SteadyOptions is an options trading forum where you can find solutions from top options traders. TRY IT FREE!

We’ve all been there… researching options strategies and unable to find the answers we’re looking for. SteadyOptions has your solution.

4 Low Risk Butterfly Trades For Any Market


The other day I was having a conversation with an options blogger and he asked me how I traded. When I told him that my primary trade is the Butterfly option spread, he was surprised and said I was one of the first people he met who regularly traded Butterflies. In a world where Iron Condors get all the love, it wasn't the first time I had that conversation.

I've traded a wide range of options strategies, but, for a number of reasons, the Butterfly is my preferred trade.

 

The Butterfly option spread is possibly one of the least understood and least utilized options income strategies. Butterflies can be used to construct high probability positions with a profit range similar to and potentially larger than an Iron Condor with less risk. Alternatively, a short dated Butterfly can provide a great risk/reward ratio when traded slightly out of the money. Perhaps my favorite characteristic of the Butterfly is that the position can make money prior to expiration even if price trades outside of the expiration break even points. 

 

In this post we'll take a look at four different Butterflies with very different trading characteristics.

 

1. At The Money (ATM) Butterfly

 

The ATM Butterfly is the common Butterfly spread that most options traders think about. The position is placed at the money with anywhere from 7 to 50 days to expiration depending on your strategy. The ATM Butterfly is a short delta trade and can be managed by rolling the initial position up or down or adding additional Butterflies when price trades outside of the expiration break even points. The ATM Butterfly is what most traders think of when they think of the Butterfly.

 

The Butterfly pictured below is an an ATM Iron Butterfly in the Russell 200 (RUT) with 50 point wings and slightly under 30 days to expiration. The biggest challenge with the position is that it leans short delta and will take heat if the market rallies immediately after the trade is entered.

 

70c34506f1b021bd675a648829baad0f.png

 

2. Directional Butterfly

 

The Directional Butterfly is a balanced butterfly option spread that is positioned slightly out of the money and works like a lottery ticket. Essentially you position the Butterfly above or below the market and want price to trade towards the short strike. Directional Butterflies can be purchased cheaply, which makes the risk/reward ratio very favorable. In the image below, the Russell 2000 (RUT) closed around 1130 and the image shows the 1130/1150/1170 Call Butterfly with around 30 days to expiration. The Butterfly cost is $190 with a maximum payout of around $1,800. However, risk reward isn't even the best part of the trade.

 

One of the great characteristics of the Directional Butterfly is that the profit/loss line will rise outside of the body of the Butterfly prior to expiration. What that means is that, prior to expiration, the range of potential profit is wider than the expiration break even lines would suggest. In the image below the T+Zero line has been advanced two weeks so we're really looking at the T+14 line. What's important to point out is that the range of profit at T+14 is from 1080 to 1175, which is almost 100 points (around an 8% range) and significantly wider than the body of the Butterfly would suggest.

 

eec25cc45cc1156443fe2a115e2dcfa1.png

 

3. Broken Wing Butterfly (BWB)

 

The BWB is positioned slightly away from the money with unbalanced wings. The trade is usually initiated for a credit and has trading characteristics similar to an out of the money vertical spread. Since Butterflies are made up of two vertical spreads, that doesn't come as a surprise.

 

The broken wing Butterfly pictured below is the RUT 1190/1200/1220 Call Butterfly with 28 DTE that could have been opened for a credit of around .80. At the time of writing, the short strikes at 1200 were around 15 delta. The position is short delta and benefits directionally if price falls, but the T+Zero line will rise up near the body of the Butterfly as the trade approaches expiration.

 

8fe608a7837a4258dc312695112436ba.png

 

4. Consistent Income Butterfly (CIB)

 

The Consistent Income Butterfly is my primary trade. The CIB is the combines a Butterfly that is positioned slightly below the money with a long call. The position is constructed with 50 point wings in the Russell 2000 (RUT) and uses a ratio of one Butterfly to one IWM call. On the upside, the position is adjusted by adding up to two additional Butterflies and calls and on the downside the trade is simply rolled down.

 

The philosophy behind the CIB is to keep trade size small on the downside when we expect increased volatility in the markets. On the upside, we add to the position and wait for the bullish trend to rest or pull back. When the trade is started, the position has a very flat T+zero line with the goal of taking on as little directional risk as possible.

 

The image below shows the October 2015 position that is currently open and discussed every weekend. Notice that there is very little directional risk in the trade and a flat T+Zero line when the trade is entered.

 

150d1c501d3d31a9c3f9ea26a4fc8153.png

 

Now what?

