How To Set Up A Broken Wing Butterfly Option Strategy?

broken wing butterfly

A lot of members have asked me about broken wing butterfly option strategies in the past, so I thought I’d create a blog dedicated to exactly how you would set up this kind of spread and why you would want to.

Oddly enough, the broken wing butterfly isn’t a new strategy and has been around for years. Recently though, the butterfly has been gaining attraction for the simple fact that you can enter them without any investment or even at a credit – if you follow the plan below.

So, if you’re dying to know more about this lopsided creature then read on my friend!

The Original Butterfly Spread

It’s only right to start at the beginning by looking at a more typical butterfly spread to make sure you understand that first. The butterfly spread is created by selling two at-the-money calls and then, at the same time, buying one out-of-the-money call and one in-the-money call.

This creates that famous peaked profit/loss diagram which looks like a butterfly, hence the name! The goal with these is to capture a huge return should the underlying stock not move much between now and expiration. Of course, this is rarely the case but if you can pinpoint the closing price you will end up with a strong profit.

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Evolution Of The Broken Wing Butterfly (BWB)

I guess you could say that the broken wing butterfly (BWB) was the next evolutionary step in the trading environment because a typical butterfly comes with two distinct drawbacks – you have to enter it with a debit from your account, and it requires little movement in the underlying to make money.

Butterflies were not very trader friendly in nature, so traders started to play around with strikes and numbers of contracts, and the BWB was born.


How Do I Set Up A Broken Wing Butterfly?

Just like the original butterfly, with a BWB you are going to sell two at-the-money calls and buy one in-the-money call. However, this time you are going to SKIP over the next out-of-the-money call strike and move up one extra level.

This creates spacing between the at-the-money call and the out-the-money call allowing you can capture more premium.

  1. Buy one In-The-Money Call
  2. Sell two At-The-Money Calls
  3. Skip a Strike
  4. Buy one Out-Of-The-Money Call

By capturing a higher premium from the sale of the calls, you can essentially enter the trade for either a slight debt or better yet, a credit to your account. How’s that for a more creative strategy? With the additional upside potential, you have to remember that you are also acquiring extra risk.

What’s The Goal With A Broken Wing Butterfly?

If you establish the trade for either a credit or slight debit the goal, of course, would be for the stock to close around the ATM strike or below, by the time of expiration.

The ability for the stock to fall at the same time and still make money is the single unique feature offered by the broken wing butterfly. A traditional butterfly would show a significant loss should the stock fall, before expiration. Now the stock can remain neutral and fall, and you still make money. Again the trade-off being the bigger loss on the upper end should the stock rally violently.

So How Do I Begin?

Like anything else you learn about in options trading, you should always start by paper trading the strategy first for a couple of months before you put real money to work. Test this out on your preferred broker’s platform and have fun with it.

My goal as always is to introduce and help explain these strategies so that it’s easier for you to put them to work and finally start making some money trading.

How Can I Find Out More About Broken Butterfly Strategies?

If you have enjoyed this blog and you’d like to understand more about BWB strategies or look at them in a bit more depth before you attempt to start out paper trading them, then why not have a look at some of our free educational resources which focus on this particular strategy.

  1. Watch our free videos to find out more about setting up these trades:

Trading a call broken wing butterfly

This video takes you step by step through the process to create a call BWB spread. It demonstrates how to create the broken wing by taking a traditional butterfly spread above the market and skipping one strike to create an unbalanced spread. The video will talk you through how these strategies are typically done for a net credit with the goal of having no risk to the downside should the stock keep falling. Skipping a strike allows you do to this because you buy a further OTM call option at a lower price which reduces the overall cost of the strategy.

Setting up a put broken wing butterfly

This second video looks at creating a put BWB spread which is an advanced strategy where you take a traditional butterfly spread below the market and skip one strike to create an unbalanced spread. The video will talk you through how these strategies are typically done for a net credit with the goal of having no risk to the upside. Skipping a strike allows you do to this because you buy a further OTM put option at a lower price which reduces the overall cost of the strategy.

  1. Read some of the answers in our Answer Vault

You will find answers in here to all sorts of questions other people have asked specifically on broken wing butterfly strategies.

As always, add your comments below with any insights into how you’ve traded these broken wing butterflies for better or worse.

About The Author

Kirk Du Plessis

Kirk founded Option Alpha in early 2007 and currently serves as the Head Trader. In 2018, Option Alpha hit the Inc. 500 list at #215 as one of the fastest growing private companies in the US. Formerly an Investment Banker in the Mergers and Acquisitions Group for Deutsche Bank in New York and REIT Analyst for BB&T Capital Markets in Washington D.C., he's a Full-time Options Trader and Real Estate Investor. He's been interviewed on dozens of investing websites/podcasts and he's been seen in Barron’s Magazine, SmartMoney, and various other financial publications. Kirk currently lives in Pennsylvania (USA) with his beautiful wife and three children.