The Editors
Published on May 20, 2021

Braids are all the rage now, and a fishtail braid is one of the most stylish variants to pull off. Although fishtail braiding might look intricate and daunting, it takes just a few minutes and doesn’t require any pro braiding skills.

If you still don’t know how to fishtail braid your own hair, here is a step-by-step tutorial for you. Master a fashionable side fishtail braid, a fishtail braid ponytail and a Dutch fishtail braid to have all the best ‘dos at your arsenal.

How to Fishtail Braid

It is best to learn how to fishtail braid by creating a side braid out of a low ponytail. Not only will it look chic when resting on your shoulder, it will also let you see the process either in the mirror or peeping down.

Step 1: Do a side parting and brush your hair to one side. If you want a cleaner look, without a large loop of hair near your face, twist and pin face-framing layers at the side of your braid.

Step 2: Gather hair into a low ponytail and split hair into two sections. A useful hack for beginners is to tie a ponytail with a disposable elastic and cut it when your braid is ready.

Fishtail Braid Tutorial Step One

Step 3: Hold the two strands in your firsts. Then, push the thumb of one hand into the strand to separate a tiny chunk of hair at the side and bring it away from the strand. Grab this chunk with the thumb and the index finger of another hand to add it to the opposite strand. Then, do the same with another strand. Hold the fists at a distance not to twist the strands.

Fishtail Braid Tutorial Step Two

Step 4: Continue pulling small pieces of one strand and adding them to another one, alternating the strands each time. A common mistake for beginners is to separate too large chunks. Take around one-fifth of your strand; otherwise, your braid will soon resemble just a traditional one or a twist.

Step 5: After you braid a few inches, hold the ends firmly in one hand and pull the loops to make your fishtail braid wider and more voluminous. Then, continue to fish braid the rest of your hair and secure the end with an elastic.

Side Fishtail Braid

Delicate and showy at the same time, side fishtail braid is one of the best fishtail braid hairstyles to style on any occasion.

How to Fishtail Ponytail

When you know how to fishtail, fishtail braiding a ponytail may seem the easiest thing to do. But, since you’ll have to work at the back of your hair now, it still needs some training. Practice by creating a romantic half-up half-down hairstyle with a cute fishtail braid ponytail.

Step 1: Brush your hair over and gather your locks into a classic half-up half-down hairstyle.

How to Start a Half Up Hald Down Hairstyle

Step 2: Tie an elastic. Then, split the hair above the tie into two and pull your tail through the hole. This makes a topsy ponytail – a perfect base for a fishtail braid pony.

Topsy Ponytail as a Base for a Fishtail Braid

Step 3: Split the ponytail into two strands and hold them in your fists, with the thumbs facing down. Alternatively, release one strand and use a thumb and an index finger of a free hand to separate the tiny chunk of hair from the strand and add it to the opposite one. Then, get the strand back into your first and repeat the same manipulation with another strand.

Step 4: Pull the braid to the sides a bit and secure the end of the ponytail with an elastic.

Fishtail Braid Ponytail Hairstyle

You may further enhance the hairstyle by creating two fishtail braids from the chunks of hair near your temples. Thus, bring them into the half-up half-down hairstyle before braiding the tail. A splendid festival hair idea!

How to Dutch Fishtail Braid

Fishtail braid can be also created in a French style, that is, begin at the crown of your head and be braided close to your scalp. If you need to recall the basics, there are our detailed tutorials on how to French braid and how to Dutch braid your hair.

Let us just remind you that the two braids use the same principle of crossing three strands and gradually feeding in new hair from the sides. In a French braid, the strands are crossed above the middle one; in the Dutch variant, the strands are crossed underneath, which makes the braid look raised and a bit detached from the scalp.

You can braid both a French and a Dutch fishtail braid – the difference will be in whether you cross the tiny chunk that you separate above or under the strand to add it to the opposite one. Needless to say, you can do the braid in the middle or at one side to let the fishtail rest on your shoulder.

Step 1: Brush all of your hair to one side and separate a chunk of hair at the front, near your side parting. To start off the braid nicely, separate hair into three strands. Then combine them into two bringing the side strand into one.

Dutch Fishtail Braid Tutorial Step One

Step 2: Holding the strand in your fist, push your index finger inside the stand to separate a smaller chunk at the side (let the thumb help you move it further away from the strand). Use the thumb and the index finger of another hand to grab this chunk together with some new hair from the side underneath the strand it has been part of.

If it is difficult to do, combine a small chunk with the new strand first, then place the remaining hair up or to the side to release your hand and use a free hand to grab new hair from the side. Then, bring the released hair back into your fist.

Dutch Fishtail Braid Tutorial Step Two

Step 3: Follow the same process, gradually feeding new hair. When you have finished braiding near your scalp, hold the braid firmly in one hand and pull the loops to flatten the braid. Continue braiding the remaining hair as a simple side fishtail braid.

Dutch Fishtail Braid Tutorial Step Three

Step 4: Every few inches, stop to pull the loops to the sides. Thus, secure the end with an elastic.

Raised side fishtail braid is seriously chic, so you won’t avoid getting in the spotlight.

Side Dutch Fishtail Braid

Troubleshooting Tips

If the fishtail braid “doesn’t work for you”, here are a few troubleshooting tips that may help:

  • My fishtail braid looks like a normal braid. This may happen if you separate chunks that are too large. The common recommendation of taking a half-inch piece may not work for those with thin hair as this may be eventually half of your strand. Remember to grab not more than one-fifth of the strand.
  • I cannot achieve a beautiful look from Instagram and Pinterest. Unless you have a ton of hair on your mane, you will need to get some clip-in extensions to pull off a really impressive fishtail braid. That’s a common secret behind the impressive photos you might have seen.
  • Hair slips all the time and it is difficult to braid. If you have straight, sleek hair, it will be difficult to braid it. To ease the task, start with an unwashed hair or use a texturising product. Another idea is to crimp your hair: this will add both grip and volume.
  • The braid falls apart after a few hours so I do not risk going out with it. Put in a few bobby pins at the back of your braid so that the loose loops don’t fall apart throughout the day. The flat braid will always be lying on your shoulder, so the bobby pins won’t be visible.

We do hope that our instructions helped you learn how to fishtail braid your hair. A little practice, and you’ll be able to style even more intricate hairstyles with these trendy braids.