These days, the brand Lowrance is almost synonymous with “fishfinder” for many fishermen. And it’s no surprise why. Lowrance has been producing sonar and GPS units for fishermen for decades. They produce some of the best fishfinder and chartplotter units on the market. We’ve covered Lowrance models in previous reviews, including the Lowrance Elite 7 CHIRP, a very popular model. However, today we will dive into a review of the Lowrance Elite 4 CHIRP fishfinder/chartplotter. Although the Elite 4 is a more affordable option for those working within a tighter budget,
Design & Durability
The affordability of this unit is in part due to the small size of the Elite 4. You will immediately notice that the Elite 4 is definitely one of the smallest fish finders you can buy. It measures only 6.6 x 2.2 x 3.8 inches. The compact design makes it an ideal companion for fishermen who are fighting for space on their vessels, those in canoes, kayaks and other smaller boats. Of course, the unit is fully waterproof, rated at IPx7. This rating provides the Elite 4 Chirp with up to 30 minutes of full submersion in water a meter deep. Big waves, merciless rain and spilled beverages won’t hurt this unit, just don’t let it sink to the bottom of the lake. The plastic mount has a tilt/swivel head and can be fastened to your boat or kayak using the four screw holes in the mount.
Display & Usability
Of course, at such a great price and small size, the Lowrance Elite 4 Chirp does have some drawbacks: most notably, the size of the display. Because the body of the fishfinder is so small, it can only house a 4.3 inch display. The display itself is vivid and bright, being a fully backlit LED 16-but colour screen. The 480 x 272 resolution is certainly clear, but for some folks this may be too small. As a comparison, the size of an iPhone 6 is 4.7 inches diagonally, so pull out your phone and shrink it just a touch. Despite its small size, you can still use Lowrance’s multi-window display options. These options let you choose from a couple pre-set display layouts, including the most popular triple-display view which includes a navigational chart, CHIRP sonar and the DownScan sonar imaging. If you use your iPhone 6 all day without issue, then the size of the Lowrance Elite 4 screen shouldn’t be an issue for you. If you think you can’t get over the small screen despite the small, compact versatility of the Elite 4, then maybe you need to consider a larger model.
GPS & Mapping
Like all Lowrance Elite models, the Elite 4 CHIRP has a built-in GPS antenna to help you chart your path. The high-sensitivity antenna relays positional data to the unit including your current speed, position, heading and more. Using the GPS capabilities of the Elite 4, you can store up to 3000 waypoints and save 100 routes in the unit. Using waypoints, you are able to mark hotspots, places to check out later, or to mark obstacles in or under the water to steer clear from. If the 3000 waypoints and 100 paths aren’t enough for you (how often are you fishing?!) then you can always throw a microSD card in the built-in slot for extra storage. The GPS has an included world reference basemap, which can also be supplemented by other software such as Lowrance’s Lake Insight or Nautic Insight, or other third-party software such as Navionics, HotMaps or Fishing Hotposts PRO. You can also create your own map from the sonar data you collect while fishing, using Lowrance’s Insight Genesis. Even though the Elite 4 CHIRP is smaller than other models, it still has the same GPS capabilities.
Just like other Lowrance fishfinder/chartplotters, the Elite 4 CHIRP possess both CHIRP sonar and DownScan imaging capabilities. Typical sonar technologies use a few frequency of sound waves, that can only fire one at a time, giving you a rough idea of what fish are hiding below. CHIRP sonar uses three separate frequencies (low/med/high ranges) to fire simultaneously, giving you a much more accurate picture of what’s in the water below your boat. The CHIRP frequencies fire at 50/83/200 kHz and can reach to a maximum depth of 3000ft. CHIRP sonar produces much more clear fish arcs, and can more easily distinguish fuzzier features like groups of baitfish from a mess of weeds.
DownScan imaging is another great feature of the Lowrance Elite 4. DownScan sends out sound waves at a higher frequency than CHIRP, at 455 kHz which can reach a maximum bottom depth of 300 ft. DownScan uses the same transducer as the CHIRP sonar, but provides an image of the water bed, directly underneath your boat. You can more easily make out any drops or plateaus using DownScan, as well as visualize fish that hide amongst the weeds. When using DownScan and CHIRP together simultaneously, which you can do using the multi-view modes, you get a great view of any fish in the water around you.