Top 5 Hummingbird Fish Finders

The Best Hummingbird Fish Finders

Are you looking for a quality fish finder? In that case, you’ve come to the right place. In here, I will present the top 5 Hummingbird Fish Finders which will take your fishing experience to maximum! Using one of the top-quality, professional Hummingbird fish finders, you will get a hold of a wide range of fishfinding options. You will get crystal-clear imaging, laser-targeted tracking results, even in the murkiest waters, or where the bottom of the sea, lake or river has the most irregularities. With a super tracker like a Humminbird Fish Finder 1198c SI Combo or Humminbird Fish Finder 998c SI Combo, fish will literally have no place to hide! So, without wasting anymore of your time, here are the most effective Hummingbird Fish Finders out there.

Hummingbird Fish Finders - 698ci HD SI Combo

Humminbird 698ci HD SI Combo

A few brand new series of fish finders were released by Humminbird by the end of 2013, the Onix, ION and 600 series. And regarding the 600 series, it pretty much came to replace the 500 and 700 series which were discontinued.

These being said, one of the best (if not the best) Side Imaging fish finders from Humminbird at the moment, in terms of quality / price ratio, is the Humminbird 698ci HD SI Combo. What makes it so great? Let’s have a look at its features.

First of all, it has a big enough screen for both fish tracking and chartplotting, 5-inch in diagonal, with a pixel resolution of 480 x 640. Evidently, it has a brilliant 256 color TFT display, LCD backlit screen, making all the sonar returns much easier to interpret and understand.

The sonar capabilities of this unit are quite generous. As its name suggests, it has High-Definition Side Imaging and Down Imaging, the two options which take the sonar reading to a superior level, offering a crystal clear view of what’s directly under the boat, and side to side. The depth capability of the 698ci HD SI Combo is 100ft. for SI and DI, and up to 1500ft. for the down beam, traditional sonar view. The unit also features the Fish ID+ view.

This fish finder is equipped with Dual Beam Plus sonar, including SwitchFire. In other words, you will be able to scan the water under your boat in two modes: a 60° / 83 kHz view for a wider coverage, or a 20° / 200 kHz view, with a narrower, but more accurate coverage. Or, you can operate both views simultaneously, in split screen. The frequency of the sonar for SI and DI is 455 kHz with a total coverage of 180°. The power output of this unit is 500 Watts (RMS) and 4000 (PTP). The transducer of the 698ci HD SI Combo is the standard Transom XNT 9 SI 180 T.

Regarding the navigational capabilities of the Humminbird 698ci HD SI Combo, precision GPS, chartplotting and trackplotting are on the list, the unit being capable to store up to 2,500 waypoints, 45 routes and 50/20,000 tracks/points. It has built-in UniMap cartography package, and it’s also upgradable with an SD card for Navionics Gold / HotMaps, or Lakemaster. Unfortunately it does not support 360 Imaging.

In conclusion, the Humminbird 698ci HD SI Combo is number one in our top 5, because it basically has all the navigational and fish finding options required by any angler, recreational or pro, to take their fishing to a superior level, available for quite an excellent price, compared with other Hummingbird fish finders.

Hummingbird Fish Finders - Number 1 Recommended

Humminbird 998c SI Combo

Hummingbird Fish Finder 998c SI Combo

Out of all Hummingbird fish finders, the Humminbird 998c SI Combo  is also one of  the best, when it comes to the price-quality ratio. I’ll tell you exactly why.

First of all, it has an 8″ diagonal, 16:9 TFT color display, which will provide you with crystal-clear images. Its wide screen, 480v x 800H is the perfect fit for a professional or casual fisherman. In fact, even if you’re the average weekend fisherman, this device will bring you the same results as the pros’.

The Hummingbird Fish Finder 998c SI Combo has DualBeam PLUS Sonar, with an up to 8000 Watts PTP power output. This feature will make your unit reliable from shallow to up to 1500 ft waters. You can optionally equip it with a 200/50 kHz transducer and this way you will be able to use successfully even for 3000ft depths.

It has HD quality Side Imaging and Down Imaging, allowing you to adapt better to any given environment or fishing conditions. One of the Hummingbird fish finders with these options, will increase your effectiveness in a wider range of angling styles. It’s Side Imaging delivers snapshots of photo-like clarity in up to 150 ft deep waters,  covering a massive surface of 480 ft from the left to the right of your boat.

