Spotted Bass vs Largemouth Bass: Comparison Guide


Spotted bass and largemouth bass are among the most popular freshwater fish. However, it can get difficult to tell which one you’re dealing with since they are pretty similar. Of course, some differences can help you determine the type of fish you have caught.

Bear in mind you cannot notice the difference between spotted bass vs largemouth bass based solely based on spots, stripes, and coloration. These features can drastically change depending on the water conditions. Keep reading to find out how to identify your catch in just a few easy steps, which will come in handy next time you’re out fishing.

Spotted Bass vs Largemouth Comparison

Before talking about the differences between these two kinds of fish, let’s get more familiar with them. When talking about largemouth bass vs spotted bass, it is important to mention that they originally inhabited the central and eastern parts of the US. However, their habitat has expanded throughout the whole country.

Apart from finding them in the states with the Gulf current, you can also find them anywhere from Virginia to Georgia. So, if you are living in some of these areas, grab your bass fishing rod and head to the nearest river. Catching this kind of fish is exciting, but you will also enjoy its taste since it can be prepared in many different ways.

Spotted Bass vs Largemouth Bass Main Differences

There are a few main differences that can help you identify which type of bass you are dealing with. First, take a look at its jaw length, stomach markers, tongue, cheek scales, and dorsal fin. Next, you should observe the behavior of the fish as well as some other characteristics.

Bear in mind that sometimes you won’t be able to notice specific features. If that is the case, you should not be worried. Simply move on to the next point of distinction to determine the type of bass.

1. Jaw Length

Start by quickly checking the jaw of the fish. Always observe these differences when the mouth is closed. Pay attention to the upper corner. On a spotted bass, the upper corner does not extend over the eye line. On the other hand, the jaw extends past the rear of the eye on largemouth bass, since its jaw is longer.

2. Tongue

To determine the type of bass, you should look at its tongue. A spotted bass would have a rough patch in the center of its tongue. It is usually small and shaped like a rectangle. On the other hand, a largemouth bass does not have any rough patches on the tongue. Its tongue is completely smooth. Bear in mind that this difference can be kind of difficult to spot, so move on to the next identification point if you are struggling.

3. Dorsal Fin

The difference in the dorsal fin is likely the most significant one. Carefully inspect the body of the fish. On a spotted bass, the fin is connected. In contrast, the fin is either completely separate or slightly separate.

4. Cheek Scales

Another important difference is their cheek scales. A spotted bass typically has much smaller cheek scales when compared to the scales on their whole body. On the other hand, a largemouth bass has the same size scales all over its body, including cheeks.

5. Stomach Markers

You will notice numerous lines consisting of spots on spotted bass. In contrast, a largemouth bass has a completely white stomach without any spots or other marks. Also, you could take a look at the side of the fish. A spotted bass typically has a dark lateral line, while that is not the case with largemouth bass.

6. Other Differences

  • Largemouth bass tends to be larger when compared to spotted bass.
  • When hooked, largemouth bass will typically try to jump as well as reach the top. They will do their best to break free. On the other hand, spotted bass will immediately dive deep into the water, exhibiting behavior that is typical for a smallmouth. To catch the smallmouth bass, you can use a specifically designed smallmouth bass lure.
  • Schooling is more typical for spotted bass than largemouth bass. Largemouth bass tends to be more solitary in their behavior, so you can use largemouth bass lures to catch them.
  • The spotted bass is generally linked to structure. In contrast, largemouth bass is primarily related to cover.
  • When it comes to coloration, spotted bass has a greater variety in coloration. But, bear in mind there are some exceptions.
  • Largemouth bass lives longer, with a life span of approximately 16 years. On the other hand, spotted bass lives much shorter, having a life span of only 6 years.

Catching Largemouth Bass vs Spotted Bass

Both species can be caught with various lures and baits. But, there is one rule of thumb that seems to be working the majority of the time. If your lures and baits are longer, it means they will work better for catching Largemouth. On the other hand, if you want to catch Spotted Bass, you should opt for shorter baits and lures.

Fishing for both types of bass is very exciting. They fight using a lot of strength, so they will do a good job testing your fishing skills. Since they are neighbors, you won’t have to choose between them, so you are very likely to catch both kinds during one fishing session.

Responsible Catching

  • When doing catch and release, you need to make sure you are doing it properly. It is crucial not to exhaust the fish, so be gentle and pay attention to the behavior of the fish. If you’re having doubts, you can also read our guide on how to hold and handle a bass.
  • Always make sure you are using the correct weight tackle.
  • In case your fish is gut hooked, you need to cut the line very close to the fishing hook as well as leave it inside the fish.
  • You can use fishing gloves or your bare hands when handling the fish. Make sure you do not overdo it so their mucus layer stays protected.
  • When bringing the fish to your kayak or boat, you should pay attention not to damage its fins, scales, eyes, or gills. That is why you should use a soft landing net made of rubber when handling the fish. There’s also a knotted net option, but rubber is much better in this case since it is much gentler on its body.
  • Use a dehooker to achieve a gentle and quick release. Utilizing such a device will make it easy to quickly release the fish and will prevent any damage from the hook.
  • Using a lip gripper together with an integrated scale can help you with weighing the fish. This is a much better option than hooking the gills of the fish since you can return it to the water in no time.



Q: How Do You Identify a Largemouth Bass Spotted Bass and Smallmouth Bass?


Largemouth bass typically have longer jaws which extend past the eye, a notch separating the dorsal fin and horizontal lines along the body. On the other hand, smallmouth bass generally have their jaws at the same level as the eye, connected dorsal fin, and vertical lines along the body. However, these differences can be quite difficult to spot in some cases.

Q: How Big Does a Spotted Bass Get?


Spotted bass usually grow a bit slower than largemouth bass. In addition, they do not grow as large. A spotted bass is typically 4-8 inches long after one to two years of its life. It can grow to up to 18 inches in the first eight years. Adult spotted bass usually weight anywhere between 2 and 3 pounds.

Q: Where are Spotted Bass Found?


Spotted bass inhabit the freshwater area of the Gulf states, from the state of Texas to the state of Florida. In addition, they can be found throughout the lower and central Mississippi basin, as well as the Ohio basin. They have also been distributed through the mid-Atlantic states, as well as North Carolina and Virginia.

Globo Surf Overview

Next time you’re out fishing, chances are you will come across either spotted or largemouth bass. They are one of the most popular freshwater fish, so it can be very beneficial to learn how to identify them. There are some main differences you should pay attention to.

Start by gently examining the body of the fish. Largemouth bass typically has a longer jaw than the spotted bass. Largemouth bass has a smooth tongue, while the spotted bass typically has a small rough patch. If these differences are hard to spot, you can further inspect the stomach markers, scales, and dorsal fin. Make sure you always practice responsible catch and release to protect the fish.

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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!