This crayfish is light brown to reddish brown with numerous black specks on the pincers and often on the abdomen as well. The pincers are broad and powerful. Two dark saddle marks cross the body: one near the back of the head, the other where the carapace joins the thorax. There is an hourglass-shaped area (areola) along the midline of the carapace.
Some common, superficially similar species within the range of this crayfish are the golden crayfish and the ringed crayfish. Both of these species lack conspicuous blackish specks on the pinchers and abdomen, and the ringed crayfish has prominent brown or black rings on the fingers near their tips. The very similar woodland crayfish, mostly found in the Black River system, is not known to occur in the same river drainages.