Fish Finder Fishing

How Does CHIRP Sonar Technology Work?

Introduction to Chirp Sonar Technology

To get the best understanding and appreciation out of CHIRP signals, you have to know about the history involved. This technology actually has a commonly seen yet intriguing origin. Can you guess? If you guessed military operations, feel proud for answering right. If you already knew the answer, you should feel proud too for obvious reasons.

Extra points for knowing that SONAR got its start in the 1950s. This is around the same time CHIRP got its start as well. With advances being made all of the time, the science is currently popular with the general public. And frankly, it’s making something of a splash. When using CHIRP signals, two-dimension sonar gets the boost it needs to take fishers to another level of hunt and gather.

They say if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. They also say that less is more. Well, you may find that they are wrong when you consider how CHIRP Sonar compares to regular sonar methods.

It turns out that using multiple frequencies is exactly what was needed to give fishing and finding fish even more precision as a sport or skill. So as a matter of fact, a strong shorter burst doesn’t fare better than a strong steady burst that changes. Shorter bursts yield inconsistent and incomplete data that requires a bit of tea reading on your part. Or, at least that’s how it used to go for the masses until our introduction to CHIRP fish finding

What Does it Mean to use CHIRP Technology?

When a fisher uses the acronym CHIRP, they mean Compressed High-Intensity Radar Pulse. Basically, this technology boils down to a tool that delivers more dings when it pings. The frequency in these pings results in images that are easier to interpret while looking for just the right fish. It’s actually the range in frequencies that make a CHIRP so accurate.

There’s more than one beneficial aspect to the accuracy of images generated by CHIRP signaling. For starters, you can do your bottom tracking at deeper depths with more speed. Also, there’s a better distinction between objects that may be close to one another.

Because a CHIRP signal uses more than one frequency to create an image, you need to know how to interpret the information. This is due to the extended nature of the cycles used. They are more amplified than traditionally confined sonar pulses.

However, these different pulses don’t have to compete for your attention, and you can use them in a complementary way. Extended signals can piggyback on the mechanics of traditional fixed pulses, so to speak, as long as you use a low-peak source of power. This results in an enhanced range and resolution of signal strength, which translates to an improved noise ratio.

Improved noise ratio means that a CHIRP signal can extract true images from background interference. Where traditional sonar provides you with objects with a bit of clutter, using different frequencies shows things separately. When a fisher says that they “chirp” while using their fishing technology, it means that they see more than just blips and bumps on a screen.

Open Sport Fishing Boat

How do you Make CHIRP Signaling Work for You?

Sure, it’s great to know why a CHIRP works to add expertise to your fishing experience. But, wrapping your mind around the details of how this happens makes knowing how to use one even better. It’s all about being able to process the information both visually and conceptually once echoes bounce back from differential frequencies.

There’s too much diversity among objects floating at various depths for one single frequency to discern them precisely. To solve this problem, CHIRP units run on three separate levels depending on the depth where you fish. Rather than use a single frequency that’s good for detecting everything, which allows you to decipher objects well enough, chirping uses 3 to 4 of them.

These pulses happen in longer faster vibrations when compared to a traditional SONAR transducer. This puts way more energy into the area of water where you fish. In fact, it can be anywhere between 10 to 50 times the amount. With all these different pulses and levels of energy entering the water, all kinds of details pop up on the screen.

Getting down to the finer details, CHIRP signals happen in a series of cycles that range from 50kHz to 200kHz over and over again. That’s where the details between objects come from. But, High, Medium, and Non-CHIRP signaling should be used for different water depths.

If you’re going to do your fishing in waters less than 600 feet, High frequencies work better. This is especially true when it comes to telling baitfish from game fish laying near the bottom of inland waters. It can also help you track, and subsequently lure, the fish you want from the others.

When you want to change looking deeper for wider area coverage, a Medium CHIRP frequency shows you signs of bigger fish. But, these images are not going to be detailed as High pulses. Coming in 80kHz – 160kHz, it’s more for getting a quick view of what could be missed by other settings.

Between 50kHz – 200kHz, non-CHIRP pulses are actually good for deeper waters where fish tend to swim freely. There’s not going to be so much interference between your boat and the fish. So, there’s not as much need for differentiation between objects.

Besides having a general idea of how CHIRP signals operate, you should have a basic idea of how to make them work for you. Starting in shallow water, just about where the temperature makes a change, is the best place to get a hang of things. Try to keep your boat still while getting used to the difference in interpreting separate objects.

A Little More Information About Chirp Signals

So, it’s only natural to ask yourself how does using different frequencies work on a fundamental level. Basically, the technology works on sending ascending kHZ from antennas. And, CHIRP signals last longer as to get a broader sweep of a water area.

And, even though it may seem like the antenna and pulse do all the work and deserve the glory, there are other components in play. You can’t forget about the modulation unit and screen that both have to be compatible. This compatibly is the game-changer, because of the speed and duration of CHIRP signals.

How Does Standard Sonar Compare to CHIRPs?

How does a series of CHIRP signals compare to the standard methods of sonar? Honestly, to answer that question you only have to look at each method one at a time. It doesn’t hurt to put them side by side to get a few answers as well.

To be fair, we should look at what traditional sonar has to offer you as a fisherman. First of all, it works. A fish pretty much has to be actively hiding from you to escape regular sonar. All you have to do is keep the frequency right and it shouldn’t cause too much of a fuss to the wildlife.

But, standard sonar doesn’t really show you what’s going on directly below your boat. It just tells you something blipped, so it doesn’t do that well to know what’s going on underneath with great detail. Something is either there or not with sonar, and how it looks is up to chance.

