Traditionally, you would tell where fish were by slowly trolling around the lake. You’d stare at the water like a madman, and you’d look for insect activity or fish shadows. When that didn’t work, you’d start casting lures and baits into sunken trees or other forms of cover.
There isn’t anything wrong with that technique if you want to try it today. It’s a good way to test yourself. However, it’s boring, difficult to do properly, and inefficient.
If you want to get an advantage of other fishermen, you’ll want to increase the speed at which you find and catch fish, and you’ll want to make sure you have the equipment necessary to do that. In this case, I’m talking about a fish finder. A fish finder will allow you to pinpoint the position of fish using high-tech sonar, and it’ll take care of several other tasks that every fisherman has to worry about.
Things To Consider
Before you run out to buy a fish finder, you need to consider a few different factors that will affect your purchasing decisions. I’ll go over those factors now.
Consider What You Need
As I said earlier, a fish finder can take care of quite a few tasks. However, you’ll pay more for something that can handle every fishing task imaginable. So, keep that in mind when you start looking at the most advanced fish finders possible.
You can find fish finders that have photo-realistic sonar returns, high-definition screens, temperature readers, barometric pressure readers, GPS systems, auto-generated maps, and many other features that make it easier for you to land massive fish.
However, you probably don’t need some of those features. They’re nice to have at your disposal, but they’re not necessary if you just like to casually fish. You can afford to get a unit that doesn’t tell you what the air pressure is, and you can usually go without complex GPS systems and high-end sonar systems.
When you start searching for a fish finder, try to think of the different features that you can afford to go without, and that’ll help you find something that is affordable and functional enough for your own use.
Get The Necessities
I know that I just said to look for features that you don’t need, but there are a couple of features that you cannot go without.
You need a basic map system. You might not need the fanciest GPS system, and you might not need thousands of pre-loaded maps, but you do need something that allows you to keep track of prime fishing spots and water hazards.
You also need to know how warm or cold the water is. That will greatly affect how often the fish are willing to bite. If the water is too cold, you might not want to target fish that appear to be very lazy. You might be better off moving to a spot that is a little warmer. Without an on-board thermometer, you won’t be able to get accurate readings of the water’s temperature. You can use your phone to search the internet for average temperatures, but nothing beats having real-time readings of the water’s temperature.
Finally, you need to have reliable and accurate sonar returns. A lot of budget models and older fish finders have really blurry sonar returns, and they often get worse as you scan deeper waters. You want something that can reliably scan the entire water column without producing low-quality returns. That’ll make it easier for you to identify your targets, and it’ll make it easier to actually read the information that your sonar system gathers.
Different Fishing Styles Need Different Units
You don’t just have to consider what you need. You also have to consider the type of fishing that you do. Fish finders that are made for ice fishing are very different from fish finders that are made for targeting big bass in the summer.
The type of water that you fish in also makes a huge difference. Sonar waves have trouble cutting through saltwater, and unless you buy a unit that is specifically made for saltwater, your estimated range will be a lot lower when you’re fishing in the ocean. That may or may not affect you. It all depends on the type of fish that you’re targeting.
It should be noted that some of the more expensive units can handle just about any style of fishing. However, you should expect to pay quite a bit of money if you want a good all-around fish finder.
Start With A Good Unit
Unless you’re only going to fish once or twice per summer, you need to invest in a good fish finder. You’ll get more out of a decent unit than you will something that you find for $30 on sale.
If you want to know what the perfect unit to start with is, check out my Garmin EchoMap 73SV review in the next section.
EchoMap 73SV: Presentation
The EchoMap 73SV is an advanced fish finder that can work well in most situations. It’s not a great choice for beginners, but if you’re willing to spend some time learning how to use it properly, it’s a priceless piece of equipment that can serve you well for years.
Its sonar system produces some of the highest-quality returns possible, and it’s outfitted with a highly-advanced GPS map system. It also has the ability to connect to Garmin’s smartphone app to allow you to access information when you’re away from your boat. Overall, it’s designed to handle everything that is thrown your way when you’re out on the lake. The information that it provides is priceless, and it’s worth every penny that you’ll have to spend to call it your own.
Features of the Garmin EchoMap 73SV
You probably want to read more than just a bunch of praise for the EchoMap 73SV. In that case, I’ll break all of its advanced features down in this section, and you can see exactly what makes it better than other fish finders.
One of the most important features that the 73SV has is its high level of compatibility. Obviously, it’s compatible with the standard Garmin CHIRP system, but it’s also compatible with the CHIRP ClearVu and CHIRP SideVu systems. On top of that, it can use Panoptix sonar.
However, it doesn’t come with any transducers, and that might be a deal breaker for a lot of people. You have to buy the transducer that has the sonar system you want to use. That’s not entirely a bad thing, though. It allows you to customize the 73SV to your liking, and if you purchase multiple transducers, it allows you to switch the functionality of your 73SV on the fly. While that raises its price considerably, it gives advanced fishermen a lot more options than what a standard fish finder does.
