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Ferreting Out the Fish

by Norris Comer

Garmin ECHOMAP™ Plus

Garmin Fishfinders In ActionEchomap Plus models debuted at the last Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show as the next step in Garmin’s Echomap chart plotter/sonar model lineup. Less of a complete overhaul and more of a slight tweak to the popular Echomap family, the Plus models have a lot to offer boaters of all sizes and budgets.

When talking about Garmin’s Echomap Plus, the display sizes are a natural topic to open with. The Pluses come in 4”, 6”, 7”, and 9” displays, which contrasts a bit from the original Echomap lineup (the Plus 6” replaces the original 5” model, for example). What’s cool about these units is that the capabilities don’t vary dramatically depending on size, so the 4” unit that resembles a handheld device has the same software, buttons, and general utility of the largest device.

The different sizes do pair with different transducers (the 4” with the CV20-TM Transducer as standard, the 9” with the CV52HW-TM Transducer), so perhaps there is a slight difference in overall data gathering firepower. Nevertheless, regardless of size, you’ve got the Echomap experience at your disposal, and the size is mostly a personal preference.

But size isn’t all that matters. What can the Echomap Plus family do? Short answer: a lot. All units come with Garmin’s suite of pre-loaded basemaps, like BlueChart G2 (US Coastal waters), Worldwide Marine Basemap, LakeVü HD, and more. The paired transducers themselves are part of the appeal as well, for you can go with traditional CHIRP sonar or up the ante with side view (Garmin’s patented Side Vu) scanning sonar. The units are also compatible with the bleeding edge Garmin Panoptix “all-seeing” sonar that can even look forward (pretty cool stuff).

Garmin Echopmaps Plus

Here we see the Echomap Plus lineup with screen sizes ranging from the smallest (4”) to largest (9”) with prices ranging from $349.99 to $1,099.99.

The Echomap Plus line features built-in WiFi that allows the units to communicate with other systems aboard (examples include NMEA 2000, a Fusion-Link audio system, and/or a tablet) and pairs with apps like ActiveCaptain (and through it OneChart, a digital chart store), Garmin Quickdraw, and more. Quickdraw allows the user to create his or her own custom maps, for example, by overlaying fish signals onto a contoured chart. There’s a lot of tech in these compact devices, and the emphasis on connecting the user to a greater online community is a trend towards tapping into crowd-sourced knowledge.

The actual design of the Echomap Plus lineup is also a win: rugged with a simple button-assist array and sunlight-readable touchscreen. Garmin, unlike many smartphone companies with their increasingly lighter and fragile devices, is about utility on the water, and that’s a good thing. All the models are built to be easily unplugged from a single cable connection in the mount and transported at a whim, making them ideal not only for larger yachts, but also mobile fishing machines or even kayaks.

The best part may just be the price. If you’re just looking to get in the game, the 4” Echomap Plus 44cv with standard transducer is $349.99. The price point increases with size, the largest 9” model with standard transducer is $1,099.99. Sonar for the people! If curious, you can check out Garmin’s new Echomap Plus lineup at garmin.com.

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