 

One of the big challenges with trading any options strategy is coming up with a set of rules for the strategy. All of the trade ideas above provide a starting point for designing an income strategy. One of the reasons the Butterfly provides a great starting point for an income strategy is that the positions have much wider break evens than you might expect. This post discusses how a Butterfly can be constructed to have a range of profit almost as wide as a high probability Iron Condor.

 

Even though the positions above seem forgiving, it's essential to have a trading plan before placing any trade. Trading well always means making positive expectancy decisions.

 

This article is presented by Dan, founder of Theta Trend, a site focused on simple, objective options trading with an awareness of trend.

What Is SteadyOptions?

Full Trading Plan

Complete Portfolio Approach

Diversified Options Strategies

Exclusive Community Forum

Steady And Consistent Gains

High Quality Education

Risk Management, Portfolio Size

Performance based on real fills

Try It Free

Non-directional Options Strategies

10-15 trade Ideas Per Month

Targets 5-7% Monthly Net Return

Visit our Education Center

Recent Articles

Articles

  • Great reversal signal – 50 MA with 8 EMA

    Options traders continually seek the elusive “sure thing” reversal signal. Of course, there is no such thing. But there are ways to use combined signals to identify likely reversal points. Add in strong confirming signals, and you have a reliable system for entering and exiting options trades.

    By Michael C. Thomsett,

    • 0 comments
    • 171 views
  • Why Bother with Annualized Return?

    Most options traders realize that annualizing returns does not reflect what you can expect to earn consistently. It is, however, a way to make relevant comparisons between outcomes of different holding periods.The first big question is, What is the basis for calculating a net return?

    By Michael C. Thomsett,

    • 0 comments
    • 1,323 views
  • Is 5% a Good Return For Options Trades?

    I'm often asked if 5% is a good return for an options trade. The answer is: it depends. One of the myths of options trading is that you should aim for at least 100% gain in each option trade, otherwise it is not worth the risk. Is it really the case?

    By Kim,

    • 0 comments
    • 399 views
  • How to Trade Volatility

    When trading options, one of the hardest concepts for beginner traders to learn is volatility, and specifically HOW TO TRADE VOLATILITY. After receiving numerous emails from people regarding this topic, I wanted to take an in depth look at option volatility.

    By GavinMcMaster,

    • 0 comments
    • 1,511 views
  • The Real Meaning of the Efficient Market Hypothesis (EMH)

    Most traders have heard of the efficient market hypothesis (EMH) and most believe they know what it means. In a nutshell, it is a belief that the market is “efficient” and that the current price of shares is a reflection of efficiency. Right? Wrong.

    By Michael C. Thomsett,

    • 0 comments
    • 994 views
  • Put Permanent Portfolio

    Harry Browne popularized the concept of the "Permanent Portfolio" decades ago by recommending an asset allocation of 25% stocks, 25% bonds, 25% gold, and 25% cash. In the 90's, the concept of "risk parity" also became popular with writings by Cliff Asness of AQR Capital.

    By Jesse,

    • 0 comments
    • 1,511 views
  • Does HFT Harm Individual Investors?

    What is the overall impact of High Frequency Trading (HFT)? Some traders believe that the use of algorithms in super-fast and powerful computers allows large hedge funds and other institutions to beat the market, implying that because these big traders can out-perform individuals, profits are unfairly gained. But is it true?

    By Michael C. Thomsett,

    • 0 comments
    • 1,393 views
  • Defining the Anchor Strategy

    Lorintine Capital and Steady Options have been trading the Anchor strategy for a number of years. During this time Anchor has evolved as we have learned more, in no short part due to the Steady Option’s members continuing questioning of the strategy, insights they provide, and a large group of individuals seeking to improve the strategy’s efficiency. 

    By cwelsh,

    • 0 comments
    • 784 views
  • The Life Of An Options Contract

    You may be asking yourself why am I reading this basic article about options trading? Well, if you’re anything like me, I didn’t learn options trading via the fundamentals.  Rather, I found a few strategies that made sense to me and started trading, without much regard to the underlying workings and details.

    By Drew Hilleshiem,

    • 1 comment
    • 2,902 views
  • Volatility Trends in the DJIA

    Options traders focus, often too much, on implied volatility to estimate the next change in option valuation. Is this always a wise policy? Options are derived from volatility in the underlying security (thus the term derivatives), a good question is: Why not focus on volatility trends in the underlying (historical volatility) to judge likely future valuation trends in options?

    By Michael C. Thomsett,

    • 0 comments
    • 1,672 views

  Report Article

We want to hear from you!


There are no comments to display.



Your content will need to be approved by a moderator

Guest
You are commenting as a guest. If you have an account, please sign in.
Add a comment...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoticons maximum are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

Options Trading Blogs