One of my favorite free-living caddis larva patterns comes from the vise of Colorado’s Luke Bever. Luke is an extraordinarily capable fisherman, tyer and guide and while we’re too good of friends for me to ever utter it to him in person; he really is one of those guys that just know exactly what flies to fish and where to fish them. His Better Buckskin came about after being disappointed in the conventional Buckskin pattern’s realism and the desire to build a better version. He’s not terribly creative when it comes to fly names, but the pattern itself is a winner. The original Buckskin pattern that has been around for years is basically a strip of tanned deer hide or chamois leather wrapped around a hook…sometimes with a simple black thread head, sometimes with a dubbed head and sometimes with a peacock herl head. I’ve even seen Buckskins tied with a tail, but I can’t fathom why. Luke took this basic chassis and dressed it up a bit to make it match up with the real thing a bit…better. Starting with a strip of pearl Mylar tinsel over the back of a twisted Ultra Suede body to add some flash, he then designed a more complicated yet lifelike head section that blends the fish catching power and iridescence of peacock herl with the realism of longer, flowing ostrich herl legs. Ribbed with copper wire for both durability and a bit of color, the end result is a pattern unlike the original and truly better in every way.