My favorite trading tools for e-mini futures: Sierra Chart and Bracket Trader

Between 2002 and 2017, I traded mostly e-mini futures, primarily ES (the S&P 500 e-mini market) and YM (the Dow Jones e-mini market), the latter even more often than the former. Prior to that, I had traded mostly stocks, using, among other methods, a simple method based on fundamental rather than technical analysis. It's an original method that you can still purchase from this site.

In stocks, my positions, usually long, would last days to months. In e-mini futures they were much shorter, minutes, if not just seconds at times. The latter style of trading is often referred to as day trading. Now, that does not mean that you cannot hold your position for hours when day trading. Of course, you can, however you have to close it during the same daily session, whose official hours are deteremind by an exchange, during which you opened it.

I did not have any special tools when trading stocks. I would trade them at two different brokerages, using their platforms for executing trades. I would use mostly online charts, rather basic at that time, for finding good trading opportunities, later on some other software, like Amibroker, which is excellent and very recommended for this purpose, less so for day trading, though.

However, when I switched to day trading e-minis, I chose two tools for this task.

One was Bracket Trader, an interface for TWS (Trading Workstation) of Interactive Brokers. It was one of the first such tools in the trading universe, and, believe it or not, I would never switch to anything else. It's a relatively unsophisticated tool by the standards of what is now available, though it was very sophisticated and way ahead of its competion when launched. Still, it was always good enough for what I needed. More bells and whistles does not always translate into better productivity or results.

The other trading tool I chose for that was Sierra Chart. I was very much impressed by its charts. They look great and I still like them a lot compared to many other charting packages that compete with it. Older or younger ones. Sierra Chart definitely shines here. No wonder then that I stayed with Sierra Chart for those 15 years.

If I decide to go back to trading, I will no doubt be using it for charting again. And perhaps even for executing trades. That's right, Sierra Chart can now also be used as a regular trading platform, that is for placing your trades. I have never used it in this capacity, being accustomed to the trusty Bracket Trader, but it's probably fair to say that it does its job well in this regard.

I am planning on using it more for my trading products. In fact, my flagship trading product, for day trading e-mini futures, a trading course named KING, was created with Sierra Chart in mind, based on its indicators. Sierra Chart has many such indicators; it's safe to say that more than most charting packages I have seen.

There is difference between these two software applications. Namely, Bracket Trader, though a very fine piece of software, works only with Interactive Brokers. Sierra Chart works with many brokers out there, including, of course, Interactive Brokers.

Sierra Chart has a simple-looking site. I actually like that. However, its modest appearance may make some believe that this is not a serious software company. Please do not make this mistake. Appearances can be very deceiving. As a popular saying goes, "you can tell the real man even if he's naked." That is, if you have ever seen one before. In the world dominated by posers, this is becoming harder and harder.

I highly recommend Sierra Chart. I suggest you head to its website, if only to see what a site of a business run by engineers (that is, people who make things that work) looks like. Yes, that's the real deal. If you want to see a site run by marketers (that is, people who sell stuff that may or may not work) you have many more sites to choose from, so you really don't need any help from me.

Posted on June 10th, 2021.