Garmin Echomap Ultra 126SV Chartplotter Review

The Garmin ECHOMAP Ultra 126SV is a fish finder chartplotter combo designed for enhanced fish finding and navigation. Here’s a brief overview of its features:

  • Large Touchscreen Display: The device is equipped with a large, sunlight-readable touchscreen display. This makes it easy to read and interact with in various lighting conditions, especially in bright outdoor environments.
  • High-Definition Sonar Capabilities (with GT56UHD Transducer Bundle): When purchased as part of a transducer bundle, it includes Ultra High-Definition scanning sonars. These sonars provide exceptionally clear and detailed images of fish and underwater structures.
  • CHIRP Traditional Sonar: In addition to the high-definition scanning sonars, it also offers CHIRP traditional sonar. This technology sends a continuous sweep of frequencies for more detailed and accurate fish arches and structure representations.
  • Versatile Chartplotting Capabilities: It serves as a versatile chartplotter, providing detailed mapping and navigation functionalities. This makes it useful for planning routes, marking waypoints, and navigating on water.
  • Built-in Garmin Navionics+ Mapping: The device comes with preloaded Garmin Navionics+ maps. These maps offer comprehensive coverage with detailed and updated information, aiding in navigation and fish finding.

Overall, the Garmin ECHOMAP Ultra 126SV is designed for anglers and boaters who need advanced fish finding capabilities and detailed chartplotting functionalities, packaged in a large, easy-to-use touchscreen interface.

Key Specifications:

Display Size12 inches
Resolution1280 x 800
Sonar TechnologyCHIRP Sonar, ClearVu, SideVu
Frequencies50/77/83/200/455/800/1000/1200 kHz
Waterproof RatingIPX7
Price (MSRP)$3,099.99 USD

Display Quality

The Garmin ECHOMAP Ultra 126SV has excellent display quality. A glimpse of its capabilities is below: 

  • Large Size: The device features a 12-inch screen, providing a large display area for easy viewing of maps and sonar data.
  • Intuitive Touchscreen with Keyed-Assist Interface: This hybrid approach offers the convenience of a touchscreen while allowing for easier control in situations where using a touchscreen might be challenging, such as in rough waters or with wet hands.
  • IPS Technology: IPS (In-Plane Switching) is a screen technology known for its wide viewing angles and excellent color reproduction. This ensures that the display is clear and visible from different angles, even in bright sunlight.
  • High-Contrast Vivid Scanning Sonar: The ECHOMAP Ultra 126SV employs advanced sonar technology that is enhanced with vivid color palettes. These palettes are designed to provide high contrast in the sonar images.
  • High-Resolution Screen: The high-resolution screen makes it easier for users to differentiate between various underwater elements. For instance, fish targets, bottom structure, and underwater vegetation can be more easily distinguished. This feature is particularly useful for anglers looking to identify fish and understand the underwater environment more effectively.
Garmin ECHOMAP Ultra 126SV fish finder

Sonar Performance

The Built-In UHD Sonar feature of the ECHOMAP Ultra 126SV when bundled with the GT56UHD transducer, offers advanced sonar capabilities. The sonar types include CHIRP, ClearVu, and SideVu scanning.

garmin echomap ultra 126sv sonar
High-Definition SideVu, ClearVu, and CHIRP Sonar of Ultra 126sv

Ultra High-Definition SideVü

The Ultra High-Definition SideVü Scanning Sonar is a key feature of the Garmin ECHOMAP Ultra 126SV, designed to enhance the fish-finding and navigation experience:

  • Clarity and Detail: This feature provides exceptionally clear and detailed images, offering a near-photographic view of what lies off to the sides of the boat. It is particularly effective for viewing structure and fish, allowing anglers to see and analyze the underwater environment with greater precision.
  • 20% Greater Range at 1,000 kHz: The Ultra High-Definition SideVü sonar in the 126SV model has been enhanced to have a 20% greater range at a frequency of 1,000 kHz. This means the sonar can detect and display objects, structures, and fish at greater distances from the boat than previous models. The increased range allows for more efficient scanning of wider areas, making it easier to locate fish and underwater features.
  • Enhanced Fish Finding: Anglers can use this technology to identify prime fishing spots by locating fish congregations and underwater structures where fish might be hiding.
  • Navigational Aid: Boaters can utilize the detailed images to navigate more safely around submerged obstacles and understand the underwater topography.

