Get crystal clear sonar images to see every creature that’s under or near your vessel, charts to know where you’re fishing, and a global positioning system to navigate to and from them all.
Having a fish finder is the only way to truly know what is lurking underneath your vessel while you’re fishing. Without one, you’ll spend your days guessing and wasting time trying spots that look good on the surface but are as barren as a desert on the bottom.
With fishfinders like the Echomap Plus series from Garmin, the underwater world becomes as clear as day. You’ll be able to see the bottom contours on charts, use the positioning system to know the exact contours you’re fishing and navigate around them, and use the multiple sonar technologies to see what fish and fishy areas are underneath you.
In this Garmin Echomap Plus review, we look at all the features across the series that’ll help you navigate and find fish on your home waters or any other areas you plan on fishing from connectivity to chirp, quickdraw and transducer items – saving you from scouring the comments sections from socials of the fishing community trying to understand what sets it apart from other fish finders.
Things to consider before buying an Echomap Plus
Does the Echomap Plus have a touchscreen?
All Echomap Plus 7 and 9 models come with a touchscreen that makes navigating through the features super easy. The other models have a keypad that isn’t quite as easy to use as a touchscreen but they are more affordable than the touchscreen models.
Does the Echomap Plus have GPS?
Yes, every model comes with a GPS system that will give you an accurate position to within 20 meters. You can use it to save tracks, create maps, and mark waypoints of any fishing spots, harbors, hazards, and more.
The GPS system also offers the SailAssist that shows laylines, enhanced wind rose, heading and course-over-ground lines.
Can you use maps with the Garmin Echomap?
Yes, every model is compatible with Lakevü HD G3, Bluchart G3 (coastal maps), and Navionics. Each of these contour maps shows you detailed maps of the bottom contours of over 17000 lakes and reservoirs plus coastal coverage depending on the chart you buy.
How deep does the Echomap Plus sonar go?
Every unit has a depth capability of 2,300 ft in freshwater and 1,100 ft in saltwater which is more than enough for any form of fishing in oceans and lakes unless you’re targeting some deep-sea creature, you might want to choose a fish finder with higher depth capability.
Do the units come with Wi-Fi connectivity?
Yes, every unit bar the Echomap Plus 4 models come with wi-fi and Bluetooth. You can connect the fish finder to your smartphone to get smart notifications on the fish finder display and use the Active Captain app to download charts and access local points of interest as well as share data with the Quickdraw self-mapping community.
Who should buy an Echomap Plus?
The Echomap Plus units are perfect for anyone who fishes from any vessel. The smaller models are great for kayaks and small boats while the larger units suit center consoles and even sport fishers that go way offshore.
With one of these fishfinders, you get crystal clear sonar images to see every creature that’s under or near your vessel, charts to know where you’re fishing, and a global positioning system to navigate to and from them all.
Who shouldn’t buy an Echomap Plus fish finder?
Anyone looking for a truly portable option that they can use from the shore, while ice fishing, or take home with them each day should not go for this series. These fishfinders are not made to be portable and if you’re looking for a portable unit, the Garmin Striker 4 is a great option.
Get crystal clear sonar images to see every creature that’s under or near your vessel, charts to know where you’re fishing, and a global positioning system to navigate to and from them all.
With an Echomap Plus fish finder on your vessel, you’ll be able to plan every fishing trip by looking at the charts, make a route and mark great areas with the global positioning system, and if there’s something worth catching under your vessel the sonar will show you exactly what depth it’s at. These fishfinders make seeing and understanding the underwater world a piece of cake.
What models do you have to choose from?
To choose the right Echomap plus fish finder model for you, you’ll need to understand what models are available and what feature set comes with each one. Below you’ll find a list of the available models and an understanding of what feature set is included with them based on their names.
NOTEEvery model comes with a transducer, GPS, charts, Echomap CHIRP sonar, and Clearvü sonar.
- Echomap Plus 44cv
- Echomap Plus 63cv
- Echomap Plus 64cv
- Echomap Plus 73sv
- Echomap Plus 73cv
- Echomap Plus 74sv
- Echomap Plus 93sv
Understanding the models
As you can see from the list above, each fish finder model has a different combination of numbers and letters which denotes the feature set each model comes with.
