Crappie vs. Bluegill: All You Need to Know
Apr 21, 2021 | 2 minute read Comments
22
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. They come in black or white, but are mainly greenish most of the time.

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!

Comments (22)
  • Ken Beam

    Nov 15, 2020

    Real nice post. Definitely dig catchin` both `gills & crappies – And heck, I love to dine on either occasionally. How about posting up a few recipes for both?

    Thanks!

    Ken Beam

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      Albert

      Nov 16, 2020

      Hi Ken,

      Thanks for getting in touch. I’m glad you liked the article.

      Personally, I love frying them up cajun-style. Would definitely love to hear some recipes, though.

      Any chefs out there that can give some suggestions?

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  • Joe KC

    Jun 18, 2020

    God keeps bluegill smaller because if they grew the size of bass a man couldn’t land them.

    They can fight with the best of them. In boxing they call that punching above your weight class

    Go get some fish

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  • GotGetReel

    Jun 9, 2020

    I grew up in Michigan and started fishing with my dad when I was three. I loved it and it was the best daddy / daughter day.

    His rule was Crappie is a winter fish for eating, much better to eat when caught in cold water. Summer Crappie are fun to catch, but put them back for winter. He said flesh is too soft in the summer for eating. We’ve enjoyed some great winter Crappie fish frys.

    Bluegill is a great fight and a very tasty fish! Sometimes you’d swear you had something bigger on the hook.

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      Albert

      Jun 9, 2020

      Hi there,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      I’ve never really thought about fish tasting different in summer and winter, other than species like Salmon that stock up on fat before spawning.

      Certainly food for thought.

      Tight lines!

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      Ron

      Apr 25, 2021

      UP fishing!

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  • Carson lok

    May 26, 2020

    they both are fun to catch but after a while of catching bluegill it gets boring. then you just want to catch something different like a bass.

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      Albert

      May 27, 2020

      Hi Carson,

      Thanks for the comment.

      Variety is the spice of life, as they say.

      I guess there are worse things in life than having to switch to Bass because you caught so many Bluegill, though!

      Tight lines!

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  • William Watts

    May 23, 2020

    I have been fishing nearly 50 years. If I am being honest the taste of all panfish pre-seasoned from fishing the same waters taste the same. The taste will vary depending on the location and contaminates in the water supply. Your prep and seasoning skills will change the taste, as will your soaking solution. The main point here that taste is mainly all up to the cook. Nothing taste better than knowing you fought the battle and won and you will be reaping your reward.

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      Albert

      May 25, 2020

      Hi William,

      Very well said! There’s no tastier meal than the one you worked for.

      All the best!

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      David Gould

      Mar 9, 2021

      I agree with you William,to a pointI believe crappie have asweeter taste no matter the waters they came from.

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  • bluegill is firmer and it stays on the bone better. However both fish are good eating and fun to catch.

    Apr 16, 2020

    IMO Bluegill fight better and they also taste better. The meat on is firmer and stays on the bone better. However both taste good and both are fun to catch.

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      Jerry Kearbey

      May 4, 2020

      Although crappie are so much fun to catch. bluegill are ferocious fighters. They both taste great, but bluegill has an edge in the flavor department. I’m from Missouri and have been shown many times.

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  • Jake Mitchell

    Apr 13, 2020

    Well, we all have our opinions, and I won’t argue with a man’s experience, BUT…I’ve been catching bluegill and crappie for almost 50 years, and I’ll humbly suggest that you got it backwards: Most anglers consider crappie the better fish to eat. In fact, in my world – nw Mississippi – crappie is the most sought after fish of all for its flavor. And as far as putting up a better fight – the unassuming bluegill is a legend! It’s stronger than a crappie with much more attitude! There’s been a joke between me and my dad for decades that if a bluegill grew to 10 lbs you’d never get him in the boat! JMO. Thanks for the article.

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      Albert

      Apr 14, 2020

      Hi Jake,

      Thanks for getting in touch. I’m glad you liked the article.

      I guess it really comes down to personal preference. There’s a lot to love about both fish, that’s for sure!

      Tight lines!

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  • 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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      Albert

      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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      Zac

      Nov 22, 2019

      Sack of milk. You must be from Louisiana. I am and love me some sacalait. I am in Arkansas and they call them crappie. Now why would a person call such a good fish crappy?

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      Bob

      Jan 27, 2020

      The comment above was IMHO. What does that stand for
      Thanks

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      Albert

      Jan 28, 2020

      Hi Bob,

      IMHO stands for “in my honest opinion.”

      All the best!

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      James

      Aug 22, 2020

      Humble, not honest.

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      Albert

      Aug 25, 2020

      Hi James,

      Apparently, it can mean both. You learn something every day!

      All the best!

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