small mouth bass vs large mouth bass

Smallmouth Bass Vs Largemouth Bass [Ultimate Guide]

The most common bass species you will find in both saltwater and freshwaters are the largemouth and smallmouth bass. It is a coincidence that they both have many similarities. For beginners distinguishing them can be tricky at first.

Mind you there will also be expert anglers that will be confused by the two.

But luckily there are cutting edges the two differ in. let’s break them down into details to help you avoid confusion the next time you go fishing.

How to Tell Largemouth vs Smallmouth Bass? | Key Differences

Some key features can help you distinguish these two species. This ranges from body size, color, mouth size, etc.

Largemouth Bass

The largemouth is slightly heavier than the smallmouth. They can reach a weight of 15 pounds or more. A closer look at their mouth you will realize they are wider. That’s where their name comes from.

When you look at these species together you will see that the Largemouth bass will be longer.

If you see a bass that has a color ranging anywhere from olive to greyish green.

small mouth large mouth bass comparison

That is the largemouth bass. Then their sides are marked with black blotches. The dorsal fins of largemouth bass are separated.

Another feature you will note in the Largemouth is the mouth extends past the eye position.

Smallmouth Bass

The name says it all, they have a small mouth that unlike in the Largemouth bass does not extend past the eye position. Instead, the upper jaw extends up to the middle of the eye. They are typically brown or may dark black.

Their eyes are usually anywhere between red and brown. You can also spot a vertical dark brown band, on their body side.

Smallmouth bass has 11 to 13 soft rays on their dorsal fin. The fins look like one long dorsal fin, unlike in the Largemouth bass. Up to maturity they don’t grow long and have an average weight of 10 pounds.

How To Quickly Differentiate These Bass Species

There you have two bass species which from your research one is either Largemouth or the other smallmouth bass.

How will you differentiate the two? Here is how to proceed.

  1. Check the color of the fish and the eyes. If it has a dominant green color then it is possibly a Largemouth and if it is brown then it’s a Smallmouth bass.
  2. Have an issue with checking colors then check the mouth sizes. The one with a small mouth extending up to the middle of the eye will be the smallmouth then the Largemouth bass will have its mouth extending past the eyes,
  3. You can also decide to use the dorsal fin. Immediately you spot the fines are separated is will be the Largemouth and if the fins are somehow joined that will feature the Smallmouth.

Where to Find Largemouth Bass? | Spot Them Here

Before I answer the question on where to find the Largemouth bass. Let’s first see what the bass like to feed. Because where this feeds and prey are it is where they will mostly be.

They like feeding on insects, aquatic birds, baby ducks, and small bass & fish that comes their way.

Then they like to make ambushes and attacks on their prey. For that case, they will mostly be found in highly vegetative lakes where they can attack preys hiding under the aquatic weeds.

They also dwell in swampy areas, creeks, and rivers. Though not shallow rivers.

During the summer period the summer you will spot them in the deep waters. This not only keeps them cool but also assure the availability of food. In the winter period, you can spot them in shallow waters.

Largemouth bass can survive in both saltwater and freshwater. But this will depend on the food patterns, at the time.

Their simple rule for dwelling in a place is whether there is the availability of food.

small vs large mouth bass fishing

Where to Fish For Smallmouth Bass? | Find Them Here

When fishing for Smallmouth bass, the place to check is the shallow rocky areas. This is mainly in the freshwater lakes where there is an abundance of crayfish and insect nymphs which is their main diet.

Unlike the Largemouth bass, they dwell in clear waters. You can therefore easily spot them. But, this will mean you will have to hide so that they don’t spot you.

You will also see them in the cool streams and reservoirs with such water sources.

During the summer season, they will move towards the direction of the wind and also to the currents. This offers them cool water for efficient body metabolic. Such places will also favor them to get highly oxygenated air.

In most cases, you will rarely see them in saltwater lakes. You can also be able to fish them in large rivers. Finding them is not a tussle like it will take to lure them to bite the bait.

This is the place you will need to implement your matching the hatch sills.

When Is The Best Time To Fish For Largemouth Bass? | Time It Right

The recommended time to fish for bass is early in the morning a few minutes after sunrise. This is when they tend to be best at making ambush and attack on prey. The Largemouth bass is aggressive hunters and depends on light to see the prey. 

