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Unlocking common traps of stock trading in the bear market: The Bear Trap

If you know anything about stock markets, you must know that you can even make money when the markets are falling. But then there are traps that you must avoid.

bear trap

Engaging in stock market trading is often associated with gambling. This inherent uncertainty arises from the inability to predict with certainty whether a security’s price will ascend or descend in the coming weeks, months, or even years.  

Traders have dedicated themselves to studying historical candlestick charts, diligently seeking out patterns to formulate effective strategies. However, even the best traders grapple with a 99% probability factor. In reality, no trader can definitively guarantee a profitable outcome, even when employing the most refined trading strategies. 

Therefore, a prudent approach involves not only mastering these strategies but also gaining insight into the potential pitfalls and traps associated with them. Once traders have this knowledge, they can confidently navigate the market landscape, responding appropriately when confronted with unforeseen challenges. 

In this blog, let us discuss the bear trap and how it unfolds in real market situations. 

You may also like: Your ultimate guide to investing in a bear market

What is the meaning of bull and bear in the stock market? 

Before we delve into the strategy, let us understand the meaning of the terms bull and bear often used in the market. 

Bull Market:

During a bull market, investors hold the conviction that the market’s upward momentum will persist, resulting in a surge in buying activity. Bull markets observe a prevailing sense of confidence, robust economic underpinnings, and a steady increase in employment levels.

Bear Market:

On the contrary, a bear market indicates a prevailing pessimistic sentiment and a downturn in stock values. Investors in this scenario anticipate ongoing declines and might opt for a cautious approach or even sell their holdings. Bear markets typically arise from factors such as economic recessions, political uncertainties, or external unforeseen events.

What is a bear trap?

The bear trap is a market scenario that lures unsuspecting traders into believing that a declining trend will persist, only to see a sudden reversal from the temporary downswing. Traders caught in a bear trap means they experience losses, making it a situation to be approached with caution.

A bear trap chart typically unfolds as follows:

Initial downtrend

The market is in a bearish phase, with a prolonged decline in stock prices. This decline may be due to various factors, such as negative news, economic concerns, or profit-taking.


As the downturn continues, market sentiment turns overwhelmingly bearish. Many traders begin to short-sell the security in the hope of profiting from falling prices.

False rally

At this point, a sudden upward rally occurs, causing stock prices to rise temporarily. This rally may result as a cause of unexpected positive news.

Trapped traders

Traders who were short-selling or planning to profit from the falling market can become trapped during the false rally. They may be forced to cover their short positions or endure substantial losses as the market reverses.

Trap unwinds

After ensnaring unsuspecting traders, the bear trap reveals itself. The market resumes its downward trajectory, often with an increased momentum.

Also read: What is expiry day trading?

Strategies to make money with a bear trap

To steer clear of falling into a bear trap, traders have several reliable options at their disposal. One fundamental approach is to avoid entering into a short position at all when the market shows a down trend (bear chart).

However, there are alternatives to short selling, such as utilising put options or adopting specific measures, particularly in situations with low trading volume, where bear traps tend to be more prevalent.

Here are some strategies to evade a bear trap:

  1. Mind trading volume: Exercise caution when considering short positions, especially when trading volume is noticeably low for the specific investment security. Bear trap risks tend to elevate when trading volume is on the lower side.
  1. Leverage put options: Buying a put option, acts as insurance on the short selling position. This strategy has the advantage of limiting loss as short selling carries the risk of unlimited losses.
  1. Complete avoidance of short positions: As a primary safeguard, some traders opt for completely abstaining from entering short positions. This approach eliminates the risk of falling into a bear trap altogether.

By employing these strategies and staying vigilant about trading conditions, traders can significantly reduce their vulnerability to bear traps in the market.

How to avoid a bear trap?

Here are a few things you can keep in mind when entering a short-sell trade to avoid losses.

risk management

Effective risk management is paramount in protecting your trading account from bear traps. Calculate your position size, set stop-loss orders, and define your risk per trade. 

Even the best traders have a win rate of around 60%, so expect losses. Ensure your risk per trade as a percentage of your account prevents catastrophic losses, e.g., not exceeding 10% in a single day. If facing a bear trap, exit as soon as you reach your max loss. You can re-enter later. Preserving capital is crucial.

Avoid shorting momentum

Bear traps often occur during range expansion. Don’t short into strong upside momentum. Recognise which side controls the market. Institutional buyers take time to establish positions, so avoid shorting during their accumulation.

Bears often miss crucial signs. Shorting on the first red day is common for stocks prone to bear traps. However, intraday action matters. If the stock shows signs of support after a decline, reduce your position. 

Wait for confirmation

Trying to get the lowest price can backfire. Secure the right price by waiting for trends to break. Exiting a trade when it tests a new low with price rejection is a safer strategy.

Also read: How does arbitrage trading work?


In the unpredictable landscape of the stock market, bear traps represent formidable challenges for traders. However, with a comprehensive understanding of market dynamics, disciplined risk management, and strategic approaches, traders can turn these traps into opportunities for profit. 

Remember that success in bear trading requires continuous learning, adaptability, and the ability to recognize and respond to changing market conditions. By mastering the art of bear trading, you can not only safeguard your investments during market downturns but also position yourself to thrive in a dynamic and ever-evolving financial environment.

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