Garmin SideVu VS Humminbird Side Imaging: Which One To Choose?

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Garmin SideVu and Humminbird Side Imaging are two highly popular and praised side imaging fish finders. The main advantage of Garmin SideVu is its higher frequency which secures clearer images, while the greatest advantage of Humminbird Side Imaging is its reasonable price.

To be the best fisherman you can be, you must invest in the best tools available. One of the most profitable ways to upgrade your fishing mastery is using side imaging technology. A side imaging sonar will help you see below the water surface and pinpoint all underwater objects and fish in your proximity.

Many different devices on the market offer side imaging, but, in my experience, Garmin SideVu and Hummingbird side imaging are some of the best fish finders you can currently buy. Do you want to find out more about them?

Stay tuned! I’ll let you know what distinguishes Garmin SideVu vs. Humminbird Side Imaging so that you make an informed decision and purchase the best fish finder for your needs.

Everything You Need To Know About Garmin SideVu Fish Finder

If you want to use innovative sonar technologies to get the best out of your time on the water, consider purchasing a Garmin Side Vu unit. As far as image quality is concerned, this technology is at the very top of the game.

What is Garmin SideVu?

A modern GPS navigation system that uses side imaging technology
Image credit:

The Garmin Side Vu is a modern GPS navigation system that uses side imaging technology to provide you with a detailed, real-time image of the underwater terrain around your vessel. Even though it is predominantly used to identify fish, this technology can do much more. Most of all, it helps keep anglers safe from dangers lurking in the depths.

As its name suggests, Garmin Side Vu reveals fish and underwater objects located on either side of your boat. It delivers a highly-detailed high-resolution image of what is beneath the water’s surface. 

If you compare those images with CHIRP sonar images delivered by some other similar devices, you’ll see that Garmin Side Vu CHIRP technology triumphs most of the time, especially if you have installed the latest software available.

How Does Garmin SideVu Fish Finder Work?

Have you ever wondered how fish finders work? It is high time you found out.

The Garmin SideVu technology utilizes a CHIRP sonar to create and deliver a clear, real-time image of all the fish and objects on the left or right side of an angler’s boat. The sonar sends acoustic pulses into the water ten times every second. These acoustic waves hit fish and objects standing in their way and reflect their image back to the unit. 

Thanks to the advanced CHIRP sonar technology, the images are almost instantaneously delivered to the device screen. As a result, an angler who uses a Garmin SideVu to side-scan the water can make the best possible decision when casting the bait and catch more fish than ever before. 

What Garmin Fish Finders Have SideVu?

It is fairly easy to identify a Garmin fish finder with SideVu technology since all such units feature the letters “SV” in their model names. Here are some of the popular Garmin devices that boast a SideVu sonar:

If you want a fish finder GSP combo, check out the subsequent Garmin devices:

What Transducer To Use For Garmin SideVu Fish Finder?

There is an array of transducers to use with your Garmin SideVu sonar. Depending on your needs and preferences, you can choose one from the ensuing Garmin units:

  • GT30
  • GT40
  • GT41
  • GT50
  • GT51

If you wish to obtain SideVu images of the highest quality, you should opt for a UHD SideVu transducer. It boasts megahertz imaging and covers a wider range of frequencies. Consider one of the following:

  • GT24UHD
  • GT34UHD
  • GT36UHD
  • GT54UHD
  • GT56UHD

Every transducer on this list comes in at least a few different mounting options, such as trolling motor, transom, or thru-hull. Be sure to take that into account when shopping for one. 

How Do You Read A Garmin SideVu Fish Finder? A Step By Step Guide

Here are a few steps that will help you read a Garmin SideVu high-frequency sonar:

  1. Start by determining the direction your boat points to.
  2. Now that you know your boat’s heading, you can identify the center line on your Garmin SideVu display (the two always align).
  3. Observe what’s left or right of the centerline until you notice something of interest.
  4. Use the trackback feature to navigate back to the fish or structure you have spotted.

The following video shows a demo of how SideVu technology works in a real-life situation:

Pros Of Garmin SideVu

  • It boasts a higher frequency compared to Humminbird Side Imaging.
  • It provides some of the clearest images you can get from a fish finder.
  • It has a simple user interface.
  • It is compatible with numerous types of sonars (traditional 2D sonars, CHIRP sonars, and DownVu sonars).

