BIG SCREEN | Ultra High-Definition sonar
Should I upgrade to a – Garmin ECHOMAP Ultra 126sv?
We take a detailed look at the specifications and get a couple of thoughts from some who already have.
We also put together a side-by-side comparison with the ECHOMAP Ultra to the Plus and UHD.
The Garmin ECHOMAP Ultra 126sv – Is an easy-to-use, easy-to-setup 12″ color chartplotter/sonar key-assist touchscreen combo targeted towards the inshore and coastal fisherman.
It has CHIRP traditional sonar, CHIRP ClearVü/SideVü scanning sonar, and support for Garmin’s super-clear Ultra High-Definition scanning sonar.
The Ultra series also supports Panoptix LiveScope LVS12 sonar (no black boxes required) plus the full line of Panoptix all-seeing sonar transducers and the Panoptix LiveScope system
Creating custom fishing maps on-screen with 1’ contours is quick and easy with built-in Garmin Quickdraw™ Contours mapping.
The ECHOMAP Ultra 126sv comes already pre-loaded Garmin BlueChart g3 coastal charts and LakeVü g3 inland maps. Both are with integrated Navionics data and Auto Guidance.
Built-in Wi-Fi paired with the free ActiveCaptain app makes updates and chart upgrades pretty simple.
ECHOMAP Ultra Series – Comes in 2 screen sizes, features Ultra High-Definition scanning sonar capabilities, and supports Panoptix LiveScope. It also supports the new single-array LVS12, which delivers live scanning sonar images of structure, bait and fish swimming below and around the boat in real-time.
The Ultra 106sv & 126sv models are preloaded with both Garmin BlueChart g3 and LakeVü charts and the 102sv & 122sv models come with a worldwide basemap.
Clear Screen and Sunlight Friendly – This is one of the first things you will pick up on with the ECHOMAP Ultra 126sv. The screen is bright and has an excellent viewing angle even in direct sun.
Keyed assist touchscreen – The 12″ screen uses touchscreen navigation along with a keypad with 4 quick access shortcut keys to assign the active screen when held. The shortcut button opens the assigned screen when pressed.
Built-in GPS – The 10hz GPS receiver acquires satellites quickly on startup and shows the exact location without much delay.
Network Capabilities – Easily share sonar data, waypoints, routes, and supplemental charts with other 7″ and 9″ ECHOMAP UHD, ECHOMAP Plus, and ECHOMAP Ultra models.
NMEA 2000 | 0183 – Connect the Ultra to an autopilot, digital switching, weather, FUSION-Link audio system, media, VHF, or AIS all from one screen.
TouchScreen navigation menu – Setting up the ECHOMAP Ultra 126sv for how you fish or cruise is simple and adding custom screens and settings is pretty straightforward without having to do a deep dive into the manual.
You can add items, rearrange items on the home screen, and even change to a background image.
Custom Pages – Creating custom combinations is easy. Setup a custom screen for fishing with sonar split screen with traditional on one side and clearvu on the other.
Set one up with chart and sonar for cruising or one for finding structure using ClearVü and SideVü sonar only. Then assign up to 4 custom screens to the shortcut keys for quick access.
Creating a New Combination Pages – You have the choice between 7 different screen combinations and can customize each pane individually.
Built-in sonar capabilities – The ECHOMAP Ultra includes a 600W CHIRP traditional sonar, ClearVü/SideVü scanning sonars, Ultra High-Definition scanning sonar, and supports the full line of Panoptix all-seeing sonar transducers, including the Panoptix LiveScope system.
Additional info on the Panoptix™ all-seeing sonar line.
TRADITIONAL CHIRP SONAR – CHIRP sonar sends a continuous sweep of frequencies ranging from low to high, instead of sending just 1 single frequency at a time.
The 600W CHIRP sonar sweeps a continuous range of frequencies, from low to high, in a single transmission. The information returned from each frequency in that transmission is then shown on the screen.
Since this continuous sweep of frequencies provides a much wider range of information, CHIRP sonar is able to create a very clear, high-resolution image.
As you can see above, you get far greater target separation and more defined arches than you would with standard 50/200 kHz sonar. The maximum working depth is about 2,300 ft @ 77kHz, freshwater, and 1,100 ft @ 77kHz, saltwater depending on the bottom type and water conditions.
Recording the Sonar Display – Very cool feature that allows you to record the sonar screen for playback on Garmin HomePort™ and review it later. I find it pretty valuable to be able to look over the recording from the day and mark any spots that I what to check out in more detail.
As I play it back, I can stop and drop a GPS mark on something interesting and upload it to the GPS to take a look at the next time I’m on the water. See the image above.
