Garmin ECHOMAP UHD 63cv
While not quite as impressive as its big brothers in the Echomap UHD series, the Echomap UHD 63cv still finds itself in the higher echelon of our reviews.
Why? Because it’s so inexpensive.
There’s no touchscreen, and the transducer that comes with the unit isn’t as impressive as the one that comes with larger Echomap UHD units. Aside from that, the Echomap UHD 63cv has everything you’ll see in other units from the lineup.
You get UHD ClearVü. You get great networking. You get excellent map compatibility. You get ActiveCaptain. You get it all – in a unit that costs way under $1000, including the transducer.
- CHIRP Sonar
- Ultra HD Imaging
- Excellent mapping (and a wide variety of maps available at purchase)
- Great networking and device compatibility
- Loaded with features
- Incredible value for the cost
- No touchscreen
- Limited imaging range
- No SideVü
|Max Depth||800 ft.|
|Frequency||CHIRP: 150-240 kHz
ClearVü: 800 kHz (790-850 kHz)
|Resolution||480 x 800 pixels|
|Imaging||UHD ClearVü 200 ft.|
|Max Waypoints||5,000 (100 routes/50 tracks)|
|Memory Card Slots||1 Micro SD|
Display & Interface
Let’s start with the screen. You’re getting an HD, 6” backlit display. That’s a bit on the smaller side, but it’s still going to help more than one angler in any vessel. The backlit display means you can use it in pretty much all weather conditions – rain or shine, in fog, and even if you’re fishing at night. All standard, but when “standard” comes in a package this inexpensive, we take note.
You also get to create custom views on this unit – that means you can view charts, ClearVü, and sonar simultaneously. There are also handy data overlays to tell you the depth of the column you’re fishing, as well as the water’s temperature. Despite the unit’s relatively small size, it’s easy to get information at a glance. You’re limited to only 3 panels on any given screen, but that’s to be expected size-wise.
Many of the display features you’d expect on a high-end fish finder are here. You can switch the chart view of your sonar to a flasher mode. You can zoom in and out of a section of your view with the push of a button. You can adjust the color palette of the device. There are a variety of different kinds of split screen, so you can make some views bigger than others. This degree of display customization is really impressive considering the size of the unit – we continue to be impressed by how well this thing punches above its weight.
The menus on the Echomap UHD 63cv are well laid out, but they can be a bit of a pain to navigate through. The reason for this is the lack of a touchscreen – you need to use arrow keys to navigate. It’s not the end of the world – we’re sure most of you have navigated fish finder/chartplotters with arrow keys before – and we understand why they made the choice considering the price of the UHD 63cv.
Still, we’d like to see some innovation in this department. Garmin’s rivals over at Humminbird have innovated with the SOLIX series by including a small joystick. We find joystick controls a lot easier to use than keypads, and they’re small enough to integrate into a package this size. We won’t hold their feet to the fire on this point for any longer, though.
The buttons are quite simple – move around with arrow keys, hit Select to choose something, hit Back to go to the previous menu. You can also press the Home and Menu buttons to navigate to those pages. As well, you can mark your location as a waypoint by simply pressing Mark.
There is an advantage to having touch controls – you can always control your device. That’s actually a slight advantage to the Echomap UHD 63cv over its bigger brothers – they’re touchscreen only. Touchscreen only devices can be hard to use when they get wet.
All in all, the interface on this isn’t remarkable, but it is fairly easy to use.
At this point, we know some of you are probably waiting, with bated breath, to learn about the Ultra HD on this device. It’s wonderful – but you’ll have to read the Imaging section if you want to get the full picture (pun intended).
The transducer that comes with the Echomap UHD 63cv is pretty impressive, considering its low price point. You’re getting CHIRP sonar that ranges from 150-240 kHz. That gives you great depth (up to 800 feet) and great coverage.
For those of you who don’t know, CHIRP stands for Compressed High Intensity Radiated Pulse. That’s why the sonar shoots out a range of frequencies – it’s a pulse, as opposed to traditional sonar, which simply sends out one frequency.
This pulse gives you better target separation and sharper imaging. More frequencies sent out means that the transducer gets a wider variety of signals back that it can interpret. More data means more accuracy – it’s really as simple as that.
There are a few nifty things you can do with the sonar. You can view your sonar history, share sonar data, and even record your sonar. Garmin is taking full advantage of this unit’s networking capabilities (which we’ll discuss further in the Networking section) to encourage anglers to save and share their data to improve their fishing.
You can also switch the sonar view from a traditional sonar view to a flasher view. This is particularly handy if you’re doing ice fishing or jigging.
