What is CHIRP on a Fish Finder? [2021]

The earliest model fish finders have been utilizing 2D sonar technology for a number of years until recently when CHIRP sonar was first introduced to the fishing industry. CHIRP stands for Compressed High-Intensity Radiated Pulse. This technology has revolutionized the way fish finders work and the levels at which they are capable of operating. 

CHIRP sonar was originally developed for military purposes, but the technology was quickly discovered to be very valuable for anglers in both saltwater and freshwater environments. CHIRP signals can be sent out using radars, lasers, and sonar equipment. These components work by sending out sound waves that are picked up and oriented in a way that lets you view what’s beneath your transducer. 

The main difference between the traditional 2D sonar and CHIRP technology is that CHIRP sends out a much longer pulse duration, which allows the device to pick up much more detail with greater accuracy than ever before. 

How Does CHIRP Work?

Unlike traditional sonars, CHIRP uses a series of frequencies that vary in length. When it comes to using CHIRP in fish finders, these transducers operate at a much lower frequency than your average sonar equipment that might be used for military purposes. The CHIRP’s extensive range of varying frequencies help to combine together and form a much more accurate and detailed image of what’s below your boat. 

CHIRP sonar pulses can be as high as 117k and are said to be as much as 50 times stronger than the average pulse that is typically used in 2D sonar technology. The CHIRP system retrieves this data that bounces back from the system and compiles a pulse compression and pattern compilation that gives you an overall view of the different features that line the bottom of the particular body of water below your boat. 

Newer CHIRP technology is now capable of being adjusted down to lower frequencies that are also combined with higher frequencies to create a more comprehensive image that cuts down on the amount of extra ‘noise’ that often happens with older sonar systems. Thanks to the variety of lower and higher frequencies, the CHIRP system is capable of reaching down to a much greater depth more quickly than other, more traditional systems. 

High CHIRP vs Medium CHIRP 

CHIRP sonar can be divided into high CHIRP or medium CHIRP, or even non-CHIRP sonar. Each frequency has its own set of limitations and advantages and you should understand how each one will function in different environments. 

High CHIRP 

High CHIRP operates at frequencies of up to 150-240kHz. This type of CHIRP will provide exceptional levels of detail and is best used in freshwater lakes or rivers where you are fishing in less than about 600 feet of water. Since the High CHIRP is much more sensitive than Medium CHIRP, you’re much more likely to pick up small schools of bait fish, as well as small or medium-sized game fish that are at or near the bottom of the lake you’re at. 

Medium CHIRP 

Medium CHIRP is designed to operate at 80-160kHz and is much more suitable for fishing in offshore environments when your boat is expected to scan a much greater section of water. Medium CHIRP is more useful when you are trying to scan larger areas more quickly and detect larger schools of fish that might be hanging out near reefs, shipwrecks or other deep water structures that often hold large numbers of fish. 

One of the only downsides to using Medium CHIRP is that you’ll be getting less detail than you might with High CHIRP, which makes it difficult to tell just what type of fish you’re looking at in some cases. You won’t be able to view small objects with the same intense deetail that High CHIRP offers, but Medium CHIRP is very useful when it comes to quickly sweeping over vast sections of water. 

Benefits of Using CHIRP Sonar 

Now that we’ve mentioned the specific capabilities that CHIRP Sonar offers, we will explain some of the obvious ways that it gives you a clear advantage on the water when compared with other types of sonar technology. CHIRP sonar is easily the most useful type of technology aside from SideScan or DownScan technology and the advantages that it offers are clear. 

Offers a More In-Depth View 

One of the most obvious differences in CHIRP sonar and traditional 2D technology is that CHIRP allows you to obtain a much more in-depth view of what’s beneath your boat. Since it uses multiple frequencies, CHIRP sonar helps most experienced anglers differentiate between large species of game fish and smaller bait fish that the larger species might be chasing after. 

When using traditional 2D sonar, it might be hard to tell whether a reading represents a ball of bait fish or some type of underwater structure. However, with CHIRP sonar, you can typically tell the difference and adjust your strategy and approach accordingly. 

Allows You to Categorize Fish 

Another great advantage that CHIRP offers over other types of sonar is the ability to categorize fish and understand whether a fish reading might be a small crappie, or a sizable bass. When reading certain areas that have abundant numbers of fish, it can be hard to tell the difference between small schools of bait fish and larger bait fish that might still be schooled up. CHIRP sonar helps to eliminate most of the guesswork and gives you a clearer picture of every minute detail along hard-to-read areas like ledges or brush piles where many different species and sizes of fish might congregate together. 

Clearer Picture of Water Column 

One of the most important qualities you look for in sonar equipment is the ability to provide readings for different kinds of fish. It’s also equally important to have detailed imaging for anything else that’s beneath your boat. Knowing where standing timber, brush piles, fallen trees and other structures are along the bottom can be a huge advantage to making better decisions about when and where you’re going to target fish in a certain area. 

Using CHIRP sonar, you’ll be able to more easily tell the difference between a brush pile and a small school of fish or any other type of object below your boat. If you know there are a school of bass below your boat and you aren’t getting a bite with certain types of lures, you can reassess and use a different approach to gain a better understanding of what the fish will be more apt to strike at in these instances. 

Conclusion 

Understanding all of the different factors between CHIRP sonar and other types of electronic equipment can be difficult to read and tell the difference between in some cases. CHIRP has revolutionized the fishing industry and it can provide a clear advantage to those willing to invest in a better quality fish finder. Using these basic details, you should now have a more full understanding of how CHIRP sonar works and how you can use it to enhance your time on the water to be more productive. 

Donny Karr
 

Donny Karr is an avid outdoorsman and writer whose work has been featured in magazines and websites for nearly a decade. He enjoys bass and crappie fishing in the lakes around the southeastern United States, as well as trout fishing in the streams and rivers of the Appalachian mountains. He enjoys keeping up with the latest news and gear items in the fishing industry and is always looking forward to his next outdoor adventure.