Garmin echo 301dv
On the list of standalone fish finders with down view sonar technology, one of the most affordable and effective units that you can get, is the Garmin 301dv. Along with the DownVü sonar technology, this little unit also has several other aces up its sleeve. Therefore, if you don’t feel like spending on a GPS / sonar combo unit, here’s what this particular fish finder can do for you.
Technical Details and Specifications
- Screen: 3.5″ diagonal, 240H x 320V pixel resolution, QVGA color, backlit
- Sonar: Dual Frequency HD-ID, DownVü
- Frequency and Coverage:
- Standard view: 200 kHz / 15° and 77 kHz / 45°
- DownVü: 455 kHz / 2.5° (fore to aft) x 53°
- Depth Capability:
- Standard: 1750 feet (579 m)
- DownVü: 750 feet (228.6 m)
- Transducer: GT20-TM (4-pin), for HD-ID and DownVü
- Power Output: 500 Watts (RMS)
- GPS: No
- Maps: No
- Routes, Waypoints, Tracklog: No
To begin with, the unit reviewed here is the model number 010-01255-00, which does include the required transducer supporting both types of sonar built-in the unit. To be more specific, this unit comes with the GT20-TM (4-pin) transducer, including mounts for transom and trolling motor. Its cable measures 20′ (6 m). Also, the transducer includes water temperature sensor, therefore the fish finder unit can also track water temperature. But that’s not all. The unit does feature a Temperature Graph function, which gives you the possibility to observe the temperature fluctuations from a fishing spot to another. This function can be quite useful if looking for certain water currents, for example.
Evidently, the first and most important sonar feature to put on the list, regarding the echo 301dv, is its DownVü sonar function. This particular sonar technology provides you with crystal-clear, photo-like images of the water column under the boat. It uses on frequency of 455 kHz, with a fan-shaped sonar beam. This beam has a side-to-side angle of cca 53°, and front to back, cca 2.5° wide. This type of sonar is great for understanding vegetation, structure and constitution of the bottom, as it gives you an excellent picture of everything that’s hard. As for the fish, they appear like brighter dots.
On the other hand, the 2D sonar is better at reading fish arches, as it “sees” the fish air bladder, and will display them on screen as arches. The 2D, standard sonar can be operated in two modes, at 200 kHz, with a narrow, focused beam, of 15°, or at 77 kHz, with a wider beam of 45°, for better coverage but less detail.
Although it’s a small unit, when it comes to depth capability, it can go quite deep. For down imaging sonar, maximum depth, depending on transducer, salinity and weather conditions, it can reach 750′, while for 2D, up to 1750′. These depths are more likely to be reached in fresh water, rather than saltwater with this unit, though.
Along with the standard 2D and the DownVü sonar technologies, this unit does offer several other sonar related features. The first one to mention is the Fish Symbol ID, which works for the 2D sonar, and changes the appearance of fish arches into fish symbols. It also indicates their actual depth.
Another sonar function is the A-Scope, which is actually a vertical flasher, which can be viewed at the right side of the standard sonar view, showing the most recent sonar data. Bottom Lock is a function that allows you to keep your sonar view close to the bottom, great when looking for bottom fish.
You also get a Split Zoom function and a Flasher function. The Split Zoom gives you the possibility to see the normal view of the sonar on one side of the screen, and a magnified portion of that view on the other side. The Flasher view offers an abstract sonar view, which is actually a circular depth scale that indicates what’s under your boat.
Head unit features
The actual fish finder unit does not feature a really wide screen. However, the 3.5″ diagonal display, offers just enough readability and screen surface to detect fish, analyze the bottom and structure that pass under the boat. The Smooth Scaling™ provides uninterrupted imagery when changing between depth-range scales. Also, the screen features backlight, which offers a better readability during bright light, or when night fishing.
Although this unit has an IPX7 rating, which means it’s resistant to incidental water exposure, and even immersions in 1 m of water, and up to 30 min., it’s best to keep the unit dry. Especially if fishing in salt water, its connectors can corrode.
This unit works with a standard 12V marine battery, like other fish finders. It does come with a power cord of 25′ (7.6 m). The box also includes a tilt and swivel mount, with quick release, and mounts for transom and trolling motor for the transducer.
Believe it or not, this unit does offer some upgrade possibilities. For example, it is compatible with various transducers, and does work with 50/200 kHz transducers. With this type of transducer, you can actually reach the highest listed depths. Also, if using a transducer with an incorporated speed sensor, the echo 301dv can track the speed of your boat.
Even though it’s quite decent fish finder, there are several drawbacks to be mentioned regarding the Garmin 301dv. As mentioned above, the connectors may corrode if they come in contact with salt water. Therefore, this unit may not last that long if installed on a kayak, for salt water fishing. However, this kind of stands for most units within this price range.
Another downside would be the small screen, but on the other hand, this is one of the factors that keep this unit under the price of $200.
Other than these, there isn’t anything much to mention in terms of downsides.
Great unit to have on a small boat, canoe or kayak. With proper installation, cover and care, it can last a pretty long time. It’s not one of the most powerful units out there, but it’s great for shallow and medium depth fishing. It’s one of the most affordable units with down view sonar technology, and with a decent array of other sonar features and functions.