Tough to beat a plain white 2" Twister Tail on a 16th oz unpainted jig on the stained lake where I mainly fish for crappies.
Berkeley power bait honey worms in red on a size 8 Aberdeen drop shotting in 10-12 fow for gills. Last year for about 2 weeks in early July, you couldn't pry them off my rods. Out-fished everything, including red worms. Gulp 1" minnow was a close second. Picking up another jar before spring. These are a must have.
Having said that, I always bring red worms, because gills can get picky during high pressure cold fronts and will ignore plastics.
Tiny tube jigs with 1/100 oz lead
My go-tos are the Northland Impulse Slug Bug and Mini Smelt. Occasionally I'll use the Bloodworm Wedgie too.
I agree, I dont use live bait anymore unless my kids want to dig worms out of garden for fun. I even fish gulp under floats/bobbers on a plain hook and it works just as good.