When it comes to top tier fishfinders, Garmin is often the first brand that comes to mind. With a large range of high end models on the market, this is the one company that has consistently put out nothing but high quality products. They’re often the first to market with new features and technology. With the echoMAP 73sv now topping sales charts, we had to find out for ourselves what all the hype was about.
Design & Durability
The EchoMAP 73sv is a highly durable unit designed to weather the outdoor environment. It’s very well made. When holding it in your hand, you can tell that it was crafted from high quality components with the same care and attention that you’d expect from a high-end fish finder. It doesn’t creak or flex like some of the cheaper models. Despite its plastic build, it’s incredibly solid. It’s rated IPX7, meaning that it’s not going to be hurt by water. On paper, it could survive being fully submerged in the water for a short time, although we’d generally advise against it. There are many waterproof fish finders on the market, but not many that take the time to have their units independently certified and verified.
Design wise, the EchoMAP 73sv has the same landscape orientation that’s been favored by the fish finder community for the last couple years. It’s got a large, bright 7” display, housed in a reasonably compact 9.8” by 5.5” by 2” body. The mount is surprisingly compact, ensuring that this unit doesn’t take up much of the valuable space on your boat.
The controls are laid out intuitively. At the top, you’ve got the power button and the + and – buttons that are used for zooming your image. Below that is the large rubbery directional pad that performs all navigation functions. Below that, you’ve got a large select button, a back / menu button, and a home / mark button. Because all of the main buttons are sized differently, we found it easy to jump through the menus without having to look at them. We were able to familiarize ourselves with this unit within a few minutes of picking it up.
Clear Scanning Sonar
Garmins unique Clear Scanning technology is based on the down and side imaging we’re all used to, but uses advanced signal filtering to make the display much more accurate and easy to view than competing models. DownVü in particular stands out from the pack. The images it produces are near photographic representations of what’s passing below your boat. Since most fish finders are focusing on side imaging, anyone who uses down imaging regularly will appreciate the level of detail and accuracy afforded by the EchoMAP 73sv
It’s SideVü scanning uses CHIRP sonar to show you what’s going at up to 750 feet on either side of your boat. You can easily make out the structure and density of the ground, helping you to identify soft spots against hard ground. Submerged objects like trees and rocks are easy to spot and make out, and of course any fish that are hiding there.
What makes this technology impressive is Garmins HD-ID technology. What HD-ID does is take each separate signal and compare them against each other. There will be some details visible from some frequencies that you won’t see with others. This allows Garmin to cancel out errors, and improve the technologies of each into a few easy-to-use images.
This sonar system produces 500W RMS of powerful signal, with an impressive 4000W peak-to-peak rating. This means that it’s more accurate, and travels a longer distance than many comparable models.
The massive 7” display is bright, colorful, and detailed. It has a WVGA resolution, giving you an 800 x 480 pixel matrix. The Garmin EchoMAP 73SV puts every one of these pixels to good use. You can arrange all three views side by side – DownVü, SideVü, and mapping. The general layout is to have one large display on the right (we recommend the map) and then split the other half between the other modes. At any time, you can swap the display to fullscreen one of these views. This is great for when you’re just about ready to turn home, or when you hit the jackpot and want to switch to DownVü see what’s directly below you.
GPS & Mapping
The Garmin EchoMAP 73SV uses a high-accuracy GPS system that refreshes very quickly – up to 5 times per second! You’ll see your exact location in real time, even when you’re in an unmapped area. But with the included ClearVü maps, we find it highly unlikely that you’ll ever be in uncharted territory. These maps are some of the most in-depth and detailed ones available on the market. It covers both coasts, as well as 17,000 individual lakes. Almost a third of them have one foot contour lines, something that anglers will per particularly fond of. While some companies require you to go out an purchase your own sets of maps (often at hundreds of dollars) it’s nice to have an all in one unit.
For Canadians, Garmin also makes a version specifically for Canadian lakes. While it’s not quite as detailed as the American version, they’re updating it on a monthly basis. Currently, it’s the most inclusive map system available for Canada
The Garmin EchoMAP 73sv has a built-in quickdraw mapping system that allows you to create custom maps in real time as you navigate the waters. This is also handy to have in an area where the maps are not particularly detailed. For example, let’s say that you find the perfect fishing spot and want more information about it. Swap to the quickdraw mapping application and the 73sv will recreate your map in real-time with its powerful sonar system.
If you’re looking for a fish finder with a larger screen and both side and down imaging, this is one of the best choices. Whether you’re using the included maps or creating your own, the Garmin 73sv will provide you with the most accurate imaging possible. For anyone that has the space for a large fish finder, we can’t recommend the Garmin Echomap 73SV enough.