In summary, the Garmin SideVü scanning sonar in the ECHOMAP Ultra 126SV enhances the ability to visualize and understand the aquatic environment. Its increased range and clarity are particularly beneficial for serious anglers and boaters interested in side-scanning fish finders for detailed underwater imagery, fishing success, and safe navigation.

Ultra High-Definition ClearVü

The Ultra High-Definition ClearVü Scanning Sonar of the Garmin ECHOMAP Ultra 126SV provides exceptionally clear images of underwater structures and fish. Here’s a breakdown of its performance:

  • Brilliant Image Clarity: This sonar technology is specifically engineered to deliver high-quality, detailed images of what lies beneath the boat. The enhanced clarity is especially useful for identifying fish and understanding the nature of the bottom structure, which is crucial for both fishing and navigation.
  • Greater Depth Performance: Unlike other high-frequency scanning sonars, the Ultra High-Definition ClearVü sonar in the 126SV is designed to maintain image clarity at greater depths. This allows anglers to explore and understand deeper water environments with the same level of detail usually reserved for shallower waters.
  • Focused Power on Targets: The ClearVü sonar includes a downward-facing element that focuses more power directly below the boat. This focused approach enhances the sonar’s ability to provide clearer images by concentrating its scanning power on the area directly beneath the boat.
  • Easy to Find Fish: Anglers benefit from being able to see detailed representations of fish and underwater structures, aiding in locating prime fishing spots and understanding fish behaviors.
  • Safe Navigation: For boaters, this technology assists in safely navigating by providing clear views of the underwater terrain and potential hazards.

In summary, the Ultra High-Definition ClearVü Scanning Sonar on the Garmin ECHOMAP Ultra 126SV represents a significant advancement in sonar technology, offering superior image clarity at greater depths and focusing power on targets beneath the boat. This down-scanning fish finder is particularly valuable for anglers and boaters who rely on precise and detailed underwater imagery.

High Wide CHIRP Traditional Sonar

The High Wide CHIRP Traditional Sonar in the Garmin ECHOMAP Ultra 126SV offers enhanced fish-finding and underwater exploration capabilities. Here’s a detailed explanation:

  • CHIRP (Compressed High-Intensity Radiated Pulse) Sonar: Unlike traditional sonar that emits a single frequency, CHIRP sonar sends a continuous sweep of frequencies, ranging from low to high. This results in more accurate and detailed sonar returns.
  • High Wide Aspect: In the “High Wide” aspect of CHIRP sonar technology, the frequency range typically covers a higher spectrum with a wide beam angle. This range includes higher frequencies (150-240 kHz) that provide detailed and clear images of underwater structures and fish. The “wide” aspect refers to a broader sonar beam width, which covers a larger area under the boat, offering a more comprehensive view of the underwater environment. This combination of high frequency and wide beam is particularly effective for detailed and extensive underwater imaging, especially in shallower waters.
  • Target Separation: The system is capable of distinguishing between individual targets (like fish) with exceptional clarity. This means that fish close to each other, or near the bottom or structure, can be seen as distinct returns on the sonar display.
  • Depth Capability: This feature is effective up to depths of 800 feet, which is quite substantial for traditional sonar technology. This depth range makes it suitable for a wide variety of freshwater and saltwater environments.

In summary, the High Wide CHIRP Traditional Sonar in the Garmin ECHOMAP Ultra 126SV enhances the user’s ability to discern underwater objects and fish with high clarity and detail, effective up to significant depths. This feature is especially beneficial for avid anglers and boaters who demand precise and detailed fish sonar for their activities.

Pre-loaded Navionics+ Charts

The preloaded Navionics+ charts on the Garmin ECHOMAP Ultra 126SV provide users with detailed, up-to-date mapping, enhancing navigation, and fishing activities through advanced charting features and regular updates. Below are the details of its features:

  • Unparalleled Coverage and Detail: These preloaded charts offer extensive geographical coverage with a high level of detail. This includes information on coastlines, lakes, rivers, and other navigable waters.
  • 1-Year Subscription for Daily Updates: The device includes a one-year subscription that allows users to download daily updates. This ensures that the maps are always current with the latest changes in underwater topography, navigational aids, and points of interest.
  • Depth Range Shading: This feature allows users to assign different colors to different depth ranges. This visual representation makes it easier to identify depth contours and underwater features, which is especially useful for fishing and navigating in unfamiliar waters.
  • Additional Mapping Features: The Navionics+ integration may include other features like detailed contour lines, points of interest, and marina information, enhancing the overall boating and fishing experience.

