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Field Tested: Humminbird ICE HELIX Ice-Fishing Bundles

Humminbird's extensive line offers everything a diehard ice angler could want on the hardwater.

Field Tested: Humminbird ICE HELIX Ice-Fishing Bundles

The Humminbird ICE HELIX bundles give anglers all the fish finding tools they need out on the ice. (Photo courtesy of Humminbird)

As temperatures across many northern states have started dropping with the latest cold fronts, many of us may be anxiously awaiting the start of the ice-fishing season. While it could be a week or two (or more like a month, depending on where you're located), for those in areas that typically see solid ice form, things should be kicking off soon. Right now, many eager anglers are gathering up gear so that they're ready for action when the party starts.

Among the most important pieces of gear these days is a quality electronics unit, which can boost your fishing productivity exponentially. Today's crop of fish finders and transducers offer incredible capabilities that can make just about any angler more successful on the ice. And, even better, more and more manufacturers are introducing models and arrangements tailor-made for ice fishing.

Last season, I was fortunate enough to test out several newer Humminbird ICE HELIX models falling into this "purpose-made ice fishing electronics" category while fishing on Minnesota's famed Mille Lacs Lake. Although the fishing itself was on the tougher side, we did manage a few keepers, and I got to put the new ICE HELIX units to use on the ice. Through the course of a few days of fishing, all the electronics performed well and left me impressed.

Humminbird ICE HELIX
Photo courtesy of Humminbird

READY FOR THE ICE

One of the most noticeable changes with Humminbird's ICE HELIX lineup comes in the form of its new premium ice shuttle design. Crafted based on input from accomplished ice anglers and guides, this shuttle offers a streamlined, portable and customizable platform that conveniently holds everything you need. It now comes standard with all new ICE HELIX 7 G4 and ICE HELIX 9 G4N models (the ICE HELIX 5 units have a soft-sided carrying case and shuttle mount), and it's also available as a standalone accessory if you want to convert an existing HELIX 7, 8, 9 or 10 CHRIP model for hardwater use.


There's a lot to like with this package. It has a large carrying handle, which is perfect if you're wearing gloves and/or hole hopping a lot to find or stay on a bite. The shuttle's bottom also has a nice, tacky surface that keeps it from sliding all over the place on the ice. More than these niceties, though, is simply how well thought out everything on it is.


A master power switch allows you to turn the power on and off without disconnecting the battery, which can save time when packing up or moving to a new spot. And quick-connect SAE power cables allow the user to power the unit and optional accessories using quick-disconnect leads and charge the battery without removing any connections. A compartment at the rear of the shuttle also offers a velcro enclosure that stays shut to keep your battery protected from the elements. A moveable transducer cup, meanwhile, helps manage cable. You can easily adjust the length of cable as needed to match ice thickness or the distance to the water if you're fishing out of a wheelhouse.

The shuttle also comes with two built-in rod holders on each side. However, with its multiple 1/4”-20 mounting points, you can customize the unit with additional accessories, including more rod holders if you desire. Some of the shuttles we utilized on the ice were set up with phone or GoPro mounts. It’s entirely up to the user what goes on there.

Bottom line: The new shuttle makes for a very convenient—and secure—package out on the ice. The things you need are accessible, protected and ready to travel when you are.

Humminbird ICE HELIX Bundles
Available bundles range from those including essentials like Dual Spectrum CHIRP sonar up to those offering high-end MEGA Live Imaging. (Photo courtesy of Humminbird)

COMPELLING CAPABILITIES

Of course, the redesigned shuttle is—both literally and figuratively—just scratching the surface when it comes to what the Humminbird ICE HELIX units offer hardwater anglers. Aside from the HELIX 5 units, the new models come with a Norsk 15Ah (HELIX 7 G4 bundles) or 20Ah (HELIX 9 G4N bundles) lithium-ion battery. The G4 and G4N units also utilize a quality 1024x600 display (7 inches for G4 models and 9 inches for G4Ns).




All ICE HELIX products come with Dual Spectrum CHIRP sonar standard, and most include some sort of built-in GPS and mapping capabilities (aside from the ICE HELIX 5 CHIRP G3).

The Dual Spectrum CHIRP sonar provides 3/4-inch target separation, meaning it can better distinguish fish from surrounding habitat. It also comes with six CHIRP interference rejection settings, perfect for situations where multiple anglers with sonar units are fishing in close proximity. All models have adjustable 16x sonar zoom, 1024 segment flasher view and split screen sonar views (flasher and 2D).

