From somewhere deep in my twisted mind is the best shirt design ever! It reads "it's okay to be a drifter... but nobody likes a creep."
It would have the "drifter" face of Tom Hanks from Castaway months, NO years after a haircut and beside, a close up of creepy Anthony Hopkins from Silence of the Lambs or that guy playing a banjo in Deliverance. People would probably conjure up images of drifting fish bums and creepy anglers a little too detached from society to be palatable. Well that's not what I mean here. I'm talking casting.
Creep is that thing that people standing behind you constantly remind you you're doing. Creep is that thing that you curse every time a big wide loop plunges itself on the water in front of you. Creep is a thing that can breed the nastiest tailing loops. Creep is that thing you see your buddy do when his cast violently ends with his rod tip in the water. Expletive expletive EXPLETIVE!!!
Creep is the result of beginning or moving toward the forward cast before the backcast has finished. It means "creeping" the rod forward over your head before the load behind you has developed. The issue with this is that the rod gets too far forward before you apply power. It causes people to compensate in two big ways. One you hammer the cast just to watch it all collide in a mess or tailing loop. The other thing is you lengthen your forward stroke to avoid tangles by drawing your rod tip down to the water making big wide loops. (Images below; videos at bottom)
Picture Left: Creep. Rod already 12 o'clock early. Note anchor just setting. Picture Center: Result of creep. Lengthen cast stroke by dropping rod to water. Wide loop. Picture Right: Result of creep. Short powerful stroke. Tailing loop. (Casting model Chris George demonstrating what it's like to be creeeeepy)
So how do we stop this?
Well I think the easiest tactic is to watch your backcast. Until you watch yourself prematurely drawing the rod tip to twelve o’clock it's quite hard to envision and even harder to break. Some people count time in the backcast, some have friends spot, some people learn to sloooooowwwww down and some just keep on doing it anyways. Another thing to try is drift. (images below; video at bottom)
Remember learning to single hand cast and thinking of stopping or unloading the rod at 10 and 2 o'clock? Well drift would be like stopping at 2 o'clock but then moving the entire clock to the right. After unloading the rod you simply drift the rod back on a horizontal plane and try to avoid dropping or raising the tip. Moving back this way lengthens your stroke. It allows time for that backcast to form and load to develop. Then fire away!
Pictures Above: Rod drifting back as d-loop forming. Helps to lengthen stroke.
Drift is one of those things you might never encounter for years of spey fishing and you may be a great caster anyways. But one trip to an event like Spey-o-rama watching two-hand heavyweights drift so far back they almost fall over starts to speak to the importance of the practice. As lines start to get longer you want a longer stroke so avoiding creep is crucial and drift is your ticket.
But what about short heads?
Well they say short line = short stroke so a lot of drift might lengthen your cast more than you need. But with skagit and scandi lines applying a little drift to your cast can stop your creeping problems dead. I find that when drifting back, even if just a smidge, it's impossible to creep forward. I know... it's groundbreaking stuff here! ... when you go back it's hard to go forward at same time!!! But give it a try. It works for me and I've seen it work for a lot of freinds and clients.
So go ahead, be drifty... just not creepy.
Picture above: Being Drifty