Upgrade Worth It?

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LDUBS

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I have an older Helix 7 with GPS and down imaging. I never use the down imaging, just the sonar, GPS/charts.

A newer model with networking for the NMEA interface would be cool, but actually that feature is not worth the $200-$300 extra to me.

I would not normally use side or down imaging, but probably won't find a unit without one of those. Seems the upgrade I might appreciate would be a newer unit with CHIRP. Is having CHIRP noticeably better? $400 to $500 worth of noticeably better? I'm thinking probably not, but have never used one with that feature so don't know.

Curious what folks think about CHIRP makes that big a difference.
 

MrGiggles

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CHIRP basically merges several different frequencies into one, without it you are stuck to just two frequencies, typically. The result is a clearer image, better returns, and a wider cone.

It's better but nowhere near $500 better. Down imaging will give you a far better view of structure while in motion.
 

LDUBS

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CHIRP basically merges several different frequencies into one, without it you are stuck to just two frequencies, typically. The result is a clearer image, better returns, and a wider cone.

It's better but nowhere near $500 better. Down imaging will give you a far better view of structure while in motion.

Thanks. $500 is likely the cost of a new Helix 7. Maybe less if I can find one without imaging.

About down imaging or side imaging, I'm not usually looking at or for structure. I'm typically in deep water. My primary use is to see where the fish are hanging in the water column so I can set my down rigger depth. For example I might trolling at 35' in 150' of water. Many times I don't even have the max depth set so I can see the bottom.

On my current Helix 7, the first 10' or so is pretty much clutter.
 

airshot

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I bought a used outfit this summer when I down graded to a 16' tinny. It came with a Lawrance Elite 7 which is the fanciest sonar unit I have ever owned. Some think this is old technology, but for me, it is awesome !! Been plating with it since July 4 and still havent figured out all the options. Like you, I mostly just use the fish finder and gps features, have used the down scan on a few ocassions to define what was down there. I would have no reason for spending big bucks to upgrade when I am not using all the features on my current model. I already find my self spending valuable fishing time playing with the sonar unit trying different things!! While it has been a great, fun, tool, it hasnt actually put more fish in my boat !!! So....why spend that hard earned money??? If I were a pro fisherman or a guide then it might be worth the bucks, but until I figure out how to use my current unit...just gonna keep havin fun with what I have !!
 

LDUBS

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I tend to agree CHIRP alone isn't worth the prices I am seeing. I would reconsider if prices for a CHIRP sonar w/ GPS come down to a couple hundred. Imaging is the big deal these days, finding a sonar-only unit may be wishful thinking, IDK.
 

cyclops2

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The chirp FUZZ BALL echos are terrible if there are fishes grouped together. shows up as a big pile of squiggly balls. Can not see bass or others traveling with bait schools. Useless to me.
 

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Yeah, chirp is basically a standard for any modern unit. If you don't use a downscan now, I'd say the benefit would be minimal or nonexistent for how you use your unit. If you fish, or just want a more precise view of underwater structure, I find chirp to be helpful. Not sure if I could put an exact price tag on how beneficial it is, but I'll say that I'm absolutely glad that I have it and I do use it a lot.

I run a small, but modern Garmin unit with traditional, chirp, and gps. My go-to screen is a split between traditional and chirp because they provide slightly different visual data. As MrGiggles mentioned, you get a clearer picture, especially on structure. I use my unit mostly for fishing, and to a lesser extent for saving waypoints and navigation. For fishing structure like a submerged tree, traditional would show more of a clump, but is better at identifying fish arches. Chirp will show me the various branches of the tree, but I can't see individual fish as easy. So the COMPARISON between the two data streams (...or combination of the two streams...) is what I find to be most helpful in understanding what is below me.
 

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