinement of the 1199 series that I replaced. I love the AutoChart function and Side Imaging has never looked better thanks to the new display. Overall I think the Helix 10 SI GPS is one the best fish finders you can buy today.
Pros + There are almost too many things to list here, but I will summarize it like this: The bright, high resolution screen with Side/Down Imaging, Lakemaster, AutoChart Live, SmartStrike, and 360 Imaging capabilities, the Helix 10 SI GPS is truly a total fishing package.
Cons – The only possible downside I can think of to the Helix 10 and Helix 9 is the lack of CHIRP sonar, but that is something I can easily overlook because of the wealth of other useful features in the units. If you are hoping for a touchscreen, you will need to look at the big buck units like ONIX or HDS Gen 3, but these are a working man’s fish finders and get the job done.
The Bottom Line: The Helix 10 SI and Helix 10 DI get my highest approval and recommendation. The screens are sharp, bright, and bigger than ever. I’ve used AutoChart Live many times already, and it really is amazing to have it ready to use on demand.
For the ultimate fishing setup, I highly recommend a Helix 10 SI GPS for your console, and either a Helix 9 DI or Helix 10 DI paired with 360 Imaging at the bow. This setup has changed the way I fish forever, and it can help you too.