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About Fishing: To CHIRP or not to CHIRP

CHIRP Sonar continues to be a buzz word in fish-finding technology.

Developed in the 1950s by the military, it now comes standard on all the major fishing electronics manufacturers.

Not limited to deep water use, anglers are also reaping the benefits of CHIRP technology for use in shallow waters.

"Traditional sonar relies on just one or two frequencies to provide all the information to the processor, which limits the level of detail that can be produced," according to Jacob Scott of Lowrance Electronics.

Freshwater anglers use 200 KHZ, the most with traditional 2D sonar. Scott adds, "Without CHIRP, it would produce a continuous pulse at 200 KHZ. A CHIRP system will shoot a sequence of pulses, one at 160 KHZ, then the next at 161 KHZ, the 162 up to 200 KHZ, then start over. Different objects — whether they are fish, weeds, brush — reflect better or worse with different frequencies. By sending multiple frequencies, CHIRP units can produce much more detailed images then non-CHIRP units. In addition to greater detail, CHIRP produces images with better target separation, deep water penetration and decreased clutter on the screen."

The CHIRP difference

If you're a fisherman that relies on your sonar, you will reap the most benefits from CHIRP technology. Anglers vertically jigging walleyes, spotting pan fish on the weed lines, drop shot for smallmouth bass or fisherman wanting to separate bait fish from game fish, pay attention.

"One of the most impressive things that CHIRP does for anglers is that it provides anglers an unprecedented representation of the water column and a much better picture of a bait in the water," Scott said. "With CHIRP, we've been getting target separations of less than two inches, making it easier than ever to differentiate your weight and bait while drop shotting or vertical jigging. Having that level of detail gives anglers a much better idea of how bass react to their baits and will be a huge hit with the vertical fishing crowd. Without CHIRP, lots of times you'll just see random schools of fish on your locator, but don't get much more than that."

"With CHIRP, the clarity improves to where you can differentiate the size of the individual fish in the school," he continued. "It will let you more easily differentiate big shiners from small ones for example, or a school of perch from a school of crappie."

CHIRP sonar is the clear difference to seeing and understanding how game fish relate to bait fish.

Important to note, all of today's fishing electronic manufacturers offer CHIRP technology within their product line. It's critically important to look into each manufacturer's specifications. Not all depth sounders manufactured are CHIRP-friendly.

Based on my personal experience, having used CHIRP the past three years, I would not purchase a depth sounder unless it is CHIRP capable. Just being able to separate bottom hugging walleyes from the bottom has been a game changer for my fishing — and that is just one of the advantages of CHIRP-capable depth sounders.

Attention anglers of all ages

Meet and learn from the areas two most respected and experienced fishing guides — Jason Durham and Jason Rylander — at 6:30 p.m. Friday, April 23 at the Park Rapids American Legion. Admission is free, and all kids will receive a prize.

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