On the mapping side, every unit from the ICE HELIX 5 CHIRP GPS G3 and up has the built-in Humminbird Basemap, at least one MicroSD slot for LakeMaster or Navionics charts and the ability to mark waypoints. They also include Humminbird’s excellent AutoChart Live Ice feature, which helps you build a more accurate picture of the structure below through sonar readings from multiple drilled holes.

Recommended


While I already had HD contours of Mille Lacs Lake on my phone through Humminbird’s FishSmart app (which is itself impressive), AutoChart Live Ice is an especially useful tool on smaller lakes that may not have dedicated LakeMaster or Navionics charts. I don’t think the benefit of accurate mapping tools for fishing can be overstated, whether you’re fishing the ice or open water; they are crucial for identifying productive bottom structures like rockpiles, reefs, drop-offs and others. So, it’s great that most of the newer ICE HELIX units incorporate this technology—and that it’s so intuitive to use.

Humminbird Shuttle
The new premium ice shuttle makes it easy to stay mobile out on the ice. Everything is organized, secure and in one place. Just strap it down to a snowmobile, ATV or sled and get after it. (Photo by Drew Warden)

THE LATEST AND GREATEST

At the top of Humminbird’s ICE HELIX lineup, of course, are those units offering some of the newest and most powerful fish finding technologies. Namely, two models that offer live sonar (ICE HELIX 9 MSI+ GPS G4N MEGA Live bundle) or MEGA 360 Imaging (ICE HELIX 9 MSI+ GPS G4N MEGA 360 bundle). These two bundles come with the applicable transducer (MEGA Live or MEGA 360), a shaft to support it and the adapter kit, which includes a base, handle, adjustable depth collar and custom power and ethernet cables. Both models offer networking capabilities (Ethernet, Bluetooth, NMEA 2000 and Wi-Fi).

MEGA Live Imaging allows you to see fish, bait and structure in real time with constant sonar returns. You can see which direction and how fish are moving, as well as how they’re reacting to your bait. This means you can tweak your presentation as needed to seal the deal.

The MEGA Live Imaging sonar has three different viewing modes: Down, Forward and Landscape. Down mode is perfect for observing fish directly beneath you and for fine-tuning your presentations based on how fish are behaving. Forward and Landscape modes, meanwhile, are extremely helpful in extending your range to see what is around the hole you’ve drilled. They’re both powerful locating tools while hole hopping in search of schooling fish.

MEGA 360 Imaging, meanwhile, is a Humminbird-exclusive technology that offers a constantly updating 360-degree field of view of what’s below the ice. It’s a great tool for finding structure and fish and tracking schools of fish on the move—all while drilling fewer holes. One very nice feature is that you can mark a waypoint (a fish for example) directly on your MEGA 360 Imaging screen and use range rings to determine how far away that waypoint is. Then you can simply grab your gear, move to that spot, drill a hole, swap to standard 2D sonar and/or the flasher view and you’re in business.

Ice Fishing Walleye
Humminbird’s premium shuttle for its new ICE HELIX bundles has two rod holders and a transducer cup to help manage cable and keep you mobile out on the ice. (Photo courtesy of Humminbird)

HARDWATER HELPERS

All in all, there’s just a lot to like with these newer Hummbird ICE HELIX bundles if you’re a serious hardwater angler. The specially designed shuttles make lugging a sonar unit across the ice easy and organized. Meanwhile, the incredible sonar (whether Dual Spectrum CHIRP, MEGA Live or MEGA 360) and mapping tools place astonishing power right at your hands. While there are lots of sonar units on the market, dedicated ice-anglers seeking to gain an edge this season—and in future seasons—should give this improved line of ICE HELIX bundles a strong look. For more detailed product specifications, including pricing, on any of the newer ICE HELIX options or adapter and conversion kits, see the information below.