Cons Of Garmin SideVu

  • It is pricier than the Humminbird Side Imaging unit.

Everything You Need To Know About Humminbird Side Imaging Fish Finder

Humminbird Side Imaging device
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Humminbird Side Imaging is yet another sonar technology that can aid you in finding and catching fish. In my humble opinion, it is on par with Garmin SideVu, while costing less. Whatsmore, when it comes to higher sonar frequencies, many experienced anglers claim that Humminbird MEGA side imaging is the best money can buy at this moment.

What Is Humminbird Side Imaging?

Side imaging side by side illustration
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Humminbird Side Imaging enables anglers to scan the water horizontally. It creates a 180-degree view of the left and right sides of a vessel and provides an angler with a clear insight into what’s going on beneath the water’s surface. 

The Humminbird fish finder with side imaging shares the same purpose as all fish finders, and that is finding fish and avoiding underwater hazards.

How Does Humminbird Side Imaging Fish Finder Work?

Humminbird Side Imaging works in a similar way as Garmin SideVu. However, it utilizes different sonar frequencies for creating its images. 

A Humminbird Side Imaging device can cover about 800 feet of space by sending out an ultra-thin sonar beam that goes up to 400 feet to the left and right of the vessel. 

The images of fish and objects standing in the way of this beam are sent back to the device and combined with the images taken immediately before and after. In this way, an angler gets an incredibly detailed 180 degrees side-to-side perspective of the underwater space.

What Humminbird Fish Finders Have Side Imaging?

Humminbird offers Solix and Helix units with side imaging. In my experience, some of the best side imaging fish finders of these two types are:

Humminbird Solix sonars are characterized by a higher screen resolution at lower models but are more expensive too. They also offer numerous screen customization options and are touchscreen compatible.

Humminbird Helix Side Imaging sonars have a wider range of models that are more budget-friendly. However, they do not offer screen customization, nor are they compatible with a touchscreen.

What Transducer To Use For Humminbird Side Imaging?

There are different types of side imaging transducers. You can choose a model that is compatible with your device from the list below:

  • XM 9 HW MSI T
  • XM 14 HW MSI T
  • XNT 9 HW MSI 150 T 
  • XM 9 20 MSI T 
  • XM 14 20 MSI T
  • XHS-9-HDSI-180-T
  • XTM 9 SI 180 T 

If you are unsure which model to choose, you can always consult Humminbird Transducer Compatibility Guide.

How Do You Read A Humminbird Side Imaging Fish Finder? A Step By Step Guide

Reading a Humminbird fish finder is not much different than reading a Garmin SideVu unit. Yet, there is one small difference. 

  1. Start by determining the pointing direction of your boat, and identifying the centerline of the Side Imaging display. (As you already know, the centerline always aligns with your boat’s heading). 
  2. Observe the objects and fish off to the side of your boat. Unlike SideVU, Humminbird Side Imaging shows different types of objects in different colors (for example, green represents land and blue water), making it easier to find what you are looking for.
  3. Once you notice anything of interest, you can use the zoom-in feature to see it in more detail. You can also mark the GPS location directly on your screen.

The following video can help you master Humminbird Side Imaging and settings to get the most out of your unit:

Pros Of Humminbird Side Imaging

  • It costs less than Garmin SideVu. 
  • It shows different objects in different colors, making it easier for you to distinguish between them.

Cons Of Humminbird Side Imaging

  • It has a lower frequency than Garmin SideVu, meaning the images it delivers are not as clear.

Garmin SideVu VS Humminbird Side Imaging: Face To Face

In my experience, both Garmin SideVu and Humminbird Side Imaging are high-quality products that can be of great help to any angler. Yet, which one is the best for you? That is subject to your needs and preferences. Let’s compare the two side-by-side to make your decision even easier!

High-Definition Imaging

Standard Humminbird Side Imaging does not have a frequency as high as Garmin SideVu. However, there are some more recent technologies that shift the balance between these two rivals. I am talking about Mega side imaging.

Namely, in 2016 the Humminbird brand introduced the Humminbird Mega side imaging. It was the first device to ever use megahertz imaging in the 1000 to 1200 kHz range. Thanks to that, it remained the market leader until 2020. Nowadays, Humminbird Mega side imaging faces rather tough competition. 

