What Is the Iron Butterfly Strategy?

  • 25-Aug-2023
  • 2 mins read

The iron butterfly is a distinct and intriguing options trading strategy that demands comprehension. Once grasped, its execution becomes more manageable with practice.

This technique involves various exclusive trading strategies inherent to options, with the iron butterfly being a notable example. Understanding its fundamentals is crucial, and proficiency comes through practical application.

This post will simplify the iron butterfly option strategy and explain when to use it. Whether you’re a first-time or experienced investor, this strategy could be effective.

What is the Iron Butterfly Strategy?

The iron butterfly strategy is a method used in the stock market where an investor buys and sells options at the same time. This technique is used when an investor expects the stock’s price to remain fairly stable.

Here’s how it works:

  • Sell a call and a put option with matching expiration dates.
  • Buy a call option with a higher strike price and a put option with a lower one.

The goal is to profit from low volatility. If the stock stays within a specific price range, the investor can gain a potential profit.

To execute the iron butterfly strategy, follow these four trades:

  1. Buy a Put Option at Strike Price AA
  2. Sell a Put Option at Strike Price BB
  3. Sell a Call Option at Strike Price BB
  4. Buy a Call Option at Strike Price CC

In this strategy, the chosen strike prices, AA, BB, and CC, are equally spaced and arranged in ascending order. For instance, for a clearer understanding, let’s consider strike prices of Rs 200, Rs 300, and Rs 400. This arrangement will be further elaborated upon through an illustrative example.

This method marries two separate trading spreads: a bull put spread and a bear call spread, creating a multifaceted four-step plan for trading. The idea is to benefit from a stock that’s expected to remain stable in price.

When Should You Use an Iron Butterfly?

The Iron Butterfly strategy is a mix of two strategies, straddle and strangle, meant to limit risks and produce small profits. It involves buying and selling four options at different prices. But watch out for trading costs and pick a broker wisely.

This method is good for generating income, not huge profits. Choose stocks with high trading volumes, at least 500k daily, and avoid low liquidity.

Make sure there’s enough interest in the options; between 200 to 500 is good, but 500 or more is better. This helps ensure you can easily buy or sell when needed.

Pros of the Iron Butterfly Strategy

The Iron Butterfly strategy offers several advantages:

  • Limited risk: One of the standout features of the Iron Butterfly strategy is its clearly defined and manageable risk. The most you can lose is the initial expense of establishing the strategy, which is the total net premium paid or received for the options contracts.
  • Limited Profit Potential: Similarly, the maximum profit potential is also capped. This occurs when the underlying asset’s price remains within a specific range, allowing all the options contracts to expire worthless. This is advantageous for traders who prefer a defined profit potential rather than relying on the unlimited profit potential of some other strategies.
  • Optimal for Stable Markets: The Iron Butterfly shines in conditions where the market is expected to be stable. This strategy thrives in low-volatility situations and can yield profits when the asset maintains a consistent price range.
  • Flexibility in Strike Prices: The strategy involves using both call and put options with different strike prices. This allows for some flexibility in positioning the strategy to accommodate slight market movements without incurring significant losses.
  • Income Generation: If the option premiums received for selling the call and put options are higher than the premium paid for the purchased options, the strategy can result in a net credit. This means the investor receives an upfront payment when establishing the position, which can provide immediate income.
  • Hedging Potential: The Iron Butterfly can also serve as a way to hedge an existing position. For instance, if an investor holds a long position in an underlying asset and wants to protect against potential losses, they can use the Iron Butterfly to create a protective options position.

Cons of Iron Butterfly Strategy

While Iron Butterfly Strategy has its benefits, here are five major cons of the Iron Butterfly strategy:

  • Limited Profit Potential: The potential profit is capped since the strategy involves selling options, which means that if the underlying asset’s price moves significantly, the gains could be limited.
  • High Transaction Costs:Executing an Iron Butterfly strategy requires multiple options contracts, leading to higher transaction costs in terms of commissions and bid-ask spreads.
  • Volatility Risk: The strategy can be vulnerable to changes in volatility. If the market becomes more volatile, it could impact the value of both the purchased and sold options, potentially leading to losses.
  • Narrow Profit Range: The strategy’s profit range is limited to a specific range of underlying asset prices around the strike price. If the asset’s price moves significantly beyond this range, losses can occur.
  • Complexity: The Iron Butterfly strategy involves multiple options contracts and requires a good understanding of how different options components interact. This complexity can make it challenging for novice traders to execute effectively.

Options trading is risky and involves knowledge of the market, strategy, and dangers. Before using any options trading technique, weigh the advantages and downsides.


The iron butterfly strategy is the most effective trading approach that merges a bull put spread and a bear call spread. By utilizing these two spreads, investors aim to capitalise on a narrow range of price movement for a specific underlying asset. This strategy offers potential gains if the asset’s price remains within a set range, providing a simplified way to navigate market fluctuations and potentially achieve profits.


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