A rather large, deep-bodied minnow with large, silvery scales on sides. Back is olive-green with a broad dark stripe along the midline. Dusky pigment is found on the chin.
Often hybridizes with bleeding, duskystripe and rosyface shiners since all share the spawning nests of the hornyhead chub. Closely related to the common shiner that is similar in appearance and ecology but has a more northern distribution.