Best Alligator Indicator Settings

Best Alligator Indicator Settings
Best Alligator Indicator Settings

What is Alligator Indicator?

The Alligator Indicator is a tool in the realm of forex trading, designed to assist traders in identifying the prevailing trend and potential entry points in the market. Developed by legendary trader Bill Williams, this technical analysis tool employs a unique combination of moving averages to provide a comprehensive view of the market’s direction.

The Alligator Indicator consists of three lines, each representing a distinct moving average with specific parameters. These lines are named the “Jaw,” “Teeth,” and “Lips,” mimicking the characteristics of an alligator’s mouth. The Jaw is the slowest-moving line, followed by the Teeth, and finally, the Lips is the fastest.

Traders use the Alligator Indicator to decipher market trends and momentum. When the three lines are tightly interwoven, it suggests that the market is in a state of consolidation or ranging. On the other hand, when the lines diverge, with the Jaw at the bottom, followed by the Teeth and Lips, it indicates a strong trend in the respective direction.

Alligator Indicator - Overview
Alligator Indicator – Overview

Components of the Alligator Indicator

Jaw (Blue Line)

  • The slowest-moving line, typically a 13-period Smoothed Moving Average (SMA).
  • Represents the “sleeping” phase of the market, akin to the closed jaw of an alligator during periods of consolidation.

Teeth (Red Line)

  • The next in speed, usually an 8-period Smoothed Moving Average.
  • Reflects a transition phase in the market, comparable to the alligator beginning to open its mouth.

Lips (Green Line)

  • The fastest-moving line, typically a 5-period Smoothed Moving Average.
  • Represents the “hungry” phase of the market, akin to the alligator’s mouth opening wider, signifying a strong trend.

Key Principles of the Alligator Indicator

Trend Identification

Trend Confirmation

  • A bullish signal occurs when the Lips (green) crosses above the Teeth (red) and Jaw (blue), indicating a potential uptrend.
  • A bearish signal is generated when the Lips crosses below the Teeth and Jaw, suggesting a potential downtrend.

Trend Strength

The wider the gap between the three lines, the stronger the trend is considered to be.

Market Entry and Exit Points

  • Traders may consider entering a trade when a confirmed trend is identified.
  • Exit signals can be generated when the Lips crosses the Teeth in the opposite direction of the established trend.

Practical Application

Consolidation vs. Trending Markets

Helps traders distinguish between periods of consolidation and trending markets.

Risk Management

Provides insights into the strength of a trend, aiding in risk management decisions.

Trade Timing

Offers potential entry and exit points based on crossovers and the relative position of the three lines.

Best Alligator Indicator Settings

Best Alligator Indicator Settings - Parameters
Best Alligator Indicator Settings – Parameters

The Alligator Indicator, developed by Bill Williams, is a versatile tool used in forex trading to identify trends and potential entry/exit points. While there is no universally “best” setting for the Alligator Indicator, traders often experiment with different parameters to suit their trading strategies and preferences. The default settings, as suggested by Williams, are a 13-period Smoothed Moving Average (SMA) for the Jaw (blue line), an 8-period SMA for the Teeth (red line), and a 5-period SMA for the Lips (green line).

Considerations for Alligator Indicator Settings

Default Settings

  • Jaw (Blue Line): 13-period SMA
  • Teeth (Red Line): 8-period SMA
  • Lips (Green Line): 5-period SMA

Timeframe Considerations

The choice of settings can be influenced by the trading timeframe. Shorter periods may be suitable for day trading, while longer periods may be preferred for swing or trend trading.


Traders should adapt the settings based on the market conditions and the currency pair being traded. It’s not uncommon for traders to experiment with different combinations to find what works best for a specific instrument or timeframe.

Trend Sensitivity

Smaller settings (shorter periods) make the indicator more sensitive to price movements, potentially providing early signals but also generating more false signals. Larger settings (longer periods) make the indicator less sensitive but more reliable.

Backtesting and Optimization

Traders often use historical data and backtesting to assess the performance of different settings. Optimization involves testing various combinations to find settings that historically performed well.

Market Volatility

Consider the overall volatility of the market. In highly volatile markets, shorter settings may be more responsive, while in less volatile markets, longer settings might be suitable.

Example Adjustments

Short-Term Trading (Day Trading)

  • Jaw: 8-period SMA
  • Teeth: 5-period SMA
  • Lips: 3-period SMA

Medium-Term Trading (Swing Trading)

  • Jaw: 21-period SMA
  • Teeth: 13-period SMA
  • Lips: 8-period SMA

Long-Term Trading (Trend Following)

  • Jaw: 34-period SMA
  • Teeth: 21-period SMA
  • Lips: 13-period SMA

Practical Tips


Once a set of parameters is chosen, it’s often advisable to stick with them to maintain consistency in analysis.

Best Alligator Indicator Settings Pros & Cons


  • Trend Identification: The Alligator Indicator, when configured with suitable settings, tries to help traders identify trends in the market accurately. This aids in making informed decisions about entering or exiting trades.
  • Visual Clarity: The three lines of the Alligator Indicator provide a visually clear representation of market conditions. Traders can quickly interpret the relationship between the lines to assess the current state of the market.
  • Adaptability to Timeframes: Traders can adapt the Alligator Indicator to different trading timeframes, making it versatile for various trading styles, including day trading, swing trading, and long-term trend following.
  • Confirmation of Trends: The Alligator Indicator not only identifies trends but also confirms their strength. The widening or tightening of the three lines can try to provide insights into the momentum behind a trend.
  • Simplicity: The Alligator Indicator is relatively easy to use, especially with default settings. This simplicity makes it accessible to both novice and experienced traders.


  • Lagging Nature: Like many trend-following indicators, the Alligator is inherently lagging. It might not provide signals as quickly as some traders would prefer, potentially causing them to enter or exit positions later than optimal.
  • False Signals: Depending on market conditions and settings, the Alligator Indicator may generate false signals, especially during periods of consolidation or low volatility. Traders need to be cautious and confirm signals using technical or fundamental analysis.
  • Subjectivity in Optimization: Determining the “best” settings is somewhat subjective and may vary from trader to trader. What works well for one currency pair or timeframe may not be as effective for another.
  • Market Sensitivity: Settings that are too sensitive may lead to overtrading, reacting to minor market fluctuations, while settings that are too slow may result in delayed responses to significant price movements.
  • Market Conditions Dependency: The performance of the Alligator Indicator can vary under different market conditions. It may work well in trending markets but be less effective in ranging or sideways markets.


In conclusion, determining the best Alligator Indicator settings involves a careful balance between various factors, including market conditions, trading timeframes, and individual preferences. While the indicator tries to provide a visual and straightforward representation of trends, traders must be aware of both its strengths and limitations.

The Alligator Indicator, with its default settings or customized parameters, tries to serve as a valuable tool for trend identification, confirmation, and potential entry/exit points. Its adaptability to different timeframes makes it versatile for traders with varying strategies. However, traders should exercise caution as the indicator has inherent drawbacks, such as lagging signals and the potential for false indications, especially in certain market conditions.

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