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Humminbird 987 CX SI - Combo


Humminbird 987 CX SI - GPS/ Chart Plotter / Sonar / Side Imaging Combo

Humminbird 987 CX SI GPS / Sonar Combo

Every once in a while a product comes along that just leaps and bounds above any other product on the market. THe Humminbird stable have exactly this in the Humminbird 987 CX SI. These high resolution units come standard with everything you need in a GPS Chart Plotter / Sonar combo.
Firstly I will explain all of the letters and numbers in the name.
987 = the model number
C = color unit. In this case 65 000 daylight viewable color variations possible.
X = Export unit from USA. Export units have extra features for metric systems eg meters, km & celcius.
SI = Side Imaging

The 987 CX SI are professional grade units deisgned for those who need the best information available of what is happening under the boat. The 987has a huge screen with loads of pixels (the little dots that make up the screen) at 480 vertical pixels x 854 pixels wide. It is a standard 2 dimentional fish finder with dual beams, one narrow beam (20 degree) high frequency beam for better bottom definition and a wider low frequency beam giving 74 degree coverage of the bottom, structure and fish. With 1000 watts of output power the 987 is capable of depths of 762 meters.

Side Imaging
The first thing that people notice on the 987 CX SI is the Side Imaging Technology. This is the key feature that sets the 987 apart from the pack.
In a nutshell, Side Imaging allows you to see a picture-like view of the bottom upto 73 meters / 240 feet (less if you like) on your choice of left, right or both sides of the boat simultaneously. The transducer uses Ultra-high frequencies of 455hKz or 262kHz to give optimal returns
If you were to take away the water and imagine you are directly above what you are seeing on the screen. It is night-time. Then a spotlight is turned on to the side and everything gets lit up. You can see every stump, snag, rock, fish, log, hill and hollow. Even the shadows show up to reveal the height of vertical stumps, rocks, pylons, pillars & posts.

Example. On the left you can see the Water intake tower at Lake Monduran (Fred Haigh Dam). On the right you can see how it looks on the 987 Side Imaging. On the Side Imaging you can clearly see the netal grates down at the bottom of the tower in over 20 meters / 60 feet of water. You can clearly see the BIG Barramundi suspended around the tower in around 7 meters / 20 feet of water. (Click on the images for larger versions)

In this example you can see Platypus Cliffs at Lake Wivenhoe on the left. This feature is dominated by sheer cliffs, caves, submerged rocks and fallen trees. With a normal 2D sounder you simply cannot see what is hiding down there. With the Side Imaging all is revealed.
- the school of bass sitting in a submerged cave.
- the iron bark trees that have fallen into the water.
- the view into the caves.

GPS Chartplotting
The GPS part of this package is feature packed. You can save upto 3000 waypoints, 50 routes, 50 tracks with 20 000 points in each track. You have full track plotting available and the option of 3D highway view (also called Bird's Eye View) where you can look at you postion from any angle, direction or height. This is a great tool for looking around at land masses, way points etc, You can even fly over the horizon, go as high at the Hubble Telescope or down to sea level.
The 987 CX SI has a built in Uni-Map which shows the Australian Coastline down to 4 nautical miles across the screen. There are even some lakes shown on there as well. For greater detail, tide info, navigation aids, spot soundings & depth contours along the coastline you will need a Navionics Gold chart.

As with almost all of the current ranges of Humminbird Combo units (Matrix, 700 & 900 Series), the 987 isnt just one part GPS & one part Sonar. These units hhave the capability to split screen many of the most favoured screen. You can split between the Side Imaging & GPS, 2D Sonar & Side Imaging etc and adjust the width of the split to your liking. The Humminbird are fully integrated and offer the ability to put a waypoint onto the screen by moving a cursor to the place on the bottom of the sonar or Side Imaging screen & then placing the waypoint. This also logs the depth of the mark, not just the lat & long.

Optional Extras
The 900 Series Humminbirds run on a windos based software package. This allows for easy addition of hardware just like adding a new mouse to your computer. Optional plug & Play features include a WeatherSense barometric pressure Monitor, SmartCast interface and GPS capability once an antennae is plugged in (for non-GPS Plotter standard units).

PC Software
And just like software on your computer, you can update the software on your unit as udates become available. You only need an optional cable from your Humminbird Dealer. All you need to do is go to the Humminbird.com website and download the free software and away you go.

The only limitations we found on these units is the depth capability of the Side Imaging which is a maximum of 25 meters / 75 feet.
The Side Imaging is not intended for use at speed or up on the plane, however we had one giving us moderate returns at 45 km/hr. The optimal spped for side imaging is around 12 knots max.

Best Applications:
- These units are fantastic at for seeing under undercut backs, docks, peirs and bridges to see what is lurking.
- Great for scanning for fish & structure in shallow water without taking the boat there & spooking the fish.
- Offshore fishing for pelagic fish and bait. The ability to scan 240 feet either side simultaneously can show you where the fish / bait are even when the birds arent working or the fish are busting up the surface.
- Reef fishing. Will show every nook & cranny where reef fish can hide.
- I even saw a CSIRO researcher using a 900 Series unit to do an Ultra-Sound on a cow with broken bones in its back. No Bull!! (Pardon the pun)

The Humminbird 987 CX SI lives upto its claims of high resolution images. It is very user friendly, fully servicable, packed with features and the bonus of the upgradable & expandable system will see these units retain their re-sale value for longer than average. I wasnt happy when I had to give the loan unit back. Retailing for just over $4000 the 987 CX SI is not toy, that for sure. However I'm sure those that invest in one of these units will be as blown away as I was when you see what they're capable of.

Related Links:
Humminbird USA
Humminbird Australia

Update: 2007
The Humminbird 987CXSI & 981CXSI have been replaced by the Humminbird 997CXSI. This is a Sonar / GPS / Chart Plotter/ Side Imaging combo.
The main differences are:

  • Larger screen by 1 inch diagonally, now 9 inch diagonal.
  • Better quality pixels, now fully daylight viewable
  • Will take Navionics Gold OR Platinum
  • Higher frequency on Side Imaging for even crisper on-screen images

Humminbird 797CXSI
There is also now a Side Imaging unit available in the Humminbird 700 Series.
The Humminbird 797CXSI is a 787CX with Side Imaging included. It is a basically a smaller version of the 997CXSI described above.

Garry Fitzgerald

Copyright© 2006 Garry Fitzgerald. Sweetwater Fishing Australia