I recommend buying The CHIRP ClearVu and CHIRP SideVu transducers. The ClearVu system will allow you to fish effectively in most situations, but you can switch to the SideVu transducer when you decide to fish the shallows for spawning bass and crappie. The other sonar transducers are options that will allow you to expand your repertoire a bit.
LakeVu Pre-Loaded Maps
Pre-loaded maps give you an edge over fishermen that have to drive around a lake to create their own maps, and the 73SV comes with more than 17000 high-quality maps of United States waterways. Over 13000 of the LakeVu maps have one-foot contours that give you more realistic interpretations of the water’s bottom.
The 73SV isn’t just pre-loaded with a bunch of maps. It also creates maps as you travel, and it updates the LakeVu maps to include structures that might not have been around when the maps were originally made.
All of the maps that you create with the Quickdraw system have one-foot contours to ensure that your maps are as useful as possible.
I cannot begin to count the number of times that I’ve wanted to access my fish finder’s maps and records when I was just messing with my tackle box in the house.
Preparation is a key part of fishing, and not having access to maps and records unless you’re on the water is a pain.
Luckily, the 73SV is compatible with Garmin’s ActiveCaptain app. The app allows you to access your maps, your fishing records, and notifications that your 73SV has sent to you. However, it also allows you to access the Quickdraw Community system. Quickdraw Community let’s you access the maps that other fishermen have created with their Quickdraw systems, and it’s a great way to get updated information about a fishing spot before you ever go to it. Instead of seeing pre-rendered maps, you get to see exactly what other fishermen have seen at a particular lake.
The screen on the 73SV is seven-inches across when you measure it diagonally, and it’s lit by a powerful light behind the screen. It’s easy to read it in harsh sunlight, and it’s easy to read when you’re fishing for catfish in the middle of the night.
The screen truly shines when it comes to displaying the crystal-clear sonar returns that the 73SV provides. Since the screen is hi-def, and the sonar returns are photo-realistic, you can see just about every detail in the underwater environment.
The EchoMap 73SV has impressed even the most elite fishermen with its crystal-clear sonar and wide variety of enhanced features. It’s mostly praised for the stunning amount of detail that its CHIRP system produces. It’s almost as if you’re looking under the water with goggles on.
Most fishermen also like that they can change which transducer they use on the fly. That’s also a small drawback since you have to buy transducers separately, but it ultimately makes it a more flexible machine, and the majority of people appreciate that.
Finally, its map system has been praised for its robust list of pre-loaded maps, and the Quickdraw feature makes each of those maps even more useful since it updates them on the fly. Other fishermen have really enjoyed combining the Quickdraw mapping system with the Quickdraw Community feature to compare their maps to the maps of other fishermen.
Alternatives to the Garmin EchoMap 73SV
The EchoMap is one of my favorite fish finders, but it definitely won’t appeal to all fishermen. I have a hard time believing that there are fishermen that won’t appreciate its advanced nature, but beginners will need a simpler unit, and budget-friendly alternatives will be necessary for fishermen who don’t have the money to pay for an EchoMap. In the following sections, I’ll offer a few alternatives that will work for fishermen that can’t get the EchoMap.
#1 Hook2 5X
The Hook2 5X has most of the functionality of the EchoMap 73SV, but it doesn’t have crystal-clear sonar returns, its map system is a little less advanced, and it only has a five-inch screen.
However, it’s less than half as expensive as the EchoMap, and it still has the same features. The features just aren’t as advanced. If you’re a beginner, or if you’re looking for a budget-friendly option, the Hook2 5X might be the perfect alternative for you.
#2 Garmin EchoMap Plus
The EchoMap Plus is almost exactly like the 73SV, but it comes with a transducer, and its secondary systems are all fleshed out a bit more than the other EchoMap’s secondary systems. The Plus is essentially a high-end version of the 73SV.
However, all of those upgrades increase its price quite a bit. This is a great alternative for elite fishermen, but beginners will want to look at something else.
You can find the Plus at this link.
#3 Deeper CHIRP
The Deeper CHIRP isn’t like the other alternatives I’ve listed. It’s a sonar ball that you clip onto your line. You cast it like you would a lure, and it sends sonar returns back to your smartphone. You don’t even need WiFi to use it. It creates its own WiFi signal.
This is an alternative that is useful if you don’t have a boat. It allows you to enjoy the same benefits that you get with the EchoMap, but you don’t have to worry about buying an expensive fishing boat just to use it. However, it’s also fairly easy to lose if you have a habit of getting your line caught in trees and underwater structures.
You can find the Deeper CHIRP sonar ball at this link.
The EchoMap 73SV is nearly perfect in my opinion. It has upgraded versions of all of the features you need, and it has several advanced systems that will help you be a better fisherman. You shouldn’t have any problems finding your next record-breaking fish with the EchoMap 73SV. However, there are some alternatives that I suggest checking out.
I hope you enjoyed this Garmin EchoMap 73SV review, and if you want to pick it up, you can click this link.