Differences Between Largemouth Bass and Spotted Bass

There are several key differences between largemouth bass and spotted bass (also called Kentucky bass), but it can be very difficult to tell which one you have caught unless you know what to look for. You can’t identify the fish based on coloration, stripes, or spots because they can change drastically depending on the water they inhabit. We will break it down for you into a few easily identifiable features and the basic behaviors of each fish so you will know what you have caught next time you’re out fishing.

Jaw Length
 Largemouth Bass Jaw Past Eye

The upper corner of the mouth when closed does not extend past the rear of the eye on a spotted bass. It does extend past the eye on a largemouth.

Dorsal Fin

The spotted bass has a top dorsal fin that is clearly connected while the largemouth bass has a separate or almost separate dorsal fin.

Spotted Bass Rough Tongue Largemouth Bass Smooth Tongue

The spotted bass has a small rectangular rough patch in the center of the tongue. Largemouth bass have almost an entirely smooth tongue. It is hard to tell in the pictures so be sure not to confuse pigmentation with a smooth or coarse tongue.

Cheek Scales

The cheek scales on a spotted bass are much smaller than the rest of the scales on their body. The cheek scales on a largemouth bass are the same size as the rest of their scales.

Stomach Markers
Spotted Bass Stomach Lines 

Spotted bass have lines of spots along the stomach. Largemouth bass do not have these and generally just have a plain white stomach.

Behavior and Characteristics

  • Largemouth bass in general get bigger than spotted bass.
  • Largemouth bass tend to jump and rush to the top when hooked while spotted bass will dive deep and behave more like a smallmouth on the line.
  • Spotted bass tend to school more than largemouth bass.
  • Spotted bass primarily relate to structure while largemouth bass primarily relate to cover.
  • Spotted bass generally have better coloration, but there are exceptions.

Practice Responsible Catch and Release


Spotted Bass vs Largemouth Bass Quiz

This is a largemouth bass because the corner of the jaw extends past the eye. The top dorsal fins are also separate and there are no dots or lines on the stomach.