Crappie vs. Bluegill: All You Need to Know
Jul 4, 2019 | 2 minute read Comments
Reading Time: 2 minutes

If you’ve ever been fishing on a lake or a reservoir, chances are you’ve caught Crappie and Bluegill at least once. These tasty Panfish are a family favorite and the first catch of many American anglers. But what’s the difference between them? This short guide is all about Crappie vs. Bluegill, from how to tell them apart to which tastes better.

How to Tell the Difference Between Crappie and Bluegill

A diagram showing how to identify Crappie vs Bluegill. The fish are shown on the right, with text on the left reading "1. Gill cover: Bluegill have blue gill covers. 2. Mouth: Crappie have larger mouths. 3. Body shape: Bluegill are more rounded. 4. Size: Crappie are larger and heavier."

The easiest way to recognize Bluegill is, well, their blue gills. They’ve got a signature blue patch on their gill covers which other Sunfish and Crappie don’t have. On top of that, Bluegill are more colorful than Crappie. They can be orange, green, blue, and more. Crappie are less colorful, with some rare exceptions.

There’s more setting these fish apart than color, though. There are some differences in basic shape and size. To begin with, Crappie have much larger mouths than Bluegill. Bluegill also have a more rounded shape, partly due to their small mouths and heads.

Beyond all that, Crappie grow to be a lot larger and heavier than Bluegill. Bluegill are normally around 6 inches long and rarely hit double digits. White and Black Crappie are slightly different, but even so, your average catch will be in the 9” range. Fish over 12 inches long show up from time to time.

Crappie vs. Bluegill Taste

Two whole fried Bluegill fish on a plate, with half a lime and some herbs and lettuce leaves scattered around it.

Both these fish are pretty. Both can be fun to catch. But let’s be honest, the reason people catch them is that they’re delicious. Most anglers agree that Bluegill taste slightly better. They have more fIavor and their flesh is firmer and flakier. Crappie, on the other hand, have a soft meat which some people find bland.

So why eat Crappie? For one thing, they’re bigger. This makes it much easier to get a proper fillet out of them. On top of that, they put up more of a fight, so people enjoy catching them for more than just their meat. Throw either fish in the fryer, though, and you’re in for a tasty treat. That’s why they’re called Panfish, after all.

Which one do you think tastes better, Crappie or Bluegill? Do you agree that Crappie are more fun to catch? Let us know your thoughts and recipes in the comments below!

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Comments (2)
  • aldeureaux

    Jun 25, 2019

    Bluegill put up a better fight IMHO, and crappie (or sacalait) tastes better. Both are among the best tasting freshwater fish though.

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      Jun 27, 2019

      Hi Aldeureaux,

      Thanks for the comment.

      I guess there’s no right or wrong answer – how the fish taste and behave probably depends on the waters you fish, and much more besides.

      The one thing we can all agree on is that Bluegill and Crappie are both fun to catch, and both delicious!

      Tight lines!

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