As far as it concerns me, I really prefer the Side Imaging because the Hummingbird depth finders with this feature provide a better overview of the bottom contour, structure and the orientation of cover, and because of the huge amounts of water I can scan. Anyway, if you’re a catfisherman, you’re after big Atlantic sturgeons or basically any species of bottom fish, the Down Imaging of this fish finder should work like a charm.

As for the GPS capabilities of this electronic fishing gadget, the Humminbird Fish Finder 998c SI Combo has its own, built-in ContourXD mapping, giving you access to a wide range of maps. Plus, it’s compatible with Navionics and LakeMaster. Its 50 channel GPS will provide you with accurate and quick positioning information. Like all the other Hummingbird Fish Finders within the 900 series, it has a memory that will allow you to store up to 3000 waypoints, 50 routes or 50 tracks with 20,000 points each.

Hummingbird Fish Finders - Number 4 Recommended

Humminbird 798ci HD SI Combo

(Discontinued by manufacturer)

Even though the 798ci HD SI Combo is one of the discontinued fish finders, along with the whole 700 series, Humminbird still provides technical support for them. Now, various dealers still have this model in stock, and due to the discontinuation, they offer  substantial discounts. Therefore, the 798ci HD SI Combo will still remain in our top, at least for a while, because it’s quite a decent fish finder, with a great quality / price ratio.

Regarding its capabilities and features, the Humminbird 798ci HD SI Combo is quite a nice fish finder for the price, an excellent choice for the weekend fisherman. Although it has a small color display, only 5-inch diagonal, 640V x 640H, with LED backlight, it will provide you with accurate and crystal-clear images.

Just like the Hummingbird fish finders above, it’s equipped with DualBeam PLUS, sonar with a 4000 Watts PTP power output and a reliability down to 1500 ft. Side Imaging (reliable for down to 100 ft), and Down Imaging, which makes it ideal for different fishing styles.

About its Side Imaging and Down Imaging, I want to add here that you should use them at a steady speed to get a maximum volume of information about what’s underneath. Other than that, these features work just fine.

As for the GPS features, the Humminbird Fish Finder 798ci HD SI Combo has a 50 Channel GPS, it’s also endowed with the ContourXD mapping system like its bigger brothers, and also has the Chartplotting and Trackplotting features. This fish finder is, of course, compatible with the Navionics and LakeMaster charts, having a dual SD card slot. Also has the same memory of 50 routes, and 3000 waypoints and 50 tracks with 20,000 points each.

Hummingbirds Fish Finders - ION 12

Humminbird ION 12

Hummingbird Fish Finder ION 12

At the moment the ION 12 is the most advanced navigational and fish finding tool provided by Humminbird. The only reason it’s not number one in this top 5, is that its price is quite a little bit high, and many of its features are optional, and you’ll have to pay extra for them. Anyway, let’s see what this fish finder can do.

Maybe the most important feature to be mentioned about the Humminbird ION 12 is the TouchScreen (Cross-Touch) technology, and can easily be operated like a tablet or smartphone, undrestanding commands like tapping or swiping the screen. Needless to say, this adds a lot of ease to its use. The unit comes with a huge, 12.1-inch diagonal screen, with a 1024 x 768 pixel resolution, brilliant color (TFT, 16.7 mm colors), with backlight.

When it comes to it’s sonar capabilities, it’s very important to know that the unit does not come with a sonar module and a transducer. But it can be equipped with an SM1000, SM2000, or SM3000 sonar module and various types of transducers. The ION 12 supports Side Imaging, Down Imaging and 360 Imaging, but they depend on the transducer you equip it with, along with other options such as CHIRP technology, 3D Chart View, Selective Fish ID+, SwitchFire, Real Time Sonar RTS Window. The unit has a power output of 2000 Watts (RMS) / 16000 Watts (PTP).

The ION 12 has a GPS receiver, but other GPS and navigational features, such as trackplotting, chartplotting, GPS speed and precision GPS are all optional as well. It supports all the cartography packages though, so you can equip it with a Lakemaster, Navionics Platinum+, Gold or HotMaps card, or TriFuel Cartography. Its memory can store up to 3,000 waypoints, 50 tracks (20,000 points each) and up to 200 routes, like the majority of the Hummingbird fish finders.

