Turtle Trading System

The Turtle trading system (rules and explanations further below) is a classic trend following system. Using several classic trend following systems, we publish the Wisdom State of Trend Following report on a monthly basis. The report was built to reflect and track the generic performance of trend following as a trading strategy.

The composite index is made up of a mix of systems (similar to the Turtle system) simulated over multiple timeframes and a portfolio of futures, selected from the range of 300+ futures markets over 30+ exchanges that Wisdom Trading can provide clients access to. The portfolio is global, diversified and balanced over the main sectors.

We publish updates to the report every month.

The Turtle Trading System Explained

The Turtle Trading System trades on breakouts similar to a Donchian Dual Channel system. There are two breakout figures, a longer breakout for entry, and a shorter breakout for exit. The system also optionally uses a dual-length entry where the shorter entry is used if the last trade was a losing trade.

The Turtle system uses a stop based on the Average True Range (ATR).

Note that the Turtle concept of N has been replaced by the more common and equivalent term Average True Range (ATR).

Trade Long/Short

This parameter tells Trading Blox whether or not trades in the short direction are to be taken.

Trade if Last is Winner

When this parameter is set to False (unchecked and disabled), Trading Blox looks back at the last entry breakout for that instrument and determines if it would have been a winner, either actually, or theoretically. If the last trade was, or would have been a winner, then the next trade is skipped, regardless of direction (long or short).

The last breakout is considered to be the last breakout in that market regardless of whether or not that particular breakout was actually taken, or was skipped because of this rule. (Trading Blox looks back only at “regular” breakouts, and not Entry Failsafe Breakouts.)

The direction of the last breakout-long or short-is irrelevant to the operation of this rule, as is the direction of the trade currently being considered. Thus, a losing long breakout or a losing short breakout, whether hypothetical or actual, would enable the subsequent new breakout to be taken as a valid entry, regardless of its direction (long or short):

Some traders believe that two large, consecutive wins are unlikely, or that a profitable trade is more likely to follow a losing trade. Trading Blox allows you to test this idea by setting this parameter to False.

Entry Breakout (days)

A trade is entered when the price hits the high or the low of the preceding X-days, as adjusted by the Entry Offset. For example, Entry Breakout = 20 means that a long position is taken if price hits the 20-day high; A short position is taken if price hits the 20-day low.

Entry Failsafe Breakout (days)

This parameter works in concert with Trade if Last is Winner, and is used only if Trade if Last is Winner = False (as is shown in the partial screen shot above).

For example, consider the following set of parameters and values:

With these settings, if a 20-day breakout entry was recently signaled, but was skipped because the prior trade was a winner (either actually, or theoretically), then if the price breaks out above or below the 55-day extreme high or low, an entry is initiated for that position regardless of the outcome of the prior trade.

Entry Failsafe Breakout keeps you from missing very strong trends due to the action of the Trade if Last is Winner rule.

Entry Offset (ATR)

If set to zero, this parameter has no effect. If Entry Offset in ATR is set to 1.0, a long position isn’t entered until price hits the normal breakout price, plus 1.0 ATR. Likewise, a short position won’t be entered until the price hits the normal breakout price, minus 1.0 ATR. Either a positive or negative value can be specified for this parameter. A positive value effectively delays entry until the specified point after the breakout threshold chosen; a negative value would enter before the breakout threshold chosen.

Unit Add (ATR)

This parameter defines the price at which additions to an existing position are made. The Turtles entered single Unit positions at the breakouts, and added to those positions at 1/2 ATR intervals following trade initiation. (Adding to existing positions is often referred to as “pyramiding.”)

Following the initial breakout entry, Trading Blox will continue to add a Unit (or Units, in the case of a large price move in a single day), at each interval defined by Unit Add in ATR, as price progresses favorably, right up to the maximum permitted number of Units, as specified by the various Max Units rules (explained below).

During historical simulation tests, the theoretical entry price is adjusted up or down by Slippage Percent and/or Minimum Slippage, to obtain the simulated fill price. So each interval is based on the simulated fill price of the previous order. So if an initial breakout order slipped by 1/2 ATR, the new order would be moved to account for the 1/2 ATR slippage, plus the normal unit add interval specified by Unit Add in ATR.