The first number indicates the screen size in inches and whether the unit comes with a touchscreen and or wi-fi. Every unit, bar the 4 models, have wi-fi, and every 7 or 9 models come with a touchscreen.
The second number lets you know which charts come preloaded, 3 models come with Lakevü HD G3 charts preloaded, and 4 models come with Bluechart G3 preloaded maps.
Every CV fish finder model comes with Echomap CHIRP sonar and CHIRP ClearVu for enhanced downscan imaging, while every SV model has Echomap CHIRP sonar, CHIRP ClearVü, and SideVu CHIRP that shows you images of what’s on either side of your boat as well as under it.
Picking the right model for you
The major points to consider are which charts you want, how large a screen you want, whether you want a touchscreen, wi-fi, and if you want the SideVü CHIRP feature. Remember though, the larger the unit and the more it does, the more expensive it will be.
Larger screens are easier to see, but when on smaller vessels like kayaks, having a small display on your fishing kayak setup is useful as they don’t take up too much space.
Touchscreens make it easier to use the unit and navigate through the software compared to the traditional method of pressing buttons or keypads, but you do have to pay a premium for it and it only comes on larger models.
Having wi-fi is a useful addition, but again, while kayaking, you’re going to have your phone hidden away so it doesn’t get wet or dropped overboard while you’re fishing.
SideVu sonar technology is great but seeing what’s beneath your boat is enough for most, so whether you get SideVu sonar or not comes down to budget and whether you want to spend a bit extra for it. It is useful to know what’s to the side of your boat too.
LakeVü HD G3 charts only have charts of lakes, rivers, and reservoirs and are ideal for anyone who fishes in freshwater only. Whereas, Bluechart G3 includes the US coastal maps.
TIPIf you only go fishing in freshwater go for a LakeVü HD G3 model, whereas if you go in the ocean go for the Bluechart G3 models.
Which is the best model?
The best Echomap models are the Echomap Plus 93 sv or the 74sv. These models have wi-fi, a touchscreen, a large display, SideVu imaging, and come with Bluecharts that cover everything from freshwater to saltwater.
- Accurate positioning system and navigation features
- Supports CHIRP, Clearvü, and SideVu
- Fish symbols, bottom lock, shallow water alarms, water temperature graphs, & tide tables
- Includes LakeVü HD G3 or Bluechart G3 contour maps
- Quickdraw Contours feature.
- Selfmaps with Quickdraw software.
- Micro SD card slot for expandable memory
- Wireless connectivity for easy updates and free ActiveCaptain app
- Sonar recording, and sonar history rewind
- Panoptix sonar capable
- Easy to use and install
- Instructions are a little unclear
- Comes with no NMEA 2000 adapter data cable
The Echomap Series Features And Their Benefits
How good is the Display?
All the Echomap Plus fish finders come with a sunlight-readable color display with adaptive brightness, meaning that no matter the light conditions, you can clearly read the screen with ease. Even when fishing in direct sunlight, you can choose a brighter setting which would prevent the sunlight from washing out the image.
All the units have a screen with a pixel resolution of 480 x 272 pixels as a minimum that provides excellent contrast so you can easily see the different colors on the sonar images making it simple to differentiate between everything that the sonar picks up. You’ll be able to tell if you’re looking at fishes or debris, or the bottom or a sunken tree where fishes might hang out.
Every display unit on the fishfinders is also waterproof to a rating of IPX7. This means it can be submerged for 30 minutes at a maximum depth of 1 meter so it’ll survive any splashes or accidental capsizes on a kayak with ease.
What can the sonar really do?
Echomap CHIRP Sonar
All the fish finders in the Echomap plus series come with CHIRP sonar technology. CHIRP (Compressed High-Intensity Radiated Pulse) sonar gives you the most detailed 2D sonar images of the entire water column. CHIRP is perfect for trolling with and exploring areas when trying to find good fishing spots.
CHIRP works by sending out multiple sonar frequencies, both high and low to build a detailed image from the bottom of the water to the surface. This means the sonar pulse is modulated over a frequency range rather than just being one frequency, therefore providing better images, less clutter on the display, better target separation and depth penetration.
Lower frequencies, like 77kHz, penetrate deep into the water but pick up limited details on the way.
Higher frequencies like 800 kHz get absorbed by the water so don’t go as deep but pick up a lot of detail on the way to give you better target separation and amazing definition.
