Bear Flag Chart Pattern Trading

A bear flag is a technical chart pattern that occurs when a stock is in a strong downtrend, and it’s used by traders to identify potential short-selling opportunities. The pattern gets its name because it resembles a flag on a pole, with the pole representing the initial sharp decline in price and the flag representing a brief period of consolidation.

Bear Flag Chart Pattern TradingThe bear flag pattern consists of two key components:

1. The Flagpole: This is the initial steep downward move that kicks off the pattern. It’s characterized by a sharp decline in price, often on heavy volume, as sellers aggressively drive the stock lower.  I like to see a flagpole with a decline of at least 15%.

2. The Flag: After the sharp decline, the stock enters a period of consolidation, which forms the flag. This is typically a counter-trend move, meaning the stock may drift slightly higher or trade sideways, but the overall trend remains bearish. The flag is formed by two parallel trendlines that contain the price action.

bear flag chart pattern

The significance of the bear flag pattern lies in its ability to signal a likely continuation of the downtrend. Traders watch for a breakdown below the lower trendline of the flag, which could indicate that the brief consolidation is over and the stock is ready to resume its move lower.

By understanding the structure and components of the bear flag pattern, traders can be better equipped to identify potential short-selling opportunities in strongly downtrending stocks. However, it’s important to note that no chart pattern is perfect, and bear flags should be used in conjunction with other technical analysis tools and risk management strategies.

Bear Flag Example Walk-Through

I didn’t pick a perfect example with a big thrusting downside move because rarely do we see perfection.  Other articles talk about absolutes of the height of rally and VWAP but those have little impact on the success or failure of the bear flag.  You can visually see a lack of buying interest in the rally and that is what we want to see.

bear flag explained

  1. We are getting a steady move down with small-ranging green candles which shows buyers aren’t too interested in defending lower prices
  2. Price begins to rally and the candles that make up the rally, the bearish flag, don’t appear to show much buyer interest so shorts are still in play
  3. Price has begun to break down, with one big move that shows seller interest so we measure the move into the low before the rally
  4. The move from 3 is projected from the high at 2 to give your price target

It’s not the pattern you are trading but the reason the pattern is showing up.

  • Price is moving down with very few buyers stepping in.  Traders on the sidelines are looking to enter and those in short are looking to profit
  • Price rallies and traders that are short, look to take their gains.  Sellers on the sides see their opportunity to short
  • Once the price starts to break down in the bear flag, sellers look to enter.  This is made more interesting when the first leg down is strong

While the sharp action to the downside would be nice and shows strong seller intent:

  • The sharp price action doesn’t always happen in a steady decline
  • Sharp price action can also be an exhaustion move and you’d not be looking to short on the formation of the flag

Once you get the hang of it, the bear flag pattern is fairly simple to trade.


How To Trade The Bear Flag Chart Pattern – 6 Steps

Now that you understand the structure and components of the bear flag pattern, let’s dive into a 6 part step-by-step trading strategy that you can use to capitalize on potential short-selling opportunities.

How To Trade The Bear Flag Chart Pattern1. Identify the Bear Flag: Look for a sharp price decline (the flagpole), followed by a period of consolidation with a slight upward bias (the flag). The flag should be contained within two parallel trendlines and low volume on the rally.

2. Wait for the Breakdown: The key to trading the bear flag is to wait for a breakdown below the lower trendline of the flag. This signals that the consolidation period is over and the stock is likely to resume its downtrend.

3. Enter Short on the Breakdown: Once the stock breaks below the lower flag trendline, enter a short position. This can be done by selling the stock short or by using put options, depending on your trading style and risk tolerance.

4. Set Your Stop Loss: To manage risk, place a stop loss order above the high of the flag. This will help limit your potential losses if the stock unexpectedly reverses course and moves higher.

5. Determine Your Profit Target: A common profit target for the bear flag pattern is a distance equal to the height of the flagpole, projected downward from the breakdown point. For example, if the flagpole measures a $10 decline and the breakdown occurs at $50, the profit target would be $40.

6. Manage the Trade: As the trade unfolds, monitor the stock’s price action and be prepared to adjust your stop loss or take profits if the market conditions change. Stick to your predetermined risk management plan and avoid letting emotions guide your decisions.

How To Trade The Bear Flag Chart Pattern 2

Remember, no trading strategy is perfect, and not every bear flag pattern will result in a successful trade. It’s crucial to use proper risk management techniques and to always protect your capital. By combining the bear flag pattern with other technical analysis tools and maintaining discipline, you can increase your chances of success when short-selling in a down-trending market.stock chart flag

  1. Obvious sellers here and the price breaks down.  We do see a push-up with momentum that is immediately wiped out
  2. Price finds support after breaking down and begins to rally.  Notice the candlesticks and the lack of strong upside momentum in this bear flag formation
  3. This is a previous range where we have a string of inside candles.  Price has rallied into that zone and stalled
  4. After the price has broken down, this line is the length of the flag pole projected from the highest point in the flag

By using a price structure such as a range, we have a zone where prices had previous seller/buyer battles.  Those are always a good place to look for another trading opportunity.



The bear flag pattern is a valuable tool for traders looking to identify potential short-selling opportunities in a downtrending market. By understanding the pattern’s structure, consisting of the flagpole and flag, traders can recognize when a stock is likely to continue its move lower.

To trade the bear flag pattern effectively, it’s essential to wait for a breakdown below the lower flag trendline, enter a short position, set a stop loss above the flag high, and determine a profit target based on the flagpole’s height. However,  remember that no chart pattern is foolproof, and risk management should always be a top priority.

As with any trading strategy, success with the bear flag pattern requires practice, patience, and discipline. It’s important to start by identifying bear flags on historical charts and then gradually move on to demo trading before risking real capital. By combining the bear flag pattern with other technical analysis tools and maintaining a continuous learning mindset, traders can increase their chances of success in the markets.

Author: CoachShane
Shane his trading journey in 2005, became a Netpicks customer in 2008 needing structure in his trading approach. His focus is on the technical side of trading filtering in a macro overview and credits a handful of traders that have heavily influenced his relaxed approach to trading. Shane started day trading Forex but has since transitioned to a swing/position focus in most markets including commodities and futures. This has allowed less time in front of the computer without an adverse affect on returns.