Not always, I've had my best crappie days with just a small jig and skirt. I like to slip bobber with a micro jig at the approximate depth they are feeding (a lot of adjustments will eventually find you the correct depth) and slowly work it back. I only use live bait in certain situations.
I like to carry two light rods with me! One is float and minnow while I cast a small jig! I would start to fish at northwest section of small lake and its warm up water! Move slow around until I get school of crappies. They might be open water or close to fallen tree or any woods! Keep move around slowly until you find crappe also some bonus bass and nice bluegills, too!