Largemouth vs. Smallmouth – What is the difference?

So, you are going out Fly Fishing for Bass – there are some differences between the Bass caught in Michigan and many other states. Two of the most common Bass are the Largemouth Bass – often called a Largie and the Smallmouth Bass – called the Smallie. 


As their name implies, the most distinct difference is the size of their mouth; a Largemouth’s mouth extends beyond its eye, and the Smallmouth does not. 


Another distinction is their coloring; a Smallie tends to be a brownish color, and the largemouth more of a greenish shade. The striped pattern is different between the two – the Largie has a stripe that is darker in color and runs horizontally from the eye to the tail. The Smallie has vertical running lines that are less prominent. 

One of the most important differences for an angler to know is where you catch them. Both are in rivers and lakes but like different conditions. Largies like slightly warmer water and are often found in ponds or lakes. If you can see aquatic vegetation, like lily pads, they will be hiding under it. A fly thrown on a lily pad then plopped into the water next to it will be sure to elicit a strike from the hiding largemouth. 


Smallmouth like a cooler, moving water and are most at home in a stream or river with a rocky bottom, borders, or ledges.


Temperature is essential; a largemouth will be found closer to shore, where the temperatures are around 80 to 90 degrees. A smallie will hang out in deeper, cooler water with temperatures of 78 to 88 degrees. 


Both are aggressive predators. When flyfishing, swing a wooly bugger or streamer for underwater action. For topwater, use a popper or my favorite white gurgler on topwater, and you will indeed receive a strong attack of your fly. They are my favorite warm water species to target due to their aggressive takes and intense fight. 



Bass – Warm Weather Species

 The warmer weather is brutal on our cold water streams in Michigan. As the weather warms, so do our rivers – taking a toll on our resident trout. For survival, they slow down and attempt to find cold deeper water. A safe bet for our catch and release is to turn our attention to the furious Bass, a warm water species that can bring a thrill to Fly Fishing with their hard bites and wild flipping to throw the hook. An easy fish to target and a lot of fun.  In the next couple of weeks, I will be sharing the basic information on fly fishing for Bass – so get ready o to have a lot of fun targeting this species.  

It’s Cold Out There – Fly Tying the Gurgler

   Michigan remains cold, freezing temps, snow, ice storms we have had it all!  Rivers are running high – the Rogue River is at stage six, and with snow melts will probably enter into flood stages. So,  it is still in the dreaming stage for fly fishing – it is an excellent time for educational events or tying flies.  I spent the last few days doing just that.  “52 Months on the Muskegon River” presented by Kevin Feenstra was one of the events I attended. It turned out to be an impressive presentation – I highly recommend it. This presentation included Kevin’s photography of life on the river, along with great information on flies to use for the various seasons.  My time is also spent at my vise – Long days have been spent filling my fly box – streamers for spring, summer and fall, wet skunks, stoneflies and several of my favorite Bass or warm water gurgler flies.
One of several Bass caught on a White Gurgler
My Favorite Warm Water Fly

How to Make a Gurgler

Some Gurgler Action