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Difference Between Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass

Smallmouth vs Largemouth Bass

Fishermen everywhere would be glad to point out exactly what differentiates a smallmouth and a largemouth bass. Although it may be inferred from the name that the two species difference is in the “mouth,” there are actually more obvious characteristics that define one from the other.

First of all, the smallmouth and largemouth bass aren’t even found on the same geographical location. This is because the smallmouth prefers wide-open spaces while the largemouth prefers bodies of water with logs and weeds. The smallmouth likes their water clear and fast with just gravel at the bottom while the largemouth will thrive at something with more clutter and less current. Temperature is also a big factor as the smallmouth actually likes to live in colder waters.

As may be ascertained the smallmouth and largemouth bass belong to the same family, specifically the sunfish group. Physically, anglers will find that with experience, it is easy to pinpoint a largemouth bass from a smallmouth. Basically, the upper jaw of the largemouth extends beyond the eye, hence the name. On the other hand, the smallmouth presents a smaller jaw with the lines not going beyond the eye point. The largemouth also grows a few pounds heavier at 12 pounds while the smallmouth record is around 7 pounds.

Colors and markings also vary between the two with the largemouth having small lines running horizontally on its body. A smallmouth, on the other hand, has vertical lines from the top to the bottom of its physique. Both are greenish in appearance although the smallmouth may also come in a brownish color which accounts for its nickname “bronze back.”

Catching these two species of fish also employs very different strategies as any experienced angler would tell you. The largemouth usually ventures on the top part of the water which means that they are attracted by top-water bait. Smallmouth are the opposites as they prefer to stay within deep waters; therefore, only biting on lures found below the water. When caught, you’ll find that the smaller fish – the smallmouth – would put up as much fight as possible, usually performing acrobatics midair in order to be let loose from the bait. The largemouth bass just jumps once and then tries to swim for deeper waters.

For avid anglers, the largemouth can be pretty easy to spot since they can be found virtually anywhere at any season – except if it’s too cold, of course. Their favorite live bait includes earthworms, crickets, and minnows. As mentioned, they’re not particularly choosy about when to eat, but early in the morning would be the best time to lure them with food as it is their feeding time. Of course, artificial baits also work on the largemouth although a good angler would know when the best time to use different lures is.

It can be said that the smallmouth are social animals as they travel in groups usually with those that are the same size as they are. The largemouth prefers to swim alone.


1.Largemouth have their upper jaw extending beyond the eye but the smallmouth doesn’t.

2.The largemouth is typically bigger in size at 12 pounds versus the 7 pounds of the smallmouth.

3.The largemouth comes with horizontally running stripes while the smallmouth has vertical stripes.

4.The largemouth prefers waters filled with rocks, weeds, logs, and other hiding places while the smallmouth thrives in clear waters with lots of space for swimming.

5.Top-water baits are best for the largemouth while the smallmouth would more likely go for below-the-water lures.

6.The smallmouth puts up more of a fight when baited.

7.Smallmouth travel in groups while the largemouth prefers to be alone.

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