The exception to this rule is when multiple Units are added in a single day during a trade in progress. For example, with Unit Add in ATR = 0.5, the initial breakout order is placed and incurs slippage of 1/2 ATR. Several days later, two more units are added on the same day. In this case, the order price of both the 2nd and 3rd Units is adjusted up by 1/2 ATR (to 1 full ATR past the breakout), based on the slippage incurred by the 1st Unit. Ordinarily, in the case where several Units have been added (each on a separate day), the order price of each Unit is adjusted by the cumulative slippage (in N) of all the Units that preceded it on the trade in progress.

Stop (ATR)

This parameter defines the distance from the entry price to the initial stop, in terms of ATR. Since ATR is a measure of daily volatility and the Turtle Trading System stops are based on ATR, this means that the Turtle System equalizes the position size across the various markets based on volatility.

According to the original Turtle Rules, long positions were stopped out if price fell 2 ATR from the entry price. Conversely, short positions were stopped out if the price rose 2 ATR from the entry price.

Unlike the Exit Breakout based stop, which moves up or down with the X-day high or low, the stop defined by Stop in ATR is a “hard” stop that is fixed above or below the entry price upon entry. Once set, it does not vary throughout the course of the trade, unless Units are added, in which case the for earlier units are raised by the amount specified by Unit Add (ATR).

Trades are liquidated when price hits the stop defined by either the Stop in ATR, the Entry Breakout for the opposite direction, or the Exit Breakout (see above), whichever is closest to the price at the time.

In this system the initial entry stop for the trade entry day is based on the order price. This is for ease of placing the stop once the order is filled. Note that the stop is adjusted based on the actual fill price for the following day.

Exit Breakout (days)

Trades in progress are exited when the price hits the high or the low of the preceding X-days as adjusted by the Exit Offset. This concept is the identical to Entry Breakout, but the logic is reversed: Long trades are exited when price breaks out below the X-day low, and short trades are exited when price breaks out above the X-day low.

The Exit Breakout moves up (or down) with price. It protects against adverse price excursions, and also serves as a trailing stop that acts to lock in a profit when the trend reverses.

Trades are liquidated when price hits the stop defined by either the Stop in ATR, the Entry Breakout for the opposite direction, or the Exit Breakout (see above), whichever is closest to the price at the time.

Exit Offset (ATR)

If set to zero, this parameter has no effect. If Exit Offset in ATR is set to 1.0, a long position isn’t exited until price hits the normal breakout price, minus 1.0 ATR. Likewise, a short position won’t be exited until the price hits the normal breakout price, plus 1.0 ATR. Either a positive or negative value can be specified for this parameter. A positive value effectively delays exit until the specified point after the breakout threshold chosen; a negative value would exit before the breakout threshold chosen.

Max Instrument Units

This parameter defines the maximum number of Units that can be held at one time, in any single futures market, or any single stock. For instance, Max Instrument Units = 4 means that no more than 4 Units of Coffee may be held at one time; this includes the initial Unit, plus 3 Units added.

Your Custom Version of this System

We can provide you with a customized version of this system to suit your trading objectives. Portfolio selection/ diversification, timeframe, starting capital… We can adjust and test any parameter to your requirements.

Contact us to discuss and/or request a full custom simulation report.

Get Your Custom Simulation Report

Alternative Systems

In addition to the public trading systems, we offer to our clients several proprietary trading systems, with strategies ranging from long-term trend following to short-term mean-reversion. We also provide full execution services for a fully automated strategy trading solution.

Please click on the picture below to see our trading systems performance.

Trading Systems - Wisdom Trading

CFTC-required risk disclosure for hypothetical results

Hypothetical performance results have many inherent limitations, some of which are described below. No representation is being made that any account will or is likely to achieve profits or losses similar to those shown. in fact, there are frequently sharp differences between hypothetical performance results and the actual results subsequently achieved by any particular trading program.

One of the limitations of hypothetical performance results is that they are generally prepared with the benefit of hindsight. In addition, hypothetical trading does not involve financial risk, and no hypothetical trading record can completely account for the impact of financial risk in actual trading. For example, the ability to withstand losses or to adhere to a particular trading program in spite of trading losses are material points which can also adversely affect actual trading results. There are numerous other factors related to the markets in general or to the implementation of any specific trading program which cannot be fully accounted for in the preparation of hypothetical performance results and all of which can adversely affect actual trading results.