Humminbird Fish Finder HELIX 12 CHIRP DI GPS Review



The Humminbird HELIX 12 CHIRP DI GPS shares many similarities with the smaller units, the HELIX 10 DI GPS and HELIX 9 DI GPS. However, it features several improvements over these units, and the most important one is the CHIRP sonar.

So, to begin with, let’s have a look at the sonar capabilities and the transducer supplied with this unit.

The HELIX 12 CHIRP DI GPS comes with the XNT 9 DI T transducer, which features a transom mount and incorporates a temperature sensor. Now, in case you’re wondering, this unit is able to use its CHIRP mode with the supplied transducer. But to be clear, it can only use CHIRP technology for its 2D sonar. Therefore, when it comes to CHIRP sonar, this unit has two modes, modulating pulse between 185-225 kHz and 440-490 kHz, in 2D. You can actually scan at cca 445 kHz in 2D mode, which offers a lot of detail, and excellent target separation. Of course, since it also uses DualBeam Plus sonar, it can also scan at 200/455 kHz without CHIRP, using classic, conical beams of 28°/16°. DualBeam plus also allows the use of both frequencies simultaneously, and you can view them both in split-screen.

For Down Imaging, it can also use two beams, but these are thin not conical similar to scanner beams, 75° wide for 455 kHz, and 45° for 800 kHz. The DI sonar doesn’t really need CHIRP though. The images are pretty clear, structure and bottom contours are easily distinguishable from fish.

This unit is also capable of 50 kHz and 83 kHz frequencies. Therefore, it can operate with a different 50/200 or 83/200 kHz transducer. With a dedicated, more powerful CHIRP transducer it can actually cover frequencies between 28-490 kHz. Also, it’s 360 Imaging capable.

With the supplied transducer, this unit has a depth capability of 600 ft for 2D, and 350 ft for Down Imaging. But with a more powerful transducer, and the power of CHIRP, you can actually scan depths up to 3,500 ft.

As the name of the unit suggests, it’s a GPS unit. It integrates a fast GPS/GLONASS module, which can provide accurate locks in a radius of 2.5 m. The unit also measures the boat’s speed via GPS. It can save up to 2,500 waypoints, 47 routes and 50 tracks. The background maps built-in the unit are the Humminbird ContourXD. These don’t exactly offer the detail of Navionics or LakeMaster charts, but they do cover more than 3,000 U.S. lakes with contour lines, major roads, markers and other points of interest. The unit is however, compatible with Navionics Platinum+, Gold/HotMaps, and LakeMaster charts.

One of the best navigation related features of this unit is the AutoChart Live. This feature actually allows you to create your own charts, revealing the contour depth lines of the bottom of the body of water where you’re fishing, based on the sonar returns. Also, in case you have a Minn Kota Ulterra, Terrova or PowerDrive V2 motor on your boat, you can connect it to the unit, and enable the boat to follow any of the depth contours created via AutoChart. This unit is also AIS and RADAR capable.

The control unit features a 12.1″ display, LED backlit and IPX7 waterproof. It has a pixel matrix of 1280 x 800 offering clear imaging, and well-defined contours. It’s 25% faster than the previous 1100 units due to the superior processor. Also, the display features optical bonding, which along with the backlighting, supplies excellent readability.

In terms of connectivity, it has a dual SD card reader, for sonar recording, data transfer and backup. Ethernet, NMEA 0183 and NMEA 2000 connectivity is also available.

An finally, just like the other units in the HELIX 9, 10 and 12 series, this one features wireless control. It comes with a 7 digits remote, through which you can control many of its functions from the distance, without touching the unit.