For all the discussion about crappie jigs, live minnows account for at least half of the fish caught by anglers. No discussion about jigs is complete without a discussion of how and when to pair live minnows with jigs.
Some anglers will tip any jig with a minnow on almost every occasion and find success. It’s generally accepted that jigs are tipped with minnows when the bite is slow, water temperatures are lower than 55 degrees, in low-visibility conditions or whenever it is desired to add scent to the jig.
Tipping with minnows sees more usage from the static group of crappie-fishing techniques. Trolling and casting tactics rely on impulse bites from crappie who see a jig swimming through the water and instinctively eat it. Adding a minnow behind a jig designed to provide swimming action in the water often inhibits the action of the bait and negates its usage.
Jigs designed with pulsating or breathing action are better choices for minnows. The bait contains color, static action, flash or vibration, especially if using an underspin, pony head jighead. The minnow adds a natural feel and smell to the bait often causing the fish to hold on to the jig longer, giving the angler more time to detect the strike and set the hook.
Don’t overlook a live minnow hooked on a naked jig head as a very deadly bait under the right conditions, either as a trolled or static bait.
Another aspect of tipping your jig with a minnow is that the bait adds bulk to your offering. Crappie anglers who fish where white crappie are found understand that white crappie frequently prefer a mouthful of bait, whereas too much mass may discourage black crappie.
Another trick to remember when tipping jigs with live minnows is to make sure to hook the minnow through the lips so it remains alive and active on the hook. Some anglers will hook the minnow so it rides upside down, increasing its struggles but decreasing its lifespan on the hook.