Sculpins have flattened bodies, large mouths, and enlarged pectoral fins. They can modify their color to match their background. They have large heads that taper abruptly into the rather slender body. They lack scales but often have small prickles on head and body. This species is reddish brown, without strong mottling, but with well-defined dark bars across back and sides. There is a broad, distinct vertical bar at the base of the tail fin (the Ozark and mottled sculpins don't have this bar).