As far as popping on a jump it really depends on the jump. In general, yea you should always pop just a little. On rails it's simple just pop on from either front side or backside and whip your board around onto the feature. Make sure your weight is centered over the jib and ride it out. For features where you can go on straight it's much easier. Just pop from straight on. Then try from the sides in order to take it to bigger shit.
Im all for having fun, showing your tits and getting fucked up on a river float but it can be done without being a pig.