You should therefore ensure the time you are fishing there is some visible light penetrating the water. Note that they see clearly in low light conditions.

This also qualifies the late evening as a convenient time to fish them. This should be some minutes before and after sunset.

Even when they are not hungry you can spot them roaming around during the morning and evening hours. When the sun is bright they will submerge into deep water that can be difficult to fish.

When it’s cloudy like the winter, you can also fish them during the warm midday. Whenever an opportunity presents itself they will always attack after spotting the target.

This makes nights with the full moon a great time for a catch.

When To Fish For Smallmouth Bass? | Best Times

Smallmouth is the best tactical bass fish and to get them you will have to be sure with your timings. Predicting where they are at what time can be a challenge.

There are times you will get plenty for catch and there is time you will hardly get one.

This raises the question of when is the best time to fish for smallmouth bass? The time to fish is in the morning anytime from dawn up to 2 to 3 hours after sunrise.

When they are busy looking for food. You can also fish them some hours before the sunset.

Unlike the Largemouth bass, they can hunt in low lighting conditions. But will be sensitive to any little light during the odd hours. When fishing for smallmouth bass some baits will work in the morning whereas others will work in the evening.

When there are storms and it’s raining this general rule of fishing in the morning and evening can be altered.

You need to be keen on the season you are doing the fishing to avoid disappointments.

Largemouth vs Smallmouth fishing Tips

Though Largemouth bass fishing and smallmouth bass fishing have some differences. Almost the same techniques are used for more success. The difference comes in the choice of equipment and lures presentation.

But with these tips that I have personally used and seen other anglers using, you will be ahead to fish more.

I don’t want you to go out to try and error your baits, which will not work. You only need to have some tactics. Here are recommended tips for fishing each of these bass species.

Largemouth Bass Fishing Tips

Use Flipping and Pitching

As we discussed, the largemouth bass is mostly found in vegetative water. This is why you need to flip the line to attract their attention. This also helps the fishing hook to penetrate beneath the grass.

Large Jigs and Lures

Using big sized lures has is the remedy for all fishing conditions. Largemouth bass will make an ambush, only when they sense or see an enemy. Thus, using a large baitfish will attract their attention.

Cast Lures Close To The Bass

The Largemouth bass often ignores lures that are far. This is why you need to cast the lure closer to give the bass all reasons to take a bite. Throw the lure in front of them

Use Ragged Worms

The Largemouth can at times be lazy hunters. Such a time they like taking advantage of injured prey. This is why using ragged worms presents them an opportunity to attack.

Smallmouth Fishing Tips

Use Both Shallow and Deep Water Lures

The smallmouth bass can adjust their taste for baits easily. They will occasionally reach out to topwater plugs. But, in most cases, they reach out to lures beneath. This is why using both types of baits will yield more.

Avoid Using Heavy Lines

The smallmouth has great eyesight in all lighting conditions. Especially when the sun is overhead, they will see a heavy line much better. This can hinder them from coming in contact.

Vibrating Baits Can Work Wonders

Use the vibrating jigs to catch the attention of the bass. This will prompt the bass to bite quickly. But do not aver do it, if the bait is not working, change to another type.

Match The Hatch

This will work for both species. But because the smallmouth bass is the one easily affected by the environment. It will be good to match the baits to their natural habitat and food. This will confuse their intelligence.

Final Thoughts

Smallmouth and Largemouth bass fishing is one of the common fishing activities. These two bass species contrast in many ways. They can make a good meal for your lunch or dinner.

This is provided you get the techniques of fishing them right. Without which you will come back home empty-handed. This Ultimate Guide above will help you get amazing results.

Related Questions

Are smallmouth bass bigger than Largemouth bass?

No, the largemouth is slightly bigger than the Smallmouth bass. This is both in terms of weight and body size. While the smallmouth weighs about 12 pounds, the largemouth bass weighs anywhere from 15 pounds to 25 pounds.

What tastes better Largemouth or smallmouth bass?

While they two make a good and tasty meal, the smallmouth bass has a more likable and tasty flavor. This is owing to this sweet and clean taste compared to the Largemouth that is not as clean.

Are smallmouth bass good to eat?

Yes, very tasty. The smallmouth is very good to eat for any family member with no cases of fish allergy. The smallmouth meat tastes very good and can be paired with common food.

large vs small mouth bass best comparison

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