CHIRP sends out a range of frequencies including 77 kHz, 260 kHz, 455 kHz, and 800 kHz simultaneously picking up everything that is between the bottom of the water and the bottom of your vessel and displays it in a 2d sonar image for you to read.
ClearVü is similar to a traditional CHIRP sonar but only uses higher frequency waves between 260 kHz, 455 kHz, and 800 kHz to give you exceptional detail on your 2D sonar images. ClearVü images are almost photographic and are ideal for use when fishing in shallow waters as it has a depth range of up to 200ft or when you want to check out a spot you’ve found with CHIRP but in greater detail.
With ClearVü you’ll be able to see what fishes are beneath you, what the bottom looks like, and even outlines of things like sunken trees or large boulders or coral ledges.
SideVu sonar is exactly the same as ClearVü using 455 kHz, and 800 kHz frequencies to give you photographic-like 2D sonar images, but instead of scanning beneath your vessel, it scans to the side.
SideVu like ClearVü is great for seeing more detail than CHIRP can provide but the depth range is limited with a maximum depth of 200 ft on either side of your vessel. It’s super useful for finding shoals of baitfish and large predators that you’re going past like bass or marlin, that aren’t quite in range of your baits.
Sonar Recording & History Rewind
All of the fishfinders in the Echomap Plus series comes with sonar recording and sonar history rewind. This allows the depth finder to record your sonar returns or data onto the unit’s memory or to a microSD of up to 32GB if you have put one in the microSD slot, so you can go back and review the sonar recordings later.
It’s perfect for those moments when you catch something but aren’t looking at the 2D sonar image as you can go back and see if you went over a fishy spot worth marking on the global positioning system so you can find it again another day.
Each of the Echomap Plus fishfinders in the series come with Garmin Quickdraw. Garmin Quickdraw works by taking all your 2D sonar information to create maps in HD quality out of it, giving you the most detailed maps of your fishing areas possible including depth contours and shallow water shading.
The HD maps have 1ft bottom contours so you always know the exact depth and the shallow water shading will help you avoid areas that are too shallow for your vessel.
What transducer do the units come with?
Every one of the units comes with a GT Garmin transducer that supports its sonar capabilities making it easy to ensure everything works when you install the included transducer. The transducer includes a 20 foot and a 12-pin connector. It’s designed for a transom mount, so if you need to mount in a trolling motor, you will need to buy an adapter.
TIPYou can also opt to purchase a unit without a transducer if you already have a transducer at home that is compatible with the unit and its capabilities.
The Echomap Plus 93sv, 70sv, and 70cv units are compatible with the Garmin Panoptix transducer that takes the world from 2D sonar to 3D so you can get 3D detailed images of structures and fishes around your vessel. With the Garmin Panoptix transducer, you’ll also be able to see fishes swimming, attacking your bait, your lure swimming, live and in real-time.
NOTEIt’s a super cool upgrade but the transducer is expensive and will add a few hundred dollars to the total price.
All the Echomap Plus units come with the ability to see and use maps with the positioning system. You have the option to buy an Echomap Plus unit with either LakeVü HD G3 maps or Bluechart G3 maps, but which of them is best for you and your depth finder?
LakeVü HD G3 Maps
LakeVü HD G3 maps are perfect for freshwater fishermen who love to hunt for bass, pike musky, crappies, and other species in the lakes of the USA. LakeVü HD G3 comes with maps of over 17000 US lakes with 1 ft bottom contours integrated with Navionics data. The maps are incredibly detailed and even show you hazards, day markers, buoys, boat ramps, marinas, and more.
Bluechart G3 Maps
Bluechart G3 maps come with 1ft contours, integrated with Navionics data, of the entire US coastline. They are the perfect maps for every sea fisherman showing you accurate information about depth, ledges, canyons, reefs, drop-offs, and anywhere else fishes might be lurking.
Auto Guidance is also available with Bluechart G3 maps, but unfortunately not with the preloaded version that comes with the Echomap Plus units, and you’ll have to buy it separately. Auto Guidance is useful as it will calculate a route using your desired depth and clearance to follow, helping you navigate through hazardous waters with confidence.
How easy is it to add maps or update the software?
