TESTED: RAYMARINE CHIRP-ENABLED DRAGONFLY COMBO
With its clean and uncluttered fascia, Raymarine’s new CHIRP-enabled Dragonfly combo will keep you updated on all the goings-on under your boat.
You drive the Dragonfly via Raymarine’s now-familiar joystick, with two buttons to the right completing the inputs. The tactile experience is positive and reassuring, even with wet hands in choppy conditions. Prodding the "back" arrow button brings up a simple carousel from which you can select your desired function with the joystick, and you just push to select. That’s it.
The head unit clips into a rather neat quick-release bracket which pivots and inclines with a positive click. Its compact round footprint and slim profile would be well suited to any boat dash, gunnel or even kayak. There is also a provision for an optional Thule lock should you wish to leave it semi-permanently mounted.
Details of the goings-on beneath your boat are gathered by Raymarine’s new teardrop-shaped ClearPulse CPT-60 transducer, which houses two separate sonar channels — CHIRP sonar and CHIRP DownVision.
The CHIRP sonar channel presents on the 5.7in colour screen as a "traditional" sonar image, with fish represented by arches, or variants thereof. The CHIRP DownVision channel is an almost-3D representation of the bottom and draws structure that provides a fair approximation of the detail below the surface. Fish show up as small solid ovals. Each view can be displayed separately or together in split-screen mode.
Unlike Apple products, the Dragonfly’s vivid screen is great in daylight conditions and has a seemingly wider viewing angle than the specifications would have you believe, which will hopefully discourage your nosey fishing buddies from resting their head on your shoulder each time they want to view the screen. Refreshingly, colour palettes are kept to a minimum and don’t serve to distract from the main game.
I’ve deliberately steered clear of getting too technical about CHIRP due to space constraints, not to mention the fact that, like most great advances in technology, the details are, quite frankly, mind-numbingly boring.
The benefit of CHIRP is that it produces a stronger pulse over a wider frequency range, resulting in more positive returns and better discrimination between fish and structure — even those as close as 25mm from the bottom. Basically, you’ll see fish you previously might’ve assumed were part of the structure.
I even know of guys who are using their Dragonfly to actively hunt bottom-dwelling species such as flathead and whiting with great success.
I was blown away when I first experienced CHIRP on a high-end installation. At the same time, however, I held fears the price and complexity might limit its acceptance by mainstream boaties. Happily, it’s safe to say those fears were unfounded.
Raymarine has seized the opportunity and introduced CHIRP for the masses. This is a user-friendly system that simply delivers what it promises — and the queue starts here.
ON THE PLANE
- Much improved fish views
- Better differentiation between fish and structure
- Wide viewing angle
- Visible in direct sunlight
- Simple interface
DRAGGING THE CHAIN...
- Some might prefer more colour options
- They’ll want my demo unit back at some stage
SPECIFICATIONS: RAYMARINE CHIRP-ENABLED DRAGONFLY COMBO
Price as tested: $945
Priced from: $945 (including Navionics Gold chart and dual-element CHIRP DownVision transducer)
MANUFACTURED & SUPPLIED BY
Raymarine Marine Electronics
Tel: (02) 9479 4800
Originally published in TrailerBoat #295, May/June 2013.
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