Shiners is the way to go right now. Couldent buy a bite on a crankbait.
Live bait is always a good back up plan. Haulin minnows can slow you down but they can also get you fish. Have seen it both ways. Some times it's their mood, they just won't chase, sometimes they may have been already fished and won't touch an artificial but won't hesitate to hit "real meat" When they won't hit the artificials but you get them on the minnows, your glad you brought them. When you get them on the artificials and you don't need or use the minows, it's seems like a waste of time and effort. A lot depends on how much time you have to fish and experiment and how much time you you have and how much moving around / ground you are going to cover. Fishing with live bait is usually slower to cover the same amount of water. It's usually about time management and accessibility. If your using a boat to fish from or get to your spots, it's easy & convient, I usually always have bait. If I have to travel far on foot and I hope to hit many spots, minnows usually get left behind. If I just plan to fish one spot or general area and plan to fish for a while and it's spring time, I usually bring minnows. The great thing about having live bait for an option is you learn so much more about fishing. You don't have to use the bait and an awful lot of the times fishing with artificials is more productive but it is amazing how many times You fish through a good spot, try everything and can't get a bite or only scratch one or two fish, then fish through the same water with the right live bait and catch a bunch of fish. With out the live bait you would not have even kwon there were fish there and biting. Or on a day when the river is crowded and every one of your favorite holes have been or are being pounded with every kind of artificial and picking off the aggressive fish you can follow right behind and get those neutral or spooked fish with the right live bait and in the spring, minnows are usually it. As far as them not biting recently on crank baits, I have fished almost every day on the river for the past two weeks and I have yet to be skunked using various small crank baits. Haven't been tearing them up but anywhere from 3 to 9 or 10 smallies, most from 10" to 14" with a few nicer fish thrown in, all on small crank baits - you just never know.