So, basically the Hummingbird ION 12 is just an advanced fish finder head unit, but in order to turn it into an advanced fish finding, radar and navigational tool, you will have to make quite some additions to it.

Hummingbird Fish Finders - Number 5 Recommended

Humminbird 597ci HD DI Combo

(Discontinued by manufacturer)

Last but not least of the superior Hummingbird depth finders has to be the Humminbird 597ci HD DI Combo. Also, discontinued in 2013 along with the whole series, this unit is still available on Amazon and other dealers, with substantial discounts. You’ll still benefit from software update and tech support if you get one, even if they don’t make it anymore.

The 597ci HD DI Combo is a small unit, yet very handy. Has has a small color 5″ display, 640V x 640H with LED backlight.

Although it has only Down Imaging, it still comes with the DualBeam PLUS sonar and the SwitchFire Sonar so you can see separate sonar returns in Split Screen Zoom, for a better interpretation of the bottom. Images are pretty clear since it’s HD, and once you’re used to the DI type of display, this Humminbird will become an indispensable tool for finding fish.

This Humminbird Fish Finder also has the built-in cartography system as the 900 series of Hummingbird fishfinders have. Its included UniMap reflects the US coastline, inland waters and rivers. Also includes an over 3,000 US lake maps database, powered by Navionics. Therefore, you will be able to enhance your fishing and get better fishing results in the lakes or waters near your home, or basically wherever your fishing destination will be, in the U.S.

Last but not least, it has a memory of 3000 waypoints, 50 routes or 50 tracks w/ 20,000 points each.

The Hummingbird Fish Finders presented here are the most complete of each series. They are all indeed elite fish finding tools. They all come with various System Network options like CannonLink, but only the 800,900, 1100, ONIX and ION series are Ethernet compatible.

Ethernet is a connectivity solution to other Humminbird units, allowing your to share waypoints, routes, tracks, GPS position and even Sonar information. However, you won’t be able to get SI Sonar information on a Humminbird unit that’s not compatible with SI.

All in all these are all top-shelf Hummingbird fish finders and which will maximize your fishing experience. They all have 1 year warranty. As far as it concerns me, I don’t think you’ll ever regret of purchasing any of the Hummingbird Fish Finders reviewed here.

Hummingbird Fish Finder 386ci DI Combo Review

Humminbird 386ci DI Combo

The Humminbird 386ci DI Combo is one of the cheapest units with Down Imaging available at the moment. Although it’s a small unit, it does provide quite an assortment of features. It’s equipped with a LED backlight, brilliant color screen, 256 TFT, 3.5-inch, 320×240 pixel resolution, with a quick-disconnect, in-dash, mounting system for the head unit.

Has Dual Beam Plus sonar, with a coverage of 200 kHz / 25° or 455 kHz / 16° in SwitchFire, and 455 kHz / 75° or 800 kHz / 45° in Down Imaging, slightly different from its predecessor, the 385ci DI Combo. The power output of the 386ci DI Combo is 500 Watts (RMS) / 4000 Watts (PTP), making this unit viable for depths up to 600 feet, in SwitchFire mode, or 350 feet in Down Imaging mode.

Among the features useful for finding fish can also be enumerated the temperature indicator, the Selective Fish ID+ option which replaces the normal view, giving each fish an icon indicating its depth, and depth measuring function.

This unit can also be used as a navigational tool. It has Precision GPS, trackplotting and chartplotting properties. It can store up to 2,500 waypoints, 50 tracks (20,000 pts. each), and 50 routes. It comes with the built in UniMap package, which covers the U.S. in-land lakes and rivers, as well as the continental U.S. coastline. It features an SD card slot, and can be upgraded with a Navionics Gold, LakeMaster or HotMaps SD card.

Has one year warranty, like all the other fish finders from Humminbird.

Hummingbird Fish Finder 561 DI Review

Humminbird 561 DI

The Humminbird 561 DI is one of the cheapest models with Down Imaging. If you’re looking for a Humminbird unit strictly for finding fish, this might be it. Although it features only a black and white screen, 12 LvL Greyscale, it’s quite wide, 5-inch in diagonal, 320 x 320 pixel resolution. Evidently, it allows you to view both DI and classic sonar imaging in split screen.

