By Todd Ceisner
BassFan Editor

“This is going to be a great tool on the Tennessee River when those fish get out on those ledges.”

“It’s going to be awesome on the Great Lakes, when you’re trying to find that little dip or hump out in front of you.”

“This could be a real player on a lake with a lot of brush piles to help with knowing how long of a cast you have to make.”

These are just a few of the platitudes being thrown around about the new Panoptix sonar from Garmin. It’s hailed as the first all-seeing sonar and it’s hard to argue that claim after seeing it in action on the water.

So much is written and said about new developments in the boating, fishing and tackle industries that it’s hard to decipher what can truly be called a quantum leap anymore in terms of how something can benefit the everyday angler or a tournament pro.

With all of the incredible advancements that have been made in marine electronics – high-definition mapping and sonar – one starts to wonder what the next frontier could be. How can these companies keep coming up with newer, better, more user-friendly products? Panoptix is the new frontier for sonar, it appears.

While Garmin has largely been out of the freshwater market recently, it has come back with a fury and Panoptix is a great building block that should give the company staying power. Garmin is also serious about upping its mapping game. Pros have raved about Garmin’s MaxDef lakes, which feature more detail than any other available mapping software. Garmin continues to survey the nation’s top fishing lakes with its own fleet of boats in order to build its exclusive mapping catalog.

No longer will anglers live in the past when they’re looking at the scroll move across their sonar screens. Panoptix offers up a real-time view of what’s out there, down there and over there. Gone are the days of static views and seeing schools of baitfish or fish that were there 5 seconds ago. Panoptix is all about the here and now.

”Did You See That?”

On a dreary April morning in Alabama, Elite Series angler Fred Roumbanis and I set out to find some water on Lake Guntersville that would showcase what the Panoptix could do. We ran into the mouth of Town Creek and started casting swimbaits along a riprap causeway and on a shallow flat near some stumps and laydowns.

Roumbanis said he saw the benefit of Panoptix immediately after it was installed on his boat.

“I could see my bait coming in and the exact depth it was running,” he said. “Just to learn about every bait in your boat and where the fish are hitting it in the strike zone, before we used to look out and see our line and guess where the fish hit it. Now, there’s more guessing. We can see it. Even if that’s all you use it for, it’s still worth its weight in gold.”

Right away, we both fell into the routine of casting, then staring down at the screen while starting our retrieves. I wanted to see if this whole live view hype was for real. It was. With the LiveVü Forward feature activated, I’d see my bait on the screen as it came back to the boat. I dropped the rod tip to lower the bait and I could track the change immediately on the screen. Neat stuff.

We watched intently as our baits came into view on the screen as the view of the bottom was constantly updated, providing what amounted to a live feed of what was nearby. As Roumbanis panned the trolling motor from side to side, the view was updated instantly rather than a delayed refresh. He pointed it at the bank and we could see how the bottom tapered off from the boulders along the waterline out to the boat, which was in 12 feet. Pointing the transducer straight ahead, we were able to see what was 40 feet out in front of the boat.

Photo: BassFan

With Panoptix LiveVü Forward, you can present baits more precisely to where the fish are in front of you.

We were around fish, too. They showed themselves as red blobs, not the arches I’m used to seeing, moving off the bottom as we brought our baits into their vicinity. Few were in the biting mood that morning.

At one point, near the end of a retrieve, I was watching the screen and saw a red blob come out of nowhere to attack my bait. By the time I looked over where my line was, I felt the hit and tried to set the hook, but it all happened so fast, I missed the fish, which flashed on the surface before heading back to the depths. Roumbanis saw it all unfold as he was also looking at the screen.

“Did you see that!” he roared. “That was so cool. I watched that fish come up and eat your bait.”

Indeed, it was pretty cool (would’ve been cooler had I landed it, though).

He’s banking on Panoptix giving him an advantage at Kentucky Lake in the upcoming BASSFest Elite Series.

“To see where the fish are located up ahead and knowing which direction to cast is incredible,” he said. “You can see the entire playing field in front of you.”

Roumbanis said Panoptix has allowed him to see underneath floating boat docks, something he’s not been able to do in the past.

“Bridge pilings is another place it works great,” he said. “It unbelievable what you can see around those.”

As mentioned earlier, Roumbanis’ boat was equipped with the Panoptix LiveVü Forward, which offers a digital 2D view of the bottom, structure and fish swimming in front of the boat. Updates are provided with a single ping, providing real-time moving images of what’s in the water.

We didn’t switch over to the RealVü 3D Forward option because we were too enthralled by what LiveVü was showing us. With RealVü 3D Forward, users can scan the area in front of their boat and create a forward-looking 3D view of the bottom, structure and fish. Users can control the speed at which the area is scanned to provide more or less detail, making it very easy to identify where the fish really are.

Down There

To complement the features of the Panoptix Forward, Garmin’s Panoptix Down provides a look at what’s swimming below the boat in any direction – in real time – even while stationary. With a Panoptix Down Transducer, available for transom mounting, fishermen can utilize three views: LiveVü Down, RealVü 3D Historical or RealVü 3D Down.

LiveVü Down provides real-time moving sonar images below the boat, allowing users to see small baitfish and large target fish swimming around and pinpoint their distance left or right, and their depth.

RealVü 3D Historical gives the user a wealth of sonar data. It scrolls through the data as the boat moves to show the history of entire water columns – from the bottom to the surface and all of the fish in between. Bottom contours and fish pop in vivid color in three dimensions.

RealVü 3D Down digitally scans the area below the boat from front to back and side to side. A full 3D view of the area under the boat is constructed, showing bottom contour changes, fish and structure, even while stationary.

To learn more about Panoptix and to see it for yourself, check out the embedded video below:


> The Panoptix transducers are compatible with Garmin’s GPSMAP 7400/7600 series, GPSMAP 8000/8500 series and GPSMAP 7x1, 8x0, and 10x0 series chartplotters, as well as the echoMAP 70s and echoMAP 70dv. The Panoptix Forward Transducer is available with an included trolling motor mounting kit and a transom mounting kit, and the Panoptix Down Transducer is sold with the transom mounting kit included.

> Check out more images from the various Pantopix features in the photo gallery below.