What is Chirp Sonar – Chirp on Fish Finder

For several years anglers have been using traditional sonars with either single or double frequencies and triple frequency transducers. However, things are now changing with the introduction of chirp technology. What does chirp mean, how does it work, and what are the benefits of using this technology? Read on to get all your questions about Chirp technology answered.

What Is Chirp?

Chirp in full is the compressed high intensity radiated pulse. Initially, it was a military technology used by the US navy, but now it’s common with main fishing electronic manufacturers. One of the fishing equipment that uses chirp is the fish finder. Chirp sends high pulse energy of around 200kHz in the water column. It helps you see individual fish which traditional sonar can’t show. This is because it sends sweeps of frequency, both high and low, while interpreting the frequency after returning.

With standard sonars, they send a single frequency at a time, resulting in limited feedback and poor image quality with low resolution. The constant supply of sweep frequency makes chirp have a bigger scope of data resulting in clear and high-resolution images. Because of this, you can use chirp to locate fish, see the structures underwater, know the bottom consistency and differentiate objects from targets. With this information, you’ll be able to strategize well and meet your target easily. Chirp is suitable for freshwater use in deep waters like those of 10′ and more.

Check out the following short video from Humminbird to get an overview of Chirp technology.

Which Chirp frequencies are the best?

There are three types of chirp frequencies which are the same as 2D sonars, including high, medium and low frequency chirp.

High chirp frequency has a pulse between 150 and 240kHz. You should use it inland and freshwater. It’s suitable for tracking lures, seeing game fish, and for baitfish targeting. You can also use it to target game fish near the bottom structure. It’s the best sonar frequency for shallow water of depths not more than 600 feet.

Another type is the medium chirp frequency which ranges between 80-160kHz. It can scan large areas faster and covers a larger surface. You can use it to see the large fish arch, although showing fewer details than high chirp that sees smaller objects. It’s also good for a depth of less than 600 feet.

The low chirp frequency is below 80kHz. It’s the best for a deeper chirp fish finder in waters with a depth of more than 600 feet. It gives a great depth performance of up to 10000 feet and shows targets at all depths in the water column.

Note that with a high-quality fish finder, you can see two chirp frequencies on the screen at a go. So, you’ll be able to sweep a broad cone on medium frequencies chirp band. If you notice something good, check on it on the tighter focused chirp settings.

How does Chirp work on Fish Finders?

Chirp sonars use a high range of different frequencies that make the transducer vibrate at a low frequency. It, later on, modulates in high pulses that are ten times the duration of the pulse. This means it transmits between 10- and 60-times energy in the water column. What makes the chirp stand out is the pulse compression and correlation feature. It makes the chirp receive and process bigger information from each pulse to get unparalleled resolution and clear pictures on targets. It reduces the inconsistencies in the manner in which various objects reflect the sonar pulse. Chirp makes objects like fish or vegetation show better with different frequencies. It also scans multiple frequencies producing quality images.  Chirp also makes bottom tracking faster and at deeper depths and helps achieve the individual target.

Benefits of using Chirp

Chirp helps you see better the representation of the water column. It also enables you to locate bait in the water. You will also differentiate between bait and weight easily as you drop shot.

You can tell how bass reacts to your bait with this information, making it the best chirp sounder for vertical fishing.  

Another thing you’ll achieve through chirp technology is clear pictures. Having clear images will help you categorize the pictures showing on your unit.

Having a chirp on a fish finder not only helps you locate a school of fish, but you’ll also be able to know the size of each fish in the school, something that’s not possible with the other types of sonars.

Owing to the clarity of chirp, you can understand how gamefish behave with baitfish better. This is because chirp sonar through multiple frequencies gives you the chance to see the predator fish even while in a ball of bait or directly below it.

On Which Units can You Use or Get Chirp

Before you use chirp technology, you’ve got to check if the fish finder or the device you’re going to use it with is compatible with a chirp. So, check with your manufacturer for more details.

Some of the models which are chirp compatible include:

  • The Lowrance units that fall under this category are like all the Elite chirp models, HDS Gen3 Touch, HDS Gen2 with sonar hub. Note that if you’ve got a Lowrance chirp fish finder, you shouldn’t buy another transducer for the chirp. This is because it’s an inbuilt technology in the Lowrance skimmer transducers.
  • Hummingbird ION and ONIX models can also work with chirp sonar. But they should have a chirp sonar module that’s compatible with the chirp transducer.
  • Its also usable on Raymarine Dragonfly units, A, C, and E series multifunction displays that can show chirp sonar.   
  • Chirp is also available in Garmin GPS map units. But EchoMAP 70dv can show chirp sonar if they have a compatible transducer.

Are Chirp Units Expensive?

When chirp technology first got into the market, the units with it were expensive. This was because of the benefits one got by using them and being that it was a new technology. But now, the prices of chirp have significantly dropped. You can now buy chirp either cheaply or expensively since they’re available in the different price range. 

However, it’s advisable to buy the high-end chirp since they come with two independent chirp channels. You can also customize their frequencies to improve your targeting of specific fish. The expensive chirps are also compatible with most transducers and have huge transmitting power.

If you can’t afford the expensive chirps go for the cheaper ones. They are made for inland anglers, so they’ll do you great.

But are chirp fish finders worth the money? If you’ve had this question, it’s time you should confirm that yes, it is. The benefits you’ll get by using chirp are greater and exceeds the amount you’ll spend buying them, especially if you’re fishing for business. To get the value for your money, ensure you work with the correct unit compatible with the chirp. Chirp sonar will change your fishing game and keep you ahead of the rest.

Final Thoughts

Chirp has brought about great changes in the fishing industry since it enables you to see clearly and get quality images. If you want to increase your catch, consider buying a chirp fish finder and enjoy your trip in the water. But ensure you budget well since the best chirp is not cheap.

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