In 2020, Garmin introduced its form of mega imaging – a UHD (Ultra High Definition) sonar with the same 1000-1200 kHz range as a Humminbird MEGA side imaging sonar. Their Garmin Echomap and GPSmap units with UHD imaging helped restore the balance. As a result, both brands are now neck to neck in the side imaging quality and resolution department. 

Many anglers give a slight advantage to Humminbird MEGA side imaging, while others praise Garmin UHD SideVU, making it impossible to decide on a winner. Yet, if you forget about mega imaging and UHD sonars for a moment and consider only traditional HD sonars, you must give a slight advantage to the Garmin SideVu unit. 

Winner: As far as the overall image quality and clarity are concerned, the Garmin SideVu is the way to go. However, Humminbird Mega side imaging is an exception to this rule.

The video below offers a comparison between one of the Humminbird Mega Side Imaging units and one Garmin UHD SideVu device:

GPS Mapping Capabilities

Garmin typically utilizes the BlueChart mapping system, which is one of the best in the world. It also gives users an option to obtain Navionics cards or LakeVu mapping software. LakeVu US and LakeVu Canada deliver exceptional coverage, clarity, and detail for more than 18,000 lakes and other waterways.

Each GPS Humminbird device comes equipped with an integrated mapping system that uses data from Lakemaster and NOAA. However, some maps might lack detail, making Garmin SideVu mapping capabilities somewhat superior to those of Humminbird Side Imaging.

Winner: Garmin SideVu units (especially Chartplotter units) offer more detailed maps and some innovative features and thus bring their brand yet another victory.


Garmin is typically a more expensive brand than Humminbird. Therefore, a Garmin SideVu unit most often costs more than A Humminbird Side Imaging unit of similar characteristics. Therefore, if you are on a tight budget, you should best consider a Humminbird brand.

Winner: The Humminbird Side Imaging units are typically less expensive than Garmin SideVu ones and thus take the victory stand in this category


Is Garmin side imaging any good?

The Garmin SideVu is very good. In fact, it is one of the best sonar technology you can currently buy on the market. It might be more expensive than other fish finders, but it delivers the best attainable images and is thus well worth investing in.

Does Garmin Sidevu show fish?

The Garmin SideVu shows fish that are on either side of your vessel. Moreover, a Garmin 

SideVu device utilizes a high-frequency sonar to create and deliver exceptionally clear and detailed images of underwater structures and fish in your proximity.

Can you network Garmin to Humminbird?

You can network Garmin to the Humminbird unit. However, to do that, you would have to invest in a network hub which will probably cost you a couple of hundred dollars.

Do Garmin fish finders have side imaging?

Garmin fish finders have side imaging called SideVu. It is fairly easy to recognize Garmin devices that boast their SideVU sonar technology. A Garmin sonar with SideVu technology typically features the letters “SV” in its model name.

Final Reflections

Garmin SideVu VS Humminbird Side Imaging: Which One To Choose?

I hope you enjoyed going through the key differences between Humminbird Side Imaging and Garmin SideVu. Now that you know their strengths and weaknesses, it is time to choose which one to buy! 

You should buy the Garmin SideVu fish finder if…

  • You want very clear and highly detailed HD images. (If that is your priority, consider Humminbird Mega side imaging or Garmin SideVu UHD imaging, too!)
  • You want advanced GPS mapping capabilities.
  • You want the best possible side imaging, regardless of price.

You should buy a Humminbird Side Imaging fish finder if…

  • You want to be able to differentiate between fish and other underwater objects more easily.
  • You are mainly interested in side imaging for fishing and do not require highly detailed maps.
  • You are on a limited budget. 

In my opinion, the choice between Garmin SideVu vs. Humminbird Side Imaging depends on what you are going to use your sonar for. The best fish finder is always the one that ticks all your boxes! 

Ultimately, the goal is to find fish and improve your fishing success. Both Garmin and Humminbird have top-grade side imaging devices that can help you achieve it! So buy one and enjoy the benefits! 

If you have additional questions or suggestions, you can always find me here. Leave a comment, and I’ll get back to you.

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Louis McCarthy

With over 40 years of fishing experience, I am a true veteran of the sport with a passion for reeling in the big ones. From coast to coast, I have lived in some of the best fishing spots the US has to offer. I enjoy sharing my knowledge and love for the sport, one catch at a time. Join me as I explore the great outdoors and share my expertise in the art of fishing. Follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

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