Turtle Trading EA 1.0

Metatrader (MT4/MT5) Expert Advisor

"You could publish the turtle trading rules in the newspaper and no one would follow them"
- Richard Dennis
The Turtle Trading EA is a Metatrader4 Expert Advisor that implements the original Richard Dennis and Bill Eckhart trading system, commonly known as The Turtle Trader.
  • Trade exactly like the original Turtles did
  • Make sure to capture all big market movements
  • Follow trends to the end and profit in up or down markets
  • Get home run returns applying a proven trend following system
  • An unmatchable semi-automated companion for experienced traders
Benefit from a fully automated trading system that needs little or no attention from you: just pick your diversified portfolio and forget about it.
  • Fully automated trading 24/5
  • No previous trading skills required
Enhance your trading activity or investment portfolio with a sound trend following approach, just like our customers have already done.



Who were the Turtle Traders?

The Turtle Trader legend began with a bet between American multi-millionaire commodities trader, Richard Dennis and his business partner, William Eckhardt. Dennis believed that traders could be taught to be great; Eckhardt disagreed asserting that genetics were the determining factor and that skilled traders were born with an innate sense of timing and a gift for reading market trends. What transpired in 1983-1984 became one of the most famous experiments in trading history. Averaging 80% per year, the program was a success, showing that anyone with a good set of rules and sufficient funds could be a successful trader.

In mid-1983, Richard Dennis put an advertisement in the Wall Street Journal stating that he was seeking applicants to train in his proprietary trading concepts and that experience was unnecessary. In all he took on around 21 men and two women from diverse backgrounds. The group of traders were shoved into a large sparsely furnished room in downtown Chicago and for two weeks Dennis taught them the rudiments of futures trading. Almost every single one of them became a profitable trader, and made a little fortune in the years to come.

The entry strategy

The Turtles learned two breakout variants or "systems". System One (S1) used a 20-day price breakout for entry. However, the entry was filtered by a rule that was designed to increase the odds of catching a big trend, which states that a trading signal should be ignored if the last signal was profitable.

But this filter rule had a built-in problem. What if the Turtles skipped the entry breakout and that skipped breakout was the beginning of a huge and profitable trend that roared up or down? Not good to be on the sidelines with a market taking off!

If the Turtles skipped a System One 20-day breakout and the market kept trending, they could and would get back in at the System Two (S2) 55-day breakout. This fail-safe System Two breakout was how the Turtles kept from missing big trends that were filtered out.

The entry strategy using System Two is as follows:

  • Buy a 55-day breakout if we are not in the market
  • Short a 55-day breakout if we are not in the market

The entry strategy using System One is as follows:

  • Buy a 20-day breakouts if last S1 signal was a loss
  • Short a 20-day breakouts if last S1 signal was a loss

The Turtles calculated the stop-loss for all trades using the Average True Range of the last 30 days, a value which they called N. Initial stop-loss was always ATR(30) * 2, or in their words, two volatility units. Additionally, the Turtles would pile profits back into winning trades to maximize their winnings, commonly known as pyramiding. They could pyramid a maximum of 4 trades separated from each other by 1/2 volatility unit.

The exit strategy

The Turtles learned to exit their trades using breakouts in the opposite direction, which allowed them to ride very long trends.

The exit strategy using System Two is as follows:

  • Exit long positions when the price touches a 20-day low
  • Close shorts positions when the price touches a 20-day high

The exit strategy using System One is as follows:

  • Close long positions if/when the price touches 10-day low
  • Close short positions if/when the price touches a 10-day high
Money Management

The initial risk allocation for all trades was 2%. However, aggressive pyramiding of more and more units had a downside: if no big trend materialized, then those little losses from false break-outs would eat away even faster at the Turtles' limited capital.

How did Eckhardt teach the Turtles to handle losing streaks and protect capital? They cut back their unit sizes dramatically. When markets turned around, this preventive behavior of reducing units increased the likelihood of a quick recovery, getting back to making big money again.

The rules were simple. For every 10 percent in drawdown in their account, Turtles cut their trading unit risk by 20 percent. This of course applies for bigger numbers: the unit risk would be decreased by 80% with a 40% drawdown!

What to trade

What you trade is critical. It may just be the most important issue and it is the only discretionary decision you'll have to make. Here is the catch: you cannot trade everything, but you cannot trade only one market either. You need to be in position to be following enough markets that when a market moves you can ride it, as diversification is the only free lunch you get. It allows you to spread your potential targets of opportunity broadly across currencies, interest rates, global stock indices, grains, meats, metals and energies.

Settings and Input Parameters

When loading the expert advisor to any chart, you will be presented with a set of options as input parameters. Don't despair if you think they are too many, because parameters are grouped into self-explanatory blocks. This is what each parameter does.

Turtle Trading Settings
The original turtles traded two breakout periods with a very especial trading filter: they would ignore a trade if the last signal was profitable. This group of parameters allows you to set your own breakout and stop periods, and to enable or disable the filter at will.
Adding to positions
Once a trade was taken, the original turtles would pile up three more positions on top on the first one, by adding an additional trade every time the market moved in their favor 50% of the ATR. This group of parameters allows you to disable or customise this behavior.
Stop-loss Settings
The initial stop-loss for all trades is, by default, two times the Average True Range. You can set your own stop-loss using this group of parameters.
Money Management
For every 10 percent in drawdown in their account, the turtles cut their trading unit risk by 20 percent. In this group of parameters you can disable this behavior, and customize the common money management parameters.
Frequently Asked Questions
What timeframe should I trade with this Metatrader4 Expert Advisor?
I have loaded the expert into the chart and I don't see anything!
What happens if I change the breakout periods or the stoploss settings?