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Do I "need" side imaging?

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I am looking to upgrade my fish finder and really like the side imaging things I have seen and read. What is not clear is how useful it would really be to me. I almost exclusively fish a local resevoir that is 55' deep at the most. I tend to be in coves in 15' or less casting toward shore. Coves are less than 50 yards wide at the mouth. I have a 12' jon boat with a sub-$100 finder currently. I would like to find fish easier and see structure more clearly. Will I get that much extra benefit out of SI vs a nice system with down scan sonar? I tend to go to a cove and stay there for an jour or more before moving to another spot, which may be an issue in itself. I am looking for bass if that helps. Also, is there such a thing as a "budget" si unit, or do they all start around $400 (which is a stretch for me)?Thanks for the feedback.

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Hummingbird helix 5 is right around that $400 price range. It gets you down/side imaging and gps. Anything you can do with a down imaging you can do with a side imaging. The side imaging just makes it easier to see off to the side without having to roll over the cover and spook fish. There is an advantage to the SI but I wouldn't say its necessary. The GPS is the most important part though. It gets pretty annoying draining a phone battery to figure out exactly where you are on a contour line. At any rate my buddy has used this website in the past to purchase his units. He had no issues but I'm always skeptical of cheap deals/ markdowns online.  http://universalmania.com/humminbird-859ci-hd-di-combo/  http://universalmania.com/humminbird-698ci-hd-si-combo/   http://universalmania.com/humminbird-698ci-hd-si-kvd-nav-combo-side-imaging-tm-transducer-kvd-edition/  

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I'm still learning the electronics game, but side imaging has some pretty sweet benefits, especially if you start fishing new water.  My brother has one of the high end Lowrance units with side scan/side imaging on his center console, and it's crazy how much more efficiently you can learn a piece of water.  

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You don't really "need" any type of depth/fish finder...folks caught fish for years without them.  But they are a very useful tool to help understand what is under and around you on a given body of water.  Anything that gives you a "picture" of the bottom is helpful if you take the time to learn.  Simply slapping a DI or SI unit on your boat won't make you a better fisherman.  As with anything worthwhile, you will need to put some time in to learn what the unit is showing you.  But, you will be amazed by what you have missed or what you thought the bottom looked like compared to what a SI unit will show you. 

A 2D sonar only shows what is in the one below you.  A SI unit can show you what below and next to you out to 120' or more.  It can show you how deep an object is and how far away it is.  If equipped with GPS you can "mark" that location and go back to it repeatedly. 

I recently picked up two SI units and have been having a blast learning the lake I have fished repeatedly for several years.

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6 hours ago, tbone1993 said:

Hummingbird helix 5 is right around that $400 price range. It gets you down/side imaging and gps. Anything you can do with a down imaging you can do with a side imaging. The side imaging just makes it easier to see off to the side without having to roll over the cover and spook fish. There is an advantage to the SI but I wouldn't say its necessary. The GPS is the most important part though. It gets pretty annoying draining a phone battery to figure out exactly where you are on a contour line. At any rate my buddy has used this website in the past to purchase his units. He had no issues but I'm always skeptical of cheap deals/ markdowns online.  http://universalmania.com/humminbird-859ci-hd-di-combo/  http://universalmania.com/humminbird-698ci-hd-si-combo/   http://universalmania.com/humminbird-698ci-hd-si-kvd-nav-combo-side-imaging-tm-transducer-kvd-edition/  

Those prices for those units are because they are discontinued models and are on CLOSE-OUT sale. All dealers are doing the same including the big box sporting goods places like Bass Pro and Cabelas.

The discontinued 10" Side Imaging units were on sale for about $1000 less than MSRP by several dealers.

The Helix series is replacing all the number series models.

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I have the Helix 5 DI SI GPS  and it's fantastic for finding structure you didn't know was there. I have yet to see any fish on the side imaging it but I'm still learning. If you buy it thinking you can cruse buy a cove and see if there are any bass there I would skip it. Maybe the screen on the 5 is just too small to see bass size fish.. I don't know. The down imaging is very very good and I see fish in deeper water with no problem. I've even identified a catfish on a hump, dropped a line and caught him. The GPS is needed to mark a spot and be able to return to it exactly. I've used it a lot. Humminbird has come out with two larger versions and there's already been a price drop on the 5. You might be able to pick one up used as people upgrade if you are patient in the flea market.

Hope this helps.

 

-Danny

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2 hours ago, Bass Turd said:

I have the Helix 5 DI SI GPS  and it's fantastic for finding structure you didn't know was there. I have yet to see any fish on the side imaging it but I'm still learning. If you buy it thinking you can cruse buy a cove and see if there are any bass there I would skip it. Maybe the screen on the 5 is just too small to see bass size fish.. I don't know. The down imaging is very very good and I see fish in deeper water with no problem. I've even identified a catfish on a hump, dropped a line and caught him. The GPS is needed to mark a spot and be able to return to it exactly. I've used it a lot. Humminbird has come out with two larger versions and there's already been a price drop on the 5. You might be able to pick one up used as people upgrade if you are patient in the flea market.

Hope this helps.

 

-Danny

The Helix 5 series is not being replaced and any price below MSRP has nothing to do with the other models. There are additional Helix series models with larger displays. Helix 7, Helix 9, Helix 10, and Helix 12. That makes 5 levels of the Helix series. Those units replaced all the number series models for the 2016 model year.

The Helix 5 series was just the first of that series released.

ANY of them probably can be purchased below MSRP by shopping with a marine electronics dealer rather than a big box general sporting goods place like BPS or Cabelas.

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BTW, there is no such model as the Helix 5 DI SI GPS. The SI version is Helix 5 SI GPS. There are nine models of the Helix 5.

To see small stuff like fish, use a shorter SI range and/or choose to view only one side of the SI view. For the most detail use a SI Range setting that is three times the depth. That will give you 1/3 the display as the water column and 2/3 for the display for the bottom.

The Helix 5 screens are better than the square screen 5" units for Side Imaging due to the width. I have a 5" square screen SI unit and I can see fish easily with it when properly adjusted.

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1 hour ago, Wayne P. said:

BTW, there is no such model as the Helix 5 DI SI GPS. The SI version is Helix 5 SI GPS. There are nine models of the Helix 5.

To see small stuff like fish, use a shorter SI range and/or choose to view only one side of the SI view. For the most detail use a SI Range setting that is three times the depth. That will give you 1/3 the display as the water column and 2/3 for the display for the bottom.

The Helix 5 screens are better than the square screen 5" units for Side Imaging due to the width. I have a 5" square screen SI unit and I can see fish easily with it when properly adjusted.

Wayne P.- You are correct.... sort of.... While DI isn't in the actual name of the product... the unit does have Down Imaging along with Side Imaging and GPS. 

Thank you for the other tips. 

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1 hour ago, Bass Turd said:

Wayne P.- You are correct.... sort of.... While DI isn't in the actual name of the product... the unit does have Down Imaging along with Side Imaging and GPS. 

Thank you for the other tips. 

ALL Humminbird Side Imaging units except the ONIX/ION have a Down Imaging view that is generated blending the two SI pulses. That Down Imaging is not like the Down Imaging of a Down Imaging unit which uses a dedicated Down Imaging crystal in the transducer.

 

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I learned importance of si during a club tournament when my boater showed me a spot he found with it that produced numerous 5+

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