Creep !

Creep: Unintentional movement of the rod in the direction of the next Casting Stroke.
Creep is a persistent casting fault where the rod is unintentionally moved so the Casting Arc and/or Casting Stroke Length of that cast are reduced.*

we’ll notice the key word above ‘Unintentional’. many casters are unaware of this movement and this is a very common fault with casters of all levels.
exaggerated for the purpose of demonstration, here’s what it looks like.

on the last forward stroke (starting at 30′), instead of waiting for the loop to unroll the caster starts moving the rod forward while the line is still unrolling toward the back and the effective casting stroke itself as noted in the definition is greatly reduced.
another double-nasty effect of creeping is the line is no longer in proper tension and that feeling is transmitted instantly to the rod hand.
all this leads to the typical scenario where the caster tries to compensate for the lack of tension and normal stroke distance by overpowering (shocking) the forward stroke over a constrained distance, the rod tip dips and bounces back up abruptly and he gets a beautiful tailing loop !

however, if we intentionally click the link below, creep is a good thing.
fly casting is full of wonderful paradoxes, i guess that’s what makes it so interesting.

* from The Sexyloops Fly Casting Model
‘Extreme Creep’ casting video by Aitor Coteron

there are a few simple remedies to creep but before going into them, let’s see if you can find them on your own and add them in the comment section.
anyone wanna play ?

25 thoughts on “Creep !

    • yes, but 99,9% of FFers don’t get away with it so well. once diagnosed, it’s not something to let a student keep on doing, right ?

      • All the students that I have filmed and show creeping problems don’t make tailing loops. In fact I once put real pressure on one advanced student by telling him to creep and make a tail. He needed a lot of casts to get that result.
        What a difference when instructors show a taling loop due to creeping; they make “beautiful” tails… but they normally do more things than creeping only.

        And yes, it is a fault and should be corrected.

    • ok, Mister Picky ! :mrgreen: you’ll notice i didn’t mention that TLs where brought on by creep, i was simply reporting the wonderful TL you performed on the vid ! 😆

      Jon is interesting, before reading the comments i was thinking he was an expert caster who just waited to regain tension before continuing the stroke and lengthening it. he must be pretty darn good now !

      • As explained on the text accompanying the video Jon is a “false beginner”. That clip was shot before he had his first casting class, and he was actually creeping inadvertently.

        He must be one of those 0,1% of fly fishers you mentioned. 🙂

  1. I will leave the technical part of the discussion to the experts and hope that one of the remedies does not involve the student wearing one of those electric dog-training collars.

    To me, creep is useful as sort of a “head fake” to confuse the fish into thinking I may not actually be casting to him, but to another one.

  2. hey Ty,
    “Drift: To position the rod between casting strokes.
    Moving the rod to adjust Casting Arc, Stroke Length or Casting Plane. Drift applies little or no force on the line.”
    drifting’s the usual quick fix and it can work but is it a cure-all remedy for preventing creep and does it work for every cast ? not really.
    i’d much rather work on restructuring the core fundamentals by breaking down the cast to individual components and reassembling them one by one.

  3. Guess I would argue that drift is restructuring of core fundamentals. Drift prevents shortening of the casting arc/stroke caused by creep, improves timing of the pause between strokes, and facilitates proper application of power at the proper time. That’s three of the Five Essentials.

    Do you think there is a cure-all for preventing creep? I don’t think that there is, but drift comes pretty close.

  4. Ty,
    drift isn’t a fundamental and isn’t part of the Five, that’s my point.
    i’d agree with your list if it included ‘may’ as opposed to what seems like a definitive fact.

    “Unintentional movement” says it all for me in this context. if they don’t know they’re doing it, show them that they are (demonstrate and video) and show them how to be aware of it.
    don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with drift, i use it and teach it.
    it’s a valuable accessory.

