no jives can be super frustrating, no doubt. but if you’re scientific about it, you can come to understand it. there are only so many things you can adjust.
string tension - like everyone suggested, this is #1. remember also that you can actually adjust the tension close to the gap to make a bigger difference on response but not cause the string to kink up too much all over.
string type - cotton will start up pretty loose if you don’t set #1 diligently from the start. once it gets used to the axle though, that loose feeling typically goes away. don’t use type 6 string with a no jive. it’s too thin. type 8 50/50 also works well, and is often quicker to break in than cotton. poly can actually be the MOST responsive (esp stuff like fat kitty) but it wears quickly and has a shorter window of best use.
response - no jives don’t need response, but a sticker can help make it more consistent and less frustrating. i use DEAD duncan stickers from the mid-2000’s (i scrape all of the tacky stuff off, leaving only the linen) or tom kuhn turbo discs, which don’t need to be pre-scratched. it’s not really overkill. tk discs have more of an effect than duncans, just because their inner diameter is smaller and the friction happens closer to the axle. they also wear more quickly. unfortunately, that type of duncan sticker is getting pretty had to find. i see almost no increased snag from these stickers during string tricks; it just gives me a tighter wind. it’s most useful when shimming for a slightly wider gap, but i’ve used it in a few stock no jive setups too. i’ve never had a no jive where it was a necessity, but i’ve had several where it made things more convenient.
gap - again, i’ve never had a no jive that wouldn’t play properly without a gap adjustment, but who knows? can you fit two pennies into the gap side by side together all the way down to the axle? if so, that’s on the wide side. you can reduce the gap by sanding down one or both sides of the axle, but obviously that can’t be reversed once you’ve done it, except by adding shims. i’ve never preferred the use of wax either on axles or strings, but some guys swear by it.
if you try all that stuff and it’s still ticking you off, send it to me. i’ll set it up the way i’d set it up for myself and mail it right back to you. i’ve never met a no jive i couldn’t convince into behaving. at the same time, a no jive is a different beast than an unresponsive metal, and a big part of playing wood is learning how to get your stuff dialed in.