Rock Bass vs Crappie (Differences between Rock Bass and Crappie Fish)

Rock Bass vs Crappie
Rock Bass vs Crappie

Rock Bass vs Crappie

Both rock bass and crappie are similar in several ways, yet different in others. Understanding what makes them similar and different will help you in determining what to take and where to locate them when on your fishing trip.

Of the two different species of crappie, it is the black crappie that is arguably the most similar to the rock bass and often they get compared because of the similar way in which they live along with their appearance.

Rock Bass

Sometimes called the rock perch, the rock bass is a fresh-water fish that is mostly found in the central to the eastern US, particularly in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River, although it can be found in most of the country. This fish sports red eyes and is part of the sunfish family and on the surface appears similar to smallmouth bass.

Rock bass typically has six spines along the dorsal fin, bright red eyes, and an olive to golden brown coloring along the sides. The mouth of the rock bass is somewhat compact and features sharp teeth as it preys mostly on smaller fish in a similar fashion to the smallmouth bass.

Black Crappie

This fish reaches four to eight inches in length and will usually weigh up to four pounds, although the world record is five. You’ll find most black crappie across the eastern US and in Canada, although they are spread across the United States and have recently been introduced to Mexico and even Panama.

A typical black crappie will have seven to eight spines along its dorsal fin which runs along its deep, laterally compressed body. Most black crappies are green to silver-gray in color and have black spots or splotches which gives the fish its name. The spots run along the caudal, anal, and dorsal fins. Plus, crappies tend to have large mouths that extend to just below the eye along with thin lips.


You’ll find both fish living in similar conditions, usually in a rocky area in the rivers and streams. This is because both fish have similar eating habits to other, similar fish such as sunfish. The food that both fish consume usually includes smaller fishes, crayfish, and aquatic insects that populate the area.

The fish have similar nesting habits, usually being separated from the rest in the mud or rocky areas where they hunt for food. In addition, similar lures or bait is used to catch either fish as they both have similar eating habits.


The biggest difference is the average size of each fish with the black crappie being considerably larger. While it is rare for a rock bass to weigh over a pound, the black crappie easily weighs two to three pounds more on average. The most obvious visual difference apart from the size is the red eyes of the rock bass that are highlighted across its golden brown to an olive-colored body.

Although similar in some ways, the differences between rock bass and black crappie are considerable as it is easy to tell them apart.

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