To Start Recording – Insert a memory card into the card slot. From a sonar view, select MENU > Record Sonar. Garmin says 15 minutes of sonar recording uses approximately 200 MB of space of the inserted memory card but I recorded several hours and only had a 980Mb file.
An individual recording automatically ends after it reaches 4 GB in size. You can record sonar data until the card reaches capacity.
Note: Before you can playback the sonar recordings, you must download and install the Garmin HomePort™ application and record sonar data onto a memory card.
Sonar History Rewind – As the ECHOMAP Ultra 126sv gets sonar data, while you’re tracking bottom or fish, you can go back and see what you previously went over by just tapping the screen and scrolling back. The amount of sonar history available to scroll back and the view is about from 2-3 screens wide.
The scroll speed will affect how you will have recorded. For example, if the GPS is set to a slower scroll speed in the sonar menu, the window of time the unit can rewind will be greater. If the device is set to its fastest scroll speed, you will see a smaller window of time within the sonar rewind.
If you see something good that you just marked, rewind the history, tap the screen and drop a waypoint on it to save it. The best honey holes are often found when moving from one location to another.
ClearVü SONAR – ClearVü sonar is mainly used to identify the structure and gives you a nearly photographic image structure below the boat.
With ClearVü, you see structure, submerged objects, and fish separation more clearly.
Instead of a cone-shaped beam like the traditional CHIRP sonar, ClearVü scanning sonar sweeps a narrow beam of very high-frequency (455 or 800kHz) from side to side, producing “slices” that are combined to create very detailed images.
Fish are easily identifiable on Traditional View with CHIRP whereas Structures are well defined using ClearVü.
For fishermen and divers looking for structures like wrecks, reefs, log piles and other underwater natural and man-made features, ClearVü is a great tool.
SideVü SONAR – SideVü is a high-frequency sonar that gives a true-to-life view of structures and targets on either side of the boat. Like ClearVü, SideVü scanning sonar sweeps a narrow beam of very high-frequency (455 or 800kHz) out to the side, producing “slices” that create very detailed images.
You see a crystal clear image that makes it easy to identify wrecks, structures, rocks, and even fish that are stacked up next to or above them.
The distance you can scan out to the side depends on the depth but can be usable out several hundred feet, which is excellent for quickly covering and searching lots of areas.
Ultra High-Definition ClearVü – Transmits higher image clarity of structure and fish below the boat at greater depths than other high-frequency scanning sonars by utilizing a downward-facing element to put more power on targets.
Note: A UHD Transducer is required for Ultra High-Definition Sonar. Some bundles include the GT54UHD-TM transducer.
Ultra High-Definition SideVü – Stunningly clear images of structure and fish out to the sides of the boat. This makes searching new areas easier and faster because you can see everything the first time with excellent detail.
Ultra High-Definition scanning sonar gives you some additional depth performance. It shows very detailed images of fish and structures up to 200’ below the boat with 800 kHz ClearVü, while two SideVü sonar frequency settings (455/1200 kHz) provide a depth range of up to 125’.
Panoptix Sonar – is pretty amazing sonar technology. It gives us the ability to see all around the boat in real-time and in 3 dimensions.
Panoptix shows highly detailed, easy-to-interpret live scanning sonar images of structure, bait, and fish swimming below and around your boat in real-time, even when the boat is stationary.
Images are so clear, that Garmin says with a little practice, we might be able to identify species!
Both LiveScope Forward and LiveScope Down modes are included in one transducer and are available with either transom or trolling motor mounts. To use Panoptix sonar, you need a compatible chartplotter which the ECHOMAP Ultra 126sv is and a compatible transducer. The transducer plugs right into the Panoptix network port.
Panoptix Livescope Forward is a cool tool for scouting and fishing out ahead of the boat. You get live, detailed images of structure and fish out to about 200′ – even while the boat is sitting in one spot. A live sonar looks at fish moving toward or away from the boat.
Panoptix LiveScope Down gives us live scanning sonar images of structure and swimming fish in awesome detail below the boat up to 200′ out from the transducer. Shows real-time moving sonar images of baitfish and large fish swimming below the boat and pinpoints distance left or right and their depths
Preloaded Charts & Maps – The Ultra 126sv comes with the latest BlueChart® g3 coastal charts and LakeVü g3 inland maps, both with integrated Navionics data and Auto Guidance technology data for very detailed charts and mapping.
BlueChart g3 Charts cover the coastal U.S., including the East and West coasts, Gulf of Mexico, and the U.S. and Canadian sides of the Great Lakes. LakeVü g3 inland maps cover more than 17,000 lakes with up to 1’ contours.