All of the units come with a microSD card slot where you can add a microSD in order to update either the software or add new maps. All you have to do is go to the Garmin website, down the maps or software to a clean microSD, put it in the card slot, and wait for the unit to update with the new maps or software.
The inclusion of a microSD card slot also makes it easy to move maps and data from one unit to another without the need for a data cable, just swap out the SD’s. You can also have multiple SD’s for example one LakeVü HD G3 card and one Bluechart G3 card for fishing multiple areas in both fresh and saltwater.
To make things easier for you, watch the video below for updating and adding maps..
Each of the models bar the Echomap Plus 44cv items come with Wi-fi connectivity which makes life on the water a lot easier. Not only does Wi-fi connectivity let the units show you smart notifications on their display but it also allows you to connect the units with the Active Captain app.
The free ActiveCaptain app gives you connectivity via access to OneChart where you can purchase and download maps directly to the Echomap Plus. Using the Wi-fi connectivity you can also access the ActiveCaptain shared community to find local points of interest details, Quickdraw Community data, and more.
What do people who own an Echomap Plus really think about the units?
No Garmin Echomap Plus review would be complete without looking at what current users think of the Garmin devices. I have looked hard and wide at most of the reviews and comments out there from website to website and the good news is, everyone loves these units. Here are some of the reviews I found.
Are there better units out there for the same money than the Echomap Plus?
Similar to the Echomap in terms of price, wi-fi connectivity, and has equivalent tools and sonar technologies like ClearVü, CHIRP, and SideVu
The Helix is similar to the Echomap in terms of price, wi-fi connectivity, and has equivalent tools and sonar technologies like ClearVü, CHIRP, and SideVu but there are a few differences.
- The Helix only goes to 1500ft, whereas the Echomap can hit 2300ft.
- The Helix has a mode called SwitchFire where you can control how much detail you see on the screen.
- The Helix is compatible with more charts than just LakeVü HD or Bluechart G3
- No Helix models have a touchscreen technology
- There is no sounder recording on the Helix
Overall you’re getting a bit less for your money with the Helix as there are no touchscreen options, the depth is limited to 1500ft, and it doesn’t record sonar data from the sounder. It’s best to stick with the Echomap.
Click here if you want to read our detailed review of the Humminbird Helix 7.
The Striker units are also quite similar to the EchoMap in terms of GPS, ClearVü, CHIRP, and SideVu sonar. But there are some major differences in the price and map options.
- The Striker is more affordable
- The Striker has a built-in flasher for vertical fishing
- You can not add charts to Striker units like LakeVü HD and there is no basemap
- Striker units are portable and can be used for ice fishing
- There are no Striker models with a touchscreen technology
If you’re looking to spend a little less or want something more portable you can use for ice fishing too, then the Striker is a good option but you’ll have to live without any charts although you can use Quickdraw to make your own.
The pricing is similar, and it has equivalent tools to sounder history review, ClearVü, CHIRP, and SideVu, but there are some little differences.
The Lowrance Elite Ti2 is about as close to a clone of the Echomap Plus you might find. The pricing is similar, and it has equivalent tools to sounder history review, ClearVü, CHIRP, and SideVu, but there are some little differences.
- You can view and control the Elite Ti2 from your smartphone with the Wi-fi connectivity
- The Elite Ti2 merges its equivalent ClearVü and SideVu images into a single image using Active Imaging.
- Lowrance customer service is not the best
The Lowrance Elite Ti2 is a better choice in my eyes. For the same money, you can view and control the sounder from your phone and you get a full 3D image with active imaging. But you’ll have to deal with Lowrance customer service if anything goes wrong, which can take weeks.
Is the Echomap Plus worth it?
Overall, the Echomap Plus is a great option for anyone that wants a sounder and chartplotter combo. You can navigate from California to Hawaii with an Echomap Plus and see the fishes under your vessel on your way. You can’t ask for more than that.
Thanks for reading my Garmin EchoMap Plus Review, I hope you found it useful and have made a decision about whether the Echomap Plus series is for you.
For some additional reading up on how a fish finder works, I got you covered right here.
Please feel free to share the article with your friends and family, and check out some of our others, such as this review of the Raymarine Dragonfly Pro.
We cover everything you might need for fishing from seafood cookbooks to 12-volt batteries to power your sounders with, so if you’re ever in need of something new, look here first. Happy fishing and tight lines.