  5. I imagine most anglers just buy a faster rod, shortening the time that creep can happen.. wouldn’t just teaching a young jedi to properly stop his rod completely in the appropriate locations cure this? put an old fenwick in his hands for a day, teach them how to “feel” a rod load into the but section, then mabe they could properly cast their “one” z-axis, rpl graphite 12 lighting rod…

    • hi Brad,
      ‘stopping’ (properly or not) and creeping are two different beasts but i see and agree with your point. i’m pretty sure you are correct as well as to the faster rod fad.
      along the same vein as Kreh’s quote about some people using the double haul to cast their casting mistakes farther, for some people, faster rods can help to fuck-up faster ! :mrgreen:

      • it obviously doesn’t Aitor. what i believe Brad is referring to is the media/marketing hype that faster rods make better casters…

  6. Hey Marc,

    Guess we’re just looking at this from different angles. I’m not saying that drift is a fundamental, just that it can impact them. I absolutely agree that you should show the student exactly what he/she is doing and how to be aware of it – but what then? Just tell them to be sure to hold the rod hand in place after the stop? Well, ok, that’s fine. But why not teach the drift? I just think that developing the muscle memory to drift after the stop is more effective than simply teaching someone to hold the rod hand steady during the pause after the stop. The intentional action of drifting eliminates the unintentional action of creep. Excellent discussion, by the way. Very interesting.

  7. yeah Ty, i’m groovin’ on this and really appreciate everyone’s participation !

    ok, here’s a few ideas on how i might help a creeper.
    once again, i have no problems with drifting and would definitely use it in a, as an example, guiding situation where the primary goal is get the client casting well enough to have a good and fun day’s fishing. it’s a matter of priorities and here casting tuition is secondary.

    if we turn the situation around to a full-on casting course, then i’d much prefer a long term fix and reserve drift for let’s say, it’s ‘original intention’: a powerless repositioning of the rod tip to adjust stroke length, casting arc and casting plane but first things first !
    (of course it all depends on what the person wants and how far they want to get involved in casting.)

    to answer your question, at this stage of their development, yes i’d try to get them to make a definite pause and hold the rod tip in one place while the loop is unrolling.
    why ? because i like the analogy to learning and studying music. once we’ve learned the foundations, even if they are a bit restrictive at first, we can then move on to controlled improvisation and customization or just basically adapting to the situation of the moment which are necessary elements for successful and enjoyable fishing.

    how ? feeling the cast can be considered a goal, however this will only happen through repetitive practice and through good practice, meaning that regardless of style, the student isn’t including bad training habits.

    i would start them off pantomiming the cast without a rod.
    i would then have them continue this with a bare rod. (no line)

    learning to look at what the line’s doing gives an instant understanding with no need for guessing and the next step would be to side cast left to right across the body instead of overhead front to back. this way they see what’s happening and they can react accordingly.
    one back cast and lay down, one front cast and lay down.
    when that looks good we add the two together to make a complete casting cycle.
    when that looks good we include false casting.
    when that looks good we tilt the casting plane up little by little till we get overhead.
    once combined with visual recognition this all builds up the ill-termed ‘muscle memory’.

    this usually works very well and takes just minutes to set them right 😀

    most of the above can be done by one’s self so it’s something they can take with them and practice later.


  8. Good stuff, Marc. Can’t argue with any of that. That’s pretty much my approach with students as well. But if the primary goal with a student is to eliminate creep, I definitely introduce the concept of drift. I think drifting is a more effective long term fix because it’s a deliberate, active movement away from creep. The student has to think about moving that rod hand up and/or back for the drift. I think learning to feel drift, the opposite of creep, gives the student a better overall understanding of the problem. That understanding leads to the ability to self-correct. Sounds like you and I overall have similar approaches to this kind of thing though.

    • yup ! as long as we can help one way or another is all that really matters after-all. 😀

      just curious, do you have any other tricks for dealing with creep you’d like to share ?

      • You’ve already touched on what I think is the most valuable tool or “trick” – the visual recognition. I really like to video the student. Seems like that light often goes on as they’re watching themselves cast. I’ll often pause the video and go right into pantomiming, asking the student to watch his/her hand. I’ll ask them to creep on purpose, then I’ll ask them to make the opposite movement – i.e. drift. We go back and forth like that so that they get a definite feel for the difference between the two movements.

  9. I learned to cast on my own, such as it is. I am not a teacher and I am a so-so student at best, but I wanted to come back and get in on this conversation.

    I thought a concentrating on a full stop at the end of the stroke would help but I can see how unintentional creep can creep back in. Sometimes I feel like I am anticipating the forward stroke, starting before I should and, as Marc mentioned, I end up compensating by over-powering and making a mess of my casts. When that happens, and everything starts to feel “off” I stop, back away from the fish, and go make myself practice making full stops AND watching my line behind me until the timing comes back and I can put the fish down properly.

    If you had hair, Marc, I’m sure you would pull it out if I were your student (or just triple your fee) but it’s nice to know my bad habits are not limited to liquor and cigarettes.

    Thanks for this post.

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