Finally! We get to talk about UHD.
It’s really good.
What’s surprising is that Garmin have managed to create such magnificently sharp imaging using a transducer that’s only capable of 800 kHz output. You can see up to 200 feet below your boat – structure is crystal clear. And while it’s not quite as good as the UHD in its bigger brothers, the Echomap UHD 63cv still delivers. We rarely found that structure was lacking in definition – it’s easy to figure out what’s going on underwater.
Those of you who haven’t fished using imaging before should seriously give it a try. You’ll probably continue to use your traditional CHIRP sonar for the bulk of your efforts to actually catch fish, but imaging gives you a ton of information. You can literally see where fish are hiding and where they’re moving to. This makes the Echomap UHD 63cv an excellent device for tournament anglers looking to pre-fish a lake – especially when combined with its mapping features.
You only have so much space for electronics on your vessel If you’re getting a fish finder/chartplotter, it needs to add value – and, at best, it should add a lot more value than if you bought your fish finder and GPS separately.
In the case of the Echomap UHD 63cv, you’re getting that value – Garmin put the combination of fish finder/chartplotter to good use. It has the obvious advantage of saving space – the unit is quite small, and it’s performing the function of two devices at once.
What makes it even better is that you can create your own maps for it. Using Quickdraw, you can share and download maps from the Garmin community.
Quickdraw uses your transducer to draw 1-foot contour maps, giving you a much clearer idea of what’s going on underwater. You can also add points of interest to these contour maps. You can label these points of interest, which makes it easy to mark your favorite fishing spots, structure you’ve found underwater, and other objects of note.
This makes the Echomap UHD 63cv even better for tournament fishers – it’s incredibly handy for pre-fishing, since you can mark points of interest and see contour well in advance. When coupled with the features provided in ClearVü, it’s easy to add waypoints and create routes and tracks early on, as well.
Quickdraw makes the Echomap UHD 63cv a wonderful device for those with a sense of adventure. You get to share maps with your community – you might be the first to map uncharted territory! And by downloading maps others have shared, you can seriously expand the repertoire of maps that you have available.
Not that you’re going to need to. There are several different map packs you can get with this device, and it comes with a few very good ones. Whether you’re in Canada or the US, there’s going to be a map pack well-suited to your needs.
There are a number of other mapping features on this device. You can set up auto guidance with timed arrivals – this unit can automate a lot of work for you. You can even create boundaries with alarms that alert you when you’re getting close – perfect if you want to fish in one particular area without straying too far.
Built in Wi-Fi and NMEA2000 compatibility make this a great unit (if not the best unit) for networking. The only thing the device is really lacking is Bluetooth, but Wi-Fi generally makes up for that failing. An Ethernet port might be nice, too, but on a unit this small and inexpensive, we don’t want to ask for too much. It’s also compatible with ActiveCaptain, a phone app designed by Garmin. We’re going to talk more about ActiveCaptain in the next section – it’s a good app! We like it!
We’ve talked about basically every feature on this unit, but we wanted to take a brief moment to mention ActiveCaptain. ActiveCaptain is a free app that takes advantage of the UHD 63cv’s wireless capabilities. The idea is simple: you can plan your routes at home on your ActiveCaptain app, then transfer the routes onto your chartplotter.
You can also receive updates for your unit on the ActiveCaptain app, then transfer them. You can even control your chartplotter from a distance – great if you want to make adjustments without moving over to the unit, or if you want to troll your friends while they troll for fish.
ActiveCaptain can also enable you to see your phone calls and texts on your Echomap. We like to use our fishing trips to get away from it all, so we don’t typically activate this feature. Those of you who are expecting pressing calls and don’t want to pull your phones out of your pockets for no reason, however, might find it very useful.
The Bottom Line
How they managed to get so many features on a fish finder this small is still a mystery to us – and like all great mysteries, we’re happy to simply revel in it.
Is this the best fish finder for pro anglers who want SideVü, MHz transducers, and big screens? No. Is it one of the best fish finders you’ll find for the money? Absolutely! This unit is going to run you well under $1000, depending on where you live.
That means you’ll be able to buy all sorts of other fun toys with the money you save! If all you’re looking for is the ability to down image, a great CHIRP transducer, and a finder with a ton of useful charting features, the Echomap UHD 63cv is for you.
Because of its incredibly low price, and how well it punches above its weight, the Echomap UHD 63cv is ranked as one of our best fish finders of 2021. If you’re looking for other great fish finders, take a look at our best fish finder reviews – but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a unit as good as this at its price point.