A Butterfly Trade on a Butterfly Pattern


J.W. Jones Image J.W. Jones Chief Options Strategist, Technical Traders, Ltd.

Options trader JW Jones of Options Trading Signals breaks down the details of a high-probability trade that he recently constructed.

Entomologists tell us that a group of butterflies can, at the choice of the writer, be termed a lek, a rabble, or a swarm. I was struck by the bearish Fibonacci based technical chart pattern initially described by Larry Pesavento, termed a ‘bearish butterfly’, which had completed in heavy engine manufacturer Cummins Incorporated (CMI).

As improbable as it might be, I was pleased to find that a high-probability option trading structure that could be used to trade it, the put butterfly. I thought it would be interesting to examine this for educational value.

First, let’s look at the chart pattern. The price pattern termed a butterfly is a high-probability reversal pattern that can occur in both bullish and bearish configurations. It is a variant of a two-step pattern and also a variant of a more commonly known Fibonacci pattern, the Gartley.

The essential elements of the pattern are an initial impulsive thrust (classically termed the X:A leg), a reversal of 0.618 to 1.00 of the initial thrust (the A:B leg), a second thrust in the direction of the initial leg (the B:C leg), and the final reversal thrust opposite in direction from the initial X:A leg extending from 1.272 to 1.618 of the initial leg.

Verbal descriptions are confusing, but consider the characteristic visual pattern, which is easily recognized once the trader is familiar with the pattern.

Fibonacci Bearish Butterfly Pattern

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The pattern completed December 13 as indicated on the graph, and the bearish candle the week of December 20 constituted a trigger for the trade.