Livescope Compatible

The ECHOMAP Ultra 126sv is designed to integrate seamlessly with the entire range of Garmin LiveScope sonar products. This means it can display the real-time sonar imagery provided by these advanced systems.

While the ECHOMAP Ultra 126sv is compatible with LiveScope products, it’s important to note that the required LiveScope transducers are not included with the unit and must be purchased separately.

LiveScope sonar systems are renowned for their ability to provide real-time, highly detailed images of what is happening under and around the boat. This includes the movement of fish, the reaction of fish to your lure, and detailed views of the structure beneath the water.

Anglers benefit significantly from this technology, as it provides unprecedented insights into underwater activities, greatly enhancing the fishing experience and success rates.

Beyond fishing, LiveScope sonar support is also valuable for general underwater exploration and navigation, offering a clear view of the environment beneath the boat.

Wireless Networking

The Wireless Networking feature of the Garmin ECHOMAP Ultra 126sv enables the device to share information wirelessly with other compatible chartplotters on the same boat. This feature is particularly useful for users who have multiple Garmin units installed. Here’s how it works:

  • Compatibility: The feature is designed to work with other compatible ECHOMAP Ultra 2 or ECHOMAP UHD2 chartplotters. This ensures seamless integration and communication between devices.
  • Sonar Data Sharing: You can wirelessly share sonar readings between devices. This means that if you detect fish or underwater structures with one unit, you can view this information on any other compatible device on your boat.
  • Waypoints and Routes Sharing: The ability to share waypoints and routes is particularly useful for navigation. You can plan your route on one device and access it from any other compatible chartplotter on your boat.
  • Enhanced Boat Management: This wireless connectivity allows for more efficient management of your boating and fishing activities. With shared data, you can coordinate navigation and fishing strategies more effectively across different parts of the boat.
  • Ease of Use: Wireless sharing simplifies the user experience by eliminating the need for physical cables or manual transfer of data between units.

In summary, the wireless networking capability of the Garmin ECHOMAP Ultra 126sv enhances the functionality of multiple chartplotters on a boat by enabling easy and efficient sharing of sonar data, waypoints, and routes. This feature is particularly advantageous for users with complex setups or those who require coordinated use of multiple devices.

Is Garmin Echomap Ultra 126sv the right fish finder for you?

The Garmin ECHOMAP Ultra 126sv, priced at $3,099 with the transducer, is a high-end 12-inch fish finder and chartplotter that’s particularly suitable for specific types of users due to its advanced features and capabilities. It’s an ideal fish finder for:

  • Professional Fishermen: With its advanced sonar capabilities, including Ultra High-Definition scanning, this unit is perfect for serious anglers who need precise, detailed underwater imaging for locating fish and understanding bottom structure.
  • Charter Captains and Fishing Guides: Professionals who rely on accurate, detailed sonar and navigational information to provide the best experience for their clients will find the 126sv invaluable.
  • Tournament Anglers: Competitive anglers who participate in fishing tournaments will benefit from the real-time, detailed sonar imagery and advanced navigation features, giving them an edge in competitions.
  • Boating Enthusiasts and Mariners: The detailed mapping, chartplotting capabilities, and large display make it a great tool for anyone who spends a lot of time on the water and values precise navigation.
  • Technology-Savvy Boaters: The integration with ActiveCaptain for smart notifications and updates, the compatibility with LiveScope sonar, and wireless networking capabilities make it ideal for tech-savvy users.
  • Owners of Larger Boats: The ability to network and share data with other compatible devices is a significant advantage for those with larger boats or multiple vessels.

Given its price point, the Garmin ECHOMAP Ultra 126sv is a significant investment, so it’s best suited for individuals who will fully utilize its extensive range of features for professional or passionate recreational use.