ICE HELIX 9 MSI+ GPS G4N MEGA Live Bundle

  • 9” 1024 x 600 display
  • 8000 watts peak-to-peak power
  • 1500 nit brightness screen
  • High-capacity battery (with 2 USB ports, battery % indicator) and charger
  • New shuttle
  • Silicone screen cover
  • MEGA Live transducer, shaft, adapter kit
  • MSRP: $3,099.99
  • MEGA Live Imaging
  • Live sonar with the clarity of MEGA Imaging
  • Choose from multiple viewing modes: Down, forward and landscape
  • Mark and view waypoints on the MEGA Live sonar screen
  • Range of up to 150 feet
  • No necessity for a sonar black box
  • Dual Spectrum CHIRP Sonar
  • 3/4” target separation
  • 1024 segment flasher view
  • Six CHIRP interference rejection settings
  • Adjustable sonar zoom, up to 16X
  • Split screen sonar views (Flasher and 2D)
  • Built-in GPS and Mapping
  • Mark waypoints
  • Built-in HB Basemap
  • Dual SD Slots for LakeMaster / Navionics / AutoChart Live cards
  • AutoChart Live Ice
  • Networking
  • Ethernet, Bluetooth, NMEA 2000® and Wi-Fi
Ice Fishing with Humminbird
MEGA Live Imaging is a potent tool on the ice. You can scan directionally with Forward or Landscape modes to see what’s around your hole, or you can see real-time reactions of fish to your baits below with the Down mode. (Photo by Drew Warden)

Humminbird ICE HELIX 9 MSI+ GPS G4N MEGA 360 Bundle

  • 9" 1024 x 600 display with 1500 nit brightness screen
  • 8000 watts peak-to-peak power
  • High-capacity battery (with 2 USB ports, battery % indicator) and charger
  • New shuttle
  • Silicone screen cover
  • MEGA 360 transducer, shaft, adapter kit, heading sensor GPS puck
  • MSRP: $2,899.99
  • MEGA 360 Imaging
  • Range of up to 125 feet around your hole
  • Adjustable sweep area, size and direction
  • Mark and view waypoints on the MEGA 360 sonar screen
  • Range rings provide a quick reference of your distance from the target
  • Dual Spectrum CHIRP Sonar
  • 3/4" target separation
  • 1024 segment flasher view
  • Six CHIRP interference rejection settings
  • Adjustable sonar zoom, up to 16X
  • Split screen sonar views (Flasher and 2D)
  • Built-in GPS and Mapping
  • Mark waypoints
  • Built-in HB Basemap
  • Dual SD Slots for LakeMaster / Navionics / AutoChart Live cards
  • AutoChart Live Ice
  • Networking
  • Ethernet, Bluetooth, NMEA 2000. and Wi-Fi
MEGA Live and MEGA 360
MEGA Live and MEGA 360 are both powerful fish finding technologies on their own but are even deadlier paired together. Use MEGA 360 to quickly find fish and structure and move to that location. Then use MEGA Live to see how they react to your bait. (Photo by Drew Warden)

Humminbird ICE HELIX 7 CHIRP GPS G4 All Season

  • Higher resolution HD display (1024 x 600)
  • 4000 Watts Peak-to-Peak power
  • 7” 1024 x 600 color TFT display
  • 1500 nit brightness screen
  • 15Ah Lithium Battery
  • Shuttle mount, hardware, transducer and silicone screen cover
  • Includes open water accessories (Gimbal bracket, power cable, XNT 9 HW T transducer and transducer suction cup mount)
  • MSRP: $1,049.99
  • Dual Spectrum CHIRP Sonar
  • 3/4” target separation
  • 1024 segment flasher view
  • Six CHIRP interference rejection settings
  • Adjustable sonar zoom, up to 16x
  • Split screen sonar views (Flasher and 2D)
  • Built-in GPS and Mapping
  • Mark waypoints
  • Built-in HB basemap
  • MicroSD slot for Lakemaster/Navionics charts
  • AutoChart Live Ice

Humminbird ICE HELIX 7 CHIRP GPS G4

  • Higher resolution HD display (1024 x 600)
  • 4000 Watts Peak-to-Peak power
  • 7” 1024 x 600 color TFT display
  • 1500 nit brightness screen
  • 15Ah Lithium Battery
  • Shuttle mount, hardware, transducer and silicone screen cover
  • MSRP: $949.99
  • Dual Spectrum CHIRP Sonar
  • 3/4” target separation
  • 1024 segment flasher view
  • Six CHIRP interference rejection settings
  • Adjustable sonar zoom, up to 16x
  • Split screen sonar views (Flasher and 2D)
  • Built-in GPS and Mapping
  • Mark waypoints
  • Built-in HB basemap
  • MicroSD slot for Lakemaster/Navionics charts
  • AutoChart Live Ice

