The name is derived from the fact that longear sunfish have an elongated opercle flap. This flap, always trimmed in white in adults, is unique and makes field identification relatively easy if hybridization has not occurred. Longear sunfish are quite colorful. Males are often bright orange or scarlet, and the head and fins usually have turquoise markings. Dorsal and anal fins, and their associated spines, are similar to those of redear sunfish.