It has Dual Beam Plus sonar, just as the Humminbird 561 simple, but the sonar capabilities are slightly different. It can operate at 200 kHz / 28° or 455 kHz / 16° in SwitchFire mode, or at 455 kHz / 75° and respectively 800 kHz / 45° in Down Imaging mode. This unit is capable of readings for depth up to 600 feet, while the Down Imaging features is reliable up to 300 feet.

Does not have any chartplotting capabilities, no waypoint memory, it’s not upgradable with an SD card. You actually get the basic fish finding options, plus Down Imaging, and that’s about it. However, its not a pricey unit.

Using Squid As Bait – A Few Things To Know

fishing-with-squidSquid is one of the best “all around” baits an angler can have. It’s quite effective, it’s fairly cheap, comes frozen and you won’t have to go through the trouble of keeping it alive (unless of course, you choose to fish with live squid). Squid strips also go very well in combination with other baits, creating very appealing presentations for various fish that you may target.

As rule of thumb, if you want to use squid as bait, it’s best to opt for the thickest squid “tubes” or “cones”. They should be available in supermarkets or tackle and bait shops. This type of squid is typically “ready-made”, cut and cleaned, and due to its higher thickness, it holds better on the hook.

In general, it’s best to cut the squid tubes into strips, on the whole lenght of the tube. Hook each strip through one of its ends, and leave a long tail on it. In case the strips / tubes aren’t thick enough to hold well on the hook, it’s best to pass the hook twice through the end of the strip, to ensure a better grip. Also, if you’re going with squid bigger strips, or even a half of a squid cone / tube, it’s a good idea to put a few cuts into the free end of the strip, to resemble tentacles, for a better presentation.

Squid strips can improve the presentation and effectiveness of various other dead, live or cut baits, and lures as well. For example, attaching a squid strip on the same hook with a minnow, it will make it look like a sick fish, with its guts out, a very tempting bait for other fish. Squid strip plus minnow (dead or live) is actually makes quite an excellent bait for flounder and other flatfish.

A squid strip can also help the minnow, shiner or any other small fish, hold better on the hook, if you add it too the hook after you have hooked the small fish. For example, by hooking a shiner through its eyes, it can easily come off, but if you close it with a squid piece, it will result in a “more stable” bait. This way you can also increase the hook stability of other baits, such as clam meat, or peeler crabs.

When fishing for spot, red drum, trout or blowfish, using annelids as bait, such as bloodworms, adding a small strip, or square of squid, usually makes for a better presentation. In this case though, it’s best to hook the worm in multiple places (even using 2-3 hooks), or nevertheless, to make sure none of it remains hanging. The squid strip will do the hanging for the final presentation, giving the fish a better, and more solid target to grab, without ripping the worm from the hook(s) on the first bite.

Using squid as bait, cut into strips usually works for any fish. If you target bigger game, such as sharks, kingfish or grouper, using whole Calamari squids is a better bet. In this case, it’s best to have the squid hooked through its head, dragging the tail up on the line, with the point and barb protruding out of the squid, somewhere under the eyes. This hooking though, it’s indicated only for dead squid, or for squid that you don’t plan to keep a live for long on the hook.

If you’re fishing with live squid, the correct hooking is by the tail, hooking it one or twice, depending on the size of the hook or the size of the squid.

First of all, SmartStrike is an additional software, available on an SD card, only for the Humminbird models in the ONIX and ION series. This software allows the user to look for fish by species, season, weather conditions, time of day and other criteria. It uses LakeMaster maps and highlights the areas where it’s most likely to find the fish you’re interested in, before you even start fishing. It’s actually a smart fishing guide, very useful on a lake where you’ve never been before, offering superior fish finding capabilities.

How to use SmartStrike

There are a couple of steps to follow in using this software.

Step 1: Instert the SmartStrike SD card into an available SD card slod of your fish finder.

Step 2: Go to the Home screen and select Settings.

Step 3: Select Chart and click on Humminbird Chart Card Info, then select the SD card slot where you have inserted the SmartStrike card. The reding should be Embedded Chart: No, Network Chart: No, Card Status: Valid Card.

Step 4: Return to the Home screen once more, and select one of the chart views. Select Chart in the upper left corner. Select SmartStrike in the new window that will open.

Step 5: Once you have opened your SmartStrike Menu, begin making the selections which fit to your fishing trip. For example, if you’re looking for a specific type of fish, select Species Search and from the list that will open, choose the species you’re interested in.