Humminbird ICE HELIX 5 CHIRP GPS G3 All Season

  • 4000 Watts Peak-to-Peak power
  • 5” 800H x 480V color TFT display
  • 1500 nit brightness screen
  • Shuttle mount, hardware, transducer, soft sided carrying bag, 12V 9AH SLA battery & charger
  • Includes open water accessories (Gimbal bracket, power cable, XNT 9 HW T transducer and transducer suction cup mount)
  • MSRP: $619.99
  • Dual Spectrum CHIRP Sonar
  • 3/4" target separation
  • 1024 segment flasher view
  • Six CHIRP interference rejection settings
  • Adjustable sonar zoom, up to 16X
  • Split screen sonar views (Flasher and 2D)
  • Built-in GPS and Mapping
  • Mark waypoints
  • Built-in HB Basemap
  • MicroSD Slot for LakeMaster / Navionics charts
  • AutoChart Live Ice

Humminbird ICE HELIX 5 CHIRP GPS G3

  • 4000 Watts Peak-to-Peak power
  • 5” 800H x 480V color TFT display
  • 1500 nit brightness screen
  • Shuttle mount, hardware, transducer, soft sided carrying bag, 12V 9AH SLA battery & charger
  • MSRP: $519.99
  • Dual Spectrum CHIRP Sonar
  • 3/4" target separation
  • 1024 segment flasher view
  • Six CHIRP interference rejection settings
  • Adjustable sonar zoom, up to 16X
  • Split screen sonar views (Flasher and 2D)
  • Built-in GPS and Mapping
  • Mark waypoints
  • Built-in HB Basemap
  • MicroSD Slot for LakeMaster / Navionics charts
  • AutoChart Live Ice

Humminbird ICE HELIX 5 CHIRP G3

  • 4000 Watts Peak-to-Peak power
  • 5” 800H x 480V color TFT display
  • 1500 nit brightness screen
  • Shuttle mount, hardware, transducer, soft sided carrying bag, 12V 9AH SLA battery & charger
  • MSRP: $419.99
  • Dual Spectrum CHIRP Sonar
  • 3/4" target separation
  • 1024 segment flasher view
  • Six CHIRP interference rejection settings
  • Adjustable sonar zoom, up to 16X
  • Split screen sonar views (Flasher and 2D)
Humminbird Ice Fishing
The shuttle’s 1/4"-20 mounting points allow you to attach a variety of accessories, including a GoPro. (Photo by Drew Warden)

ICE Adapter Kit – MEGA Live

  • MEGA Live ICE Adapter for HELIX 7 G4N, 8, 9 or 10 with MSI or MDI
  • Includes all accessories needed to convert a MEGA Live Imaging transducer for ice fishing
  • Shaft, base, handle and adjustable depth collar, custom power and ethernet cables
  • MSRP: $499.99

ICE Adapter Kit – MEGA 360

  • MEGA 360 ICE ADAPTER for 8-10 G3N/G4N models with MEGA Imaging
  • Includes all accessories needed to convert a MEGA 360 Imaging transducer for ice fishing
  • Includes a base, shaft positioning handle, depth collars, height adjustment and GPS Heading Sensor
  • MSRP: $499.99

HELIX ICE Conversion Kit – MEGA Live

  • Includes everything needed to convert a HELIX 7 G4N, 8, 9, or 10 with MSI or MDI for ice fishing with MEGA Live Imaging
  • MEGA Live transducer, shuttle, shaft, base, handle, and adjustable depth collar, custom power and ethernet cables, and a 20Ah lithium battery kit
  • MSRP: $2,499.99

HELIX ICE Conversion Kit – MEGA 360

  • Includes everything needed to convert a HELIX 8, 9, or 10 G4N with MSI or MDI for ice fishing with MEGA 360 Imaging
  • MEGA 360 transducer, shuttle, base, shaft positioning handle, depth collars, height adjustment, GPS Heading Sensor and a 20Ah lithium battery kit
  • MSRP: $2,099.99

HELIX ICE Conversion Kit

  • Accessory Ice Shuttle for Helix 7, 8, 9, 10 CHIRP models
  • Includes premium shuttle, mounting hardware and CHIRP ICE transducer (Battery and charger sold separately)
  • MSRP: $409.99

ICE PTC CHIRP H5 FB

  • ICE Conversion kit with CHIRP ICE transducer and shuttle for HELIX 5/7 CHIRP models, G2 and newer
  • Includes bag, shuttle and mounting hardware and CHIRP transducer (Battery and charger sold separately)
  • MSRP: $259.99

ICE PTC XI 9 20 H57

  • ICE Conversion kit with XI 9 20 ICE transducer and shuttle for HELIX 5/7 non-CHIRP models
  • Includes bag, shuttle and mounting hardware and standard Dual Beam CHIRP
  • ICE transducer (Battery and charger sold separately)
  • MSRP: $259.99

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