Smallmouth Vs. Largemouth Bass Guide

Are you also unable to differentiate bass species or find it difficult because of their similarities? In this article, I will help you understand some of the basic differences between these two species so that you can be able to identify them easily. It becomes a little tricky to identify them because, as compared to other species, they are of almost the same look and behavior. When it comes to fishing as a sport, two bass species are generally used for this purpose.

Largemouth bass (Micropterus Salmoides) and smallmouth bass (Micropterus Dolomieu) are freshwater fish species that belong to the sunfish family. These are the most popular gaming fish present mainly in North America. It is a state freshwater fish of Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and Tennessee’s state sport fish. The two fish of this industry generate up to 60 billion dollars per year.

These fish are now being imported to Asia as well for sport and food purposes. If you are new to angling, this is a perfect article for you to know the difference. Some of the main differences between smallmouth and largemouth bass and how to tell them apart are discussed.

Difference Between Smallmouth Vs. Largemouth Bass?


Largemouth bass has dark spots, which are sometimes not so dark, and blotches create a horizontal band along the lateral line. They have large stripes that run horizontally.

Largemouth Bass
Largemouth Bass

Whereas smallmouth bass has small lines or dotted structures that run vertically. These dots present in the bass can be of dark brown color or black color.

Underwater Smallmouth Bass
Underwater Smallmouth Bass


The size of smallmouth vary depending upon the location where they are found; males are usually smaller and 2-2.5 pounds maximum, whereas females are 3-6 pounds or more. The largemouth bass is usually larger in size and can reach up to 15-20 pounds.


Smallmouth bass is of brown color but sometimes appears as black, present with red eyes or brown eyes. It mainly depends upon the location where they are residing. The largemouth bass is usually of olive green or grayish-green color.

Fins and Scales

Fins of smallmouth are not divided and are continuous, whereas, in largemouth, there are almost two separate fins on the dorsal side with more than 9 fins in the front. They also have 17 rows of scales, while smallmouth has 10 rows of scales. Although this is a little tough to indicate, this is also one of the differences between them.


It is one of the quickest ways to differentiate both species of bass. In the case of largemouth, the jaw extends beyond the fish’s eye, while the jaw of smallmouth extends only to the middle of the eye.


A smallmouth is present in clearer water than a largemouth as it is intolerant of pollution. They prefer clean water and a healthy environment and are indicators of nature. Smallmouth is present in cooler water tributaries like canals or lakes, streams or rivers and can be present in running or still water.

At the same time, largemouth bass is present in fast running water and has a more torpedo-shaped body, whereas smallmouths are oval in body shape. They can be present in any water, unlike smallmouth, and found throughout the US. Largemouths can tolerate warm water and like thick vegetation. They cover themselves very well to protect themselves from anglers.


The growth of both smallmouth and largemouth bass depends on the summer season, and the larger the summer, the more they prey on other animals and the more quickly they can grow. Smallmouth tends to grow up to 10 pounds while largemouth can grow up to 20pounds.


Smallmouths are basically carnivorous in nature, and they feed on crayfish, insects, and small fish. In contrast, largemouths with the same nature feed on snails, frogs, snakes, salamanders, or even small water birds. They can prey 50 times bigger than their body.


Raising the hatchling usually starts in May and usually lasts till the initial week of July. Smallmouth bass spawn themselves in rocks, and they attack anyone near their bed; they are more finicky than largemouth bass. Unlike largemouth bass, smallmouth bass refuses to spawn in polluted water or where the temperature is too high.


Smallmouth bass can be caught by using crayfish imitations, Texas rigging, or jerk baits. Jigging and crankbaits also work very well for smallmouth bass; jegging can be used to catch bass at depth. Largemouth bass can be caught by using skirted jigs, spinnerbaits, and crankbaits. Using a fishing bed is also one of the wonderful tactics to catch largemouth bass.


Both of the basses show the same behavior time, but some differences can help you identify largemouth and smallmouth. The structure and appearance of largemouth bass are camouflaged, which helps them hide well, and they prey while hiding in thick and dense weeds.

Usually, they are not visible, but once they see baitfish coming, they move out and attack it to eat; as a result, they get caught. Their large mouth opens when they are near their prey and captures it with the help of a water vacuum mechanism in their mouth.

Smallmouth bass also uses camouflage techniques for preying and is normally present in rocky areas. As they like warmer water hence in cold weather, they tend to move at the bottom where the water is a bit warmer.

Best Season to Fish

Usually, fishing can be done all year long, but summers are the best season for fishing smallmouth and largemouth bass. When spawning is at its peak, the spring season is the best time for fishing and putting the bait in the water.

As for in winters or when the weather is a bit cold, these bass tend to move into the depth of the lakes and streams where the water is normal. Fishing can be done at that time of the year and using deep water spinning reels.

Final Thoughts On Small Mouth Bass Vs. Large Mouth Bass

When it comes to largemouth and smallmouth bass, they are both gaming fishes and commonly found throughout the US. These bass are difficult to differentiate by new anglers, but it will be no more difficult for you to differentiate them after reading this article.

One of the major differences is the opening of the mouth. As the name indicates, the largemouth bass has a large mouth, while the smallmouth bass has small jaws. They also have other small multiple differences, which are explained above.

I hope this article will be helpful, and you will be able to identify large and smallmouth bass next time you come across them.

Leave a Comment