Upgrading charts to BlueChart® g3 Vision or LakeVü g3 Ultra is easy with the microSD card slot located on the front of the device and the Active Captain App.
Garmin Auto Guidance technology – shows a suggested route to a destination, based on specs that you enter in the device like draft, and vertical height restrictions.
Depth Range Shading – is shown in high-resolution for up to 10 depth ranges, so you can see your needed depth at a glance by color.
Shallow water shading – allows for shading at a user-defined depth to give a clear picture of shallow waters to avoid based on your own draft.
Detailed Contours – 1′ contours that provide a more accurate look of bottom structure for improved fishing charts and enhanced detail in swamps, canals, and port layouts.
Quickdraw Contours instantly creates personalized HD maps with 1’ contours and depth labels for any body of water as you fish.
When Quickdraw Contours records data, a colored circle surrounds the vessel icon. This circle represents the approximate area of the map that is scanned by each pass. Quickly see where you have been.
The screen shows maps being created instantly in real-time. Easily add labels, mark timber, brush piles, favorite fishing spots, and anything you want to remember on your map for the next trip.
Improve Your Saltwater Maps & Uncover unknown areas – Many areas have no map detail. With Quickdraw, you can create maps that show you depth contours clearly labeled on the screen. You also can improve your existing maps that show locations of underwater mountains, drop-offs, crevices, or wrecks.
The maps are all yours – tailor them to fit your needs. Keep the data for yourself, or share maps with others in the QuickDraw Community on Garmin Connect.
You can view Garmin Quickdraw Contours on a combination screen or as a single view on the map. The amount of saved data depends on the size of your memory card, your sonar source, and the speed of your boat as you record data.
You can record longer when you use a single-beam sonar. It is estimated that you might be able to record about 1,500 hours of data onto a 2 GB memory card.
When you record data on a memory card in your chartplotter, the new data is added to your existing Garmin Quickdraw Contours map and is saved on the memory card. When you insert a new memory card, the existing data does not transfer onto the new card.
Connected Boating App – The free Active Captain app from Garmin gives the ECHOMAP Ultra a connection for upgrading charts, maps and access the Garmin community.
Wherever you are, you can have unlimited access to your cartography, purchase new maps and charts, and access the Garmin Quickdraw™ Contours Community. Active Captain is available for both iPhone and Android.
Active Captain Features
Garmin launched a new trolling motor called FORCE that they developed for the freshwater market. It has a brushless motor and is said to be very quiet above and below the water. It can connect to the ECHOMAP Ultra wirelessly and be controlled by the chartplotter.
The first trolling motor includes built-in Garmin CHIRP traditional and Ultra High-Definition ClearVü and SideVü scanning sonars.
FORCE Trolling Motor Features
Rear Connections Include –
Quick-Release Mount – The mount features both tilt and swivel capabilities to provide a great viewing angle. Cables plug directly into the mount, for quick installation and removal at the end of the day.
Charting | Mapping
Fishfinder | Sounder
|ECHOMAP Ultra 126sv
13.4" x 9.0" x 3.9"
341 x 229 x 98 mm
|WXGA | Key-Assist Touchsreen
10.3”x 6.4” | 12.1" diagonal
|1280 x 800 pixels
|Display - Brightness
|2.16A | 12V
|Internal or external NMEA 2000
|10 Hz GPS
|Bail or flush
|ECHOMAP Ultra 126sv
|Accepts data cards
|2 microSD card | 32GB Max
|50,000 points; 50 saved tracks
BlueChart® g3 U.S. coastal
LakeVü g3 inland
|ECHOMAP Ultra 126sv
|Supports DSC - GPS Data / VHF
|Black Box sonar support
|Planning Software Compatible
|Remote Input Device - compatible
|ECHOMAP Ultra 126sv
|600W Traditional | 600W SideVü/ClearVü
|Dual-frequency (50/200 kHz) sonar capable
|Dual-Beam Sonar (77/200 kHz) capable
|Yes - 50/200 | 77/200 | 83/200
|CHIRP sonar technology
|ClearVü | Down
|UHD CHIRP ClearVü | 260, 455, 800kHz
|SideVü | Side
|UHD CHIRP SideVü | 260, 455, 800, 1,100kHz
|Panoptix | LVS
|ECHOMAP Ultra 126sv
|NMEA 2000 compatible
|NMEA 0183 input ports
|NMEA 0183 output ports
|Marine Network Ports
|Video input ports
|Video output ports
|In The Box
ECHOMAP Ultra 126sv
BlueChart g3 and LakeVü g3 for U.S.
Tilt mount with quick release cradle
Some Bundles include