Step 6: To select a specific lake, go to Select a Lake and scroll until you find the lake you’re interested in.

Step 7: Make the other changes fitting to your trip, such as selecting the appropriate Season, Time of Day, Type of Area, Slope, Structure etc.

How to Catch Mahi-mahi – Tackle for Mahi-mahi

Bull Mahi MahiMahi-mahi, dorado or dolphin fish, are some of the most beautiful fish of the seas. They’re also some of the fastest growing fish, being able to reach their average 15-25 lb. weight in less than two years.

They’re sought by anglers for their size, beauty, and food quality, but mostly because the quality of their fishing. Also, they are the easiest to catch among the game, blue water fish. Once hooked, a mahi-mahi fights strenuously, with acrobatic jumps, similar to blue marlin.

Mahi-mahi fishing has its own particularities. So, here’s everything that you should know about mahi-mahi fishing, baits and tackle.

Mahi-mahi – Habitat and Habits

Mahi-mahi are surface-feeding fish, and can be found in the off-shore tropical, subtropical and temperate waters, but the higher concentrations can be found in the Caribbean Sea, Hawaii (mahi-mahi actually means “very strong” in Hawaiian), Gulf of Mexico, Pacific coast of Costa Rica, west coast of North and South America, Atlantic coast of Florida, South China Sea, West Africa, and various other areas.

They prefer the waters at the edges of reefs, close or in the Gulf Stream. The most common indicators for dolphin fish are sargasso weeds, floating wood, fronds, and other debris, and frigate birds.

Mahi-mahi are constantly on the move, looking for, or following schools of bait fish, but they’re always somewhere along the weedline.

Fishing Methods for Mahi-mahi

Mahi-mahi are off-shore fish, so evidently their fishing requires a boat. Dolphin fish are often caught as bycatch during tuna, swordfish or marlin fishing, when trolling surface baits. They can also be caught with various surface lures and / or flies, or actively fishing with cut bait, dead or live fish. Tossing live chum into the water to stimulate their appetite is also common practice in mahi fishing.

Kite fishing is also a method, typically used in Hawaii for mahi-mahi, and especially when fishing is done from the shore, but it can also be done from a boat.

Bait and Lures for Mahi-mahi

Dolphin fish are predators, and their diet consists of small fish, crustaceans and squid, or whatever small aquatic life forms take shelter in sargasso weeds, or in the weedline. They’re also specialized in hunting flying fish. The most used bait for mahi-mahi are ballyhoo, but once you find a school of mahi-mahi, they’ll basically hit any type of small fish you throw at them. So, get whatever bait fish are available, squid or even crabs and shrimp.

In terms of lures, multicolor squid imitations such as Stubby Bubblers and Bubble Jets are always welcome. Also, flying fish imitation lures from Charkbait can also make quite a killing, especially if you find the dolphins hunting in a school of flying fish.

Many anglers also use different combinations of lures and bait fish, to come up with a more alluring presentation.

Tackle for Mahi-mahi

Rods. Best rod choices when it comes to mahi fishing, are conventional, 7’6″ – 8’6″, 30lb. class, medium heavy or heavy power, and fast action. Shimano Terez or Trevala are great choices, but as a general idea, Trevala are rods for jigging, and might result in less longer casts than rods designed for popping.

An excellent choice can be a St. Croix AIS70HF or AIS76HF. However, if you don’t want to invest too much in a rod for mahi, an Ugly Stik Tiger BWS2201-2, or Tiger Lite Spinning Rod, can do the trick.

Reels. Most anglers would recommend an 8000-10000 size spinning reel. But I’d say that’s too much weight, especially if you don’t target 30lb+ mahi, and you’re not trolling. Therefore, a Shimano Saragosa 6000-8000, or basically any solid spinning reel in this size should fit to the job. For trolling, heavy baitcasters are better.

Line. 20-30lb. braided line, or 40lb. rated monofilament, are the best choices.

Terminal tackle. Terminal tackle should consists of 6 feet, 80lb. test monofilament, or 50-70lb. test wire, as other species, such as barracuda, or even sharks, may hit the bait, so it’s best to be prepared.

Lastly, the best hooks to use, are 7/0 – 8/0, circle hooks for live baiting, or J-hooks for trolling.

Photo courtesy to Jeff Weiss – 28 lb Bull Mahi Mahi caught in Islamorada, 2005 – source:

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