Garmin SideVu Vs ClearVu (What Are The Differences, And What Are They Good For?)


by Robert Ceran

Garmin produces some of the best fish finder electronics on the market, and have continuously improved their sonar technology over the years.

However, one of the biggest challenges that Garmin fish finders pose to novice anglers is that they come in a bewildering variety of shapes, sizes, and specifications.

Two of the main types of Garmin fish finders are models with ClearVu and SideVu sonar, and it’s important to understand what each of these is good for.

Garmin sv vs cv

In this article we’ll compare the key differences between Garmin SV vs CV fish finders, and will explain what each of these is ideally suited for, so you can choose the right one for your purposes.

What is the difference between Garmin ClearVu vs SideVu?

The difference between Garmin SV vs CV is that ClearVu is down imaging sonar designed to show a high level of detail in a narrow area under the boat, while SideVu is side imaging sonar designed to cover very large areas of water to either side of the boat. 

ClearVu thus generates the most detailed images, but only covers a small area, while SideVu generates much less detailed images, but covers a large area, which is useful for scanning a lot of ground to find fish holding structure.  

What is Garmin ClearVu?

ClearVu is Garmin’s version of down imaging sonar, which uses a special cv transducer to display a narrow section of water straight underneath the boat with very high resolution and crisp detail. 

What is a cv transducer?

A cv transducer is designed to emit a very narrow sonar cone that hardly widens as it travels down in the water column. This allows it to avoid a lot of overlap between objects in the sonar cone, which in turn results in a high object separation and more clearly defined details. 

What is the difference between Garmin ClearVu vs traditional 2D sonar?

While Garmin ClearVu uses a special cv transducer that produces a very narrow sonar cone, traditional 2D sonar uses a round transducer shape that creates a wider sonar cone that widens as it travels down through the water column.

Because of this difference, ClearVu only shows a very narrow section of the water column (but with a very clear image), while traditional 2D sonar shows a bigger area of the water column, (but with a more blurry image).

Each of these types of sonar have their own advantages and disadvantages. Traditional 2D sonar is great because it allows you to view a larger area, and thus detect more structural features and fish. ClearVu, on the other hand, only covers a very small area, but generates a much clearer image of the objects and fish in that area.

What is the difference between Garmin ClearVu vs DownVu?

Garmin ClearVu is a newer and improved version of DownVu, while both are types of down imaging sonar. ClearVu uses CHIRP and has a slightly smaller sonar cone than DownVu, which both help to generate even greater image clarity.

Is Garmin ClearVu worth it?

Yes, Garmin ClearVu is worth it when fishing over dense cover (such as brush piles or sunken trees), since ClearVu can detect individual fish that are right next to, or even inside thick cover. Traditional 2D sonar, on the other hand, struggles to identify individual fish in situations like this, as the signals tend to blur into each other.

This also applies to situations where fish hover close to the bottom. 2D sonar most often can’t detect these fish as separate from the bottom, and they tend to look like humps that are part of the bottom. With ClearVu, on the other hand, you can clearly see these fish as separate from the bottom, which thus enables you to target them with your lure or bait presentation. 

What is the difference between Garmin ClearVu vs CHIRP?

While ClearVu relies on a special transducer design to create a very narrow sonar cone, CHIRP is an improved version of traditional sonar that uses multiple sonar frequencies instead of just one.

While traditional sonar uses a single frequency (often 77 or 200 kHz), CHIRP works with a whole range of frequencies in either the low, mid, or high range. As a result of this, CHIRP produces stronger signals, and better resolution than traditional sonar. 

So actually, ClearVu and CHIRP are not different types of fish finders, but rather different types of sonar technology that are often used together in the same transducer. In fact, Garmin ClearVu comes with a CHIRP transducer, and this combination produces some of the most detailed down imaging results that are currently achievable with a fish finder. 

What is Garmin SideVu?

SideVu is Garmin’s version of side imaging, which uses a special transducer design to send out two broad sonar cones to both sides of the boat. These sonar cones cover very large areas that extend hundreds of feet to either side of the boat.

SideVu is designed to allow you to scan a large area of a lake in order to identify prominent structures, such rock piles, sunken bridges, creek beds, etc. Once you have found these structures, you can then investigate them more closely with ClearVu or 2D sonar to check for the presence of fish. 

Many anglers start by driving around a lake at a relatively high speed, while watching their Garmin SideVu readout to spot structures, cover, or even schools of bait fish. When they spot something that looks promising, they then head over to it, and use a more detailed sonar to check it out in full detail.

Does Garmin SideVu show fish?

In most cases, Garmin SideVu does not show individual fish. However, it can be great for identifying schools of bait fish, which show up as dense balls on SideVu. Also, with a lot of experience, you may be able to detect large fish with SideVu, though its main purpose is to identify structure, and not fish.