Live minnows make a jig more productive

Threading a minnow on a jighead behind a soft-plastic bait gives your offering increased bulk and some flavor. (Photo by Terry Madewell)
Threading a minnow on a jighead behind a soft-plastic bait gives your offering increased bulk and some flavor. (Photo by Terry Madewell)

For all the discussion about crappie jigs, live minnows account for at least half of the fish caught. No discussion about jigs is complete without mentioning how and when to pair live minnows with jigs and soft plastics.

Some anglers will tip a jig with a minnow on almost every occasion and have success. It’s generally accepted that jigs are tipped with minnows when the bite is slow. It’s also good when water temperatures are less than 55 degrees, or in low-visibility conditions. And if you want to add scent to the jig, tipping it with a minnow is a good bet.

Tipping jigs with minnows sees more usage from the static group of crappie-fishing techniques. Trolling and casting tactics rely on impulse bites. Crappie see a soft-plastic bait on a jig, swimming through the water and instinctively eat it. Adding a minnow behind the soft-plastic bait on a jighead designed to provide swimming action in the water often inhibits the action of the bait and negates its usage.

Adding bulk

Soft plastics 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. This gives the angler more time to detect the strike and set the hook.

Hook the minnow through the lips so it will live longer on the hook.
Hook the minnow through the lips so it will live longer on the hook.

Don’t overlook a live minnow hooked on a naked jighead as a very deadly bait under the right conditions, either trolled or as a static bait.

Another aspect of tipping your jig with a minnow is that it adds bulk to your offering. Anglers who fish where white crappie are found understand that white crappie frequently prefer a mouthful of bait. But 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.

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Phillip Gentry
About Phillip Gentry 19 Articles
Phillip Gentry is a freelance outdoor writer and photographer who says that if it swims, walks, hops, flies or crawls he’s usually not too far behind.

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