On the other hand, there’s DownScan sonar that really delivers in the performance department. This kind of technology lets you see what’s under the water with precision and detail. But, there is a drawback to this convenience. You may find that the images from DownScan a little to clean. This comes from having to much detail as to the size of a fish, which allows it to blend in with the environment ironically.

To be fair and clear, it’s not as if CHIRP signals show you something that other SONAR methods do not. Unless we’re talking about background noise and interference. In that case, the other methods show you more static and less objects.

The best way to describe a comparison of these methods is that CHIRP shows you everything you could see before but with better details. The difference is so striking that what looks like floating paramecium with regular sonar actually look like fish when you CHIRP it. Also, there’s a clearer difference in objects and background environment. It’s just like looking underneath your boat and seeing fish float by in a somewhat photographic sense.

There’s really in point trying to compare CHIRP signaling to other methods, because it’s a definite upgrade. A better comparison to make is whether you are better using it for viewing straight down or from the side. But, that would kind of depend on your fishing style. Without a doubt, there are clear advantages to using CHIRP pulses to find fish.

Fishing with CHIRP

Advantages of CHIRP Sonar

It’s not as if traditional Sonar doesn’t try or deliver results. Technically, it does everything that CHIRP signals do in that it listens for echoes to bounce back. Ultimately, chirping relies on a high, strong, long tone to get the job done.

There are fish finders that use more than one frequency to produce an image. Some of them can use two or even three, and the results are beneficial to be sure. But, it doesn’t really address the fact that high pulses are good for shallower water while low pulses work deeper. There’s something missing to make the frequencies work in tandem.

So what are the Advantages of Using a CHIRP Fish Finder?
What are some of the advantages of using CHIRP signals? These pings do more than give you a truer understanding of what happens in the water. They help you catch more fish by removing some of that zen-like guesswork suited for casual fishing. It’s all about providing you with an accurate representation of what happening in the depths of water.

Like any tool, CHIRP signaling can’t do the work of catching fish for you, but it can give you the information needed to get the job done effectively. So, this means from deep-sea drop shots to angling in the lake, you have better chances of catching what you want. The strategic advantages just might make you feel guilty.

Just about every fisher knows that you have to feed the fish a little bit before you can reel them in. Frankly, many of us know the frustrated embarrassment of throwing bait into the water and getting nothing in return. The only thing worse than that is watching someone else catch the game after you put in all the prep work. Using CHIRP signals makes those days a thing of the past.

With the right frequency in play over the right spot, CHIRPs take the guesswork out of knowing the difference in the fish in an area. This lets you know how the game fish are reacting to the bait that you have in the water if any. But, the advantages don’t stop there.

Telling the difference between fish lets you know when one school is worth hooking or passing off as a random problem. These pulses work well for fishers who like to use the ledge. Being able to tell the difference in a school of fish lets you find the whopper to focus on. With enough familiarity with interpreting what’s on the screen, you’ll be a master a knowing what schools of fish are swimming past one another. That is you’ll be more of a master than you are all ready.

With CHIRP signals, it’s all about really seeing the nuances and relationships between the different kinds of fish. In this way, you can ignore any type of underwater action based on just the outline and not the size of the wildlife involved. It’s no longer a guessing or waiting game based on what you can make out from a grainy screen. For some of us, offshore fishing may never be the same again.

Shop for Latest CHIRP Sonar

How do you get CHIRP pulses into your lifestyle? Well, there are two ways that you can get it. The first is to simply get it from a supplier so that you can attach the technology to your fishing gear. Moreover, you have to get the concept of what the name means. Getting it the second sense makes a difference in how you’re bound to use it in the first context.

In a nutshell, you just have to shop around and listen to the buzz to know what brand is putting out the hottest product. Naturally, a few names are going to pop on the top of the list. Somebody has to be there, right? As a basic primer, here are a few to go with.

There’s nothing wrong with checking out the Lowrance models, which include a few lines like HDS Gen2. But, the fact that any skimmer transducer under this brand name is compatible makes it a front-runner for value. This compatibility applies to all Elite CHIRP fish finders as well.

Raymarine has a few models that can handle the demands of a CHIRP signal. They include the Dragonfly in a series of E, C, and A. These are all multifunctional and modular units.

There are other names you can go with if those two don’t meet your standards. For example, Humminbird has its ION unit, and Garmin has a good product in the market with the EchoMAP 70dv. Both are worth looking over at least once.

But to really get what makes CHIRPs worth your time, you have to understand the fundamentals of the science behind it. Different frequencies signaled through the water are like the sound of the music scale. Each note reflects differently off the fish swimming in your area. When the notes are repeated in a cycle the echoes that return are complex enough to represent a vibrant picture.

This picture has much better quality than that of traditional sonar and far more versatility. But, there are a few details that involved, and they are explained well in the following video. This clip provides a scientific breakdown of the mechanics involved and does so with an everydayness that makes it feel simple.


You may be asking yourself if upgrading to CHIRP Sonar is worth your time and money. In truth, you should be asking yourself if not having this kind of system is worth the headache of fishing without it. To help you answer this question consider the following facts.

Traditional methods of sonar really work on a fixed frequency and don’t do much else. Meanwhile, a Chirp signal can send a signal in a wide range of speeds. So whatever you’re getting the old way, you could be getting more using compressed signals.

If you end up not liking knowing the size and shape of the fish in the water or not having less background interference, you can always switch back by using the slower higher pulses. And, then there’s the superior separation and distinction in objects that work to your advantage.

A few hundred dollars is more than worth the added value to your fishing technology. But before you shrug off the benefits of CHIRP signals, you should know that these types of transducers are the smartphones of fish finding. Soon enough everyone will have easy access to them, and you don’t want to be behind the curve, do you?

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