Video observation has shown that feeding-current-producing calanoid copepods modulate their feeding currents by displaying a sequence of different swimming behaviours during a time period of up to tens of seconds. In order to understand the feeding-current modulation process, we numerically modelled the steady feeding currents for different modes of observed copepod motion behaviours (i.e. free sinking, partial sinking, hovering, vertical swimming upward and horizontal swimming backward or forward). Based on observational data, we also reproduced numerically a modulated feeding current associated with an unsteadily swimming copepod. We found that: (i) by changing its propulsive force, a copepod can switch between different swimming behaviours, leading to completely different flow-field patterns in self-generated surrounding flow; (ii) by exerting a time-varying propulsive force, a copepod can modulate temporally the basic flow modes to create an unsteady feeding current which manipulates precisely the trajectories of entrained food particles over a long time period; (iii) the modulation process may be energetically more efficient than exerting a constant propulsive force onto water to create a constant feeding current of a wider entrainment range. A probable reason is that the modulated unsteady flow entrains those water parcels containing food particles and leaves behind those without valuable food in them.