These fishtail braid styles will keep you looking good from the beach to the ballroom. Here are 40 fun and flirty variations to try now. You’re not alone if you’ve ever felt “hair envy” after seeing a fluttery, pillow-soft braid cascading down someone’s back.
So naturally, we all want to rock the fishtail braid. It’s a showstopping, structured piece of art that grew in popularity around the 2010s. The fancy yet carefree braid is an offshoot of the traditional french braid, and it’s just as iconic.
However, it adds some flirtiness and can elevate an evening gown or go perfectly with a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. Beyond its visual versatility, the fishtail braid can be achieved with minimal effort, despite its complicated look. To get you inspired, here are some phenomenal fishtail designs.
Pick your favorite from this assortment of to-die-for fishtail braids.
1. Seashell Fishtail Braid Style
This maiden fishtail bun resembles the swirly seashells we often stumble upon while walking down the beach. The structure is incredible, and each of the two fishtail braids falls into one another without skipping a beat.
It looks like an optical illusion, creating the impression of three braids rolled into one. To pull this off at home, you’ll need to know how to braid two fishtails. You’ll also need some strong bobby pins and, of course, decorative jeweled hearts.
2. Wavy Low Bun Fishtail Braid Style
Beach waves and fishtail braids are closer than identical twins. There’s a reason behind it, though. Most fishtail braids are accompanied by curls because textured hair makes for a better canvas. The waves and curls act as an extra layer of structure, allowing the stylist to manipulate the hair into magnificent shapes.
This low bun is perfect for any formal occasion. Add a few pearls at the sides if you want a royal touch. Leave your front hairs loose and wispy for the whole fairy effect.
3. French Roll Fishtail Braid Style
This hairstyle might make you hungry for a hot, buttery french roll. The bun at the back is smoothened out and taut, just like a classic french roll. This hairstyle became popular in the 1950s straight into the 1970s as the go-to style for formal events.
Today, it’s been modernized with an accompanying fishtail braid at the side. It’s a simple but elegant statement, so save this for your next wedding or black-tie event.
4. Messy Layered Fishtail Braid Style
Sometimes you just wanna chill. This laid-back, messy fishtail is perfect for a cozy day indoors. Surprisingly, this will only take a few minutes. Just whip your hair back and follow our simple instructions below.
Start with a loose grip at the top, and tighten as you go down the hair shaft. You can add some razzle-dazzle with these pearl-encrusted hair clips. All you need is your favorite sweater and a hot mug of cocoa.
5. Combination of French Fishtail Braid Style
The french braid is often compared to the beloved fishtail, mainly because they mimic each other in shape and popularity. Here we get the best of both worlds with a french braid crowing the head before morphing into a large, fluffy fishtail. The red hair adds additional shine and silkiness and creates a breathtaking, regal hairstyle. You can add a festive hairpin for a seasonal party like this one.
6. Tousled Curly Fishtail Braid Style
Curls and waves steal the show again for this tousled, unstructured fishtail braid. The front is uniform and clean, creating a strong contrast with the bottom, which is fun and carefree.
To generate the marshmallow puffs, create large hair sections while braiding, then tug on them until they’re double in size. Next, you can attach your bangs to the ponytail or let them flow against your forehead. Finally, to create height at the top, use some strong hold hairspray.
7. Charming French Fishtail Braid Style
Short and sweet, this simple but charming french bun fishtail is a delight to look at and easy to create. Just braid a simple three-strand french braid at the top.
Once you go past the nape of your neck, start the fishtail braid. Afterward, wrap the ponytail into a circular bun, and secure the ends with a bobby pin. If you have highlights, you’ll look twice as beautiful. The colors weave in and out of your braid, creating motion and visual contrast.
8. Woven Halo Fishtail Braid Style
This hairstyle is simply angelic. Your heavenly strands will lay against your back in a waterfall formation while this horizontal fishtail halo acts as drapery. At first glance, you might think it’s complicated, given the twist effects at the center of the braid.
To get that effect for yourself, braid two fishtails, each starting at the opposite side of your head. Once they meet, tuck one underneath the other, and cover up the continuation with hair from the crown of your head. Finally, curl the ends for a subtle bounce.
9. Double Pearl Fishtail Braid Style
If there was a Super Bowl for hair, this would definitely be in the finals. It’s beyond comprehension how someone can pull this off with precise parting, structuring, and measurement. The hair colors deepen the natural shadows created by the raised hair in each braid.
It looks like a bottomless abyss of textured trees at the root. The jewels defy gravity as they float between each section. If you can do this by yourself, you’re a genius. Period.
10. Freeform Fishtail Braid Style
After such a structural showstopper, it’s time to tone things down with this fun, free-form version. It will work with either long or short hair, and you can quickly whip it up if you need something that’s glam on the go. It’s also an excellent option for kids who don’t like sitting still for too long.
Finish off the ends with some loose beach wave curls. You’ll need a large curling wand or flat iron to create these voluminous curls.
11. Multi-Colored Fishtail Braid Style
Color changes everything. This simple straight-back fishtail braid has been transformed by a beautiful, luscious dye job that any professional stylist would love to have in their portfolio. The colors mingle together to form an iridescent feast for the eyes.
The soft curls add that extra oomph without stealing the show. Try tape-in or clip-in extensions if you want this look but are worried about hair damage from a strenuous dye process. You can dye them whichever color you want and let your natural hair stay safe.
12. Distressed Side Fishtail Braid Style
Side-swept hairstyles always add a touch of femininity, framing your best side. You can do the same with a distressed side-part fishtail. This is great for a one-day event, as side fishtails tend to unravel rather quickly due to the weight being predominantly on one side.
Try some jeweled bobby pins if the style is too simple for you. You can either buy some or make your own with hot glue, durable hairpins, and any crystal.
13. Curled Updo Fishtail Braid Style
Try this ringlet-fishtail combo if you’re looking for a little bounce in your life. Start each braid at the midpoint of your temples and work backward until they meet in the middle.
You can hide the ponytail ends by curling them into tight ringlets. This style hides any clip-ins or wefts perfectly if you’re using hair extensions. You can line the extensions underneath the fishtail braid.
14. Elaborate Bow Fishtail Braid Style
Here is a stunning example if you’ve never seen hair art before. It’s so exquisite; it should be in a high-end museum. While most people use bows made out of ribbon, this style uses your hair as the accessory and the main show.
The fishtail shares the stage with this bubble bow-shaped centerpiece that falls delicately towards the tailbone. Each fishtail braid adorns the sides before melting into a bubble. You will need a lot of hair if you pull this off. Either that, dye some extensions to match your natural color, and pre-make the bows before attaching them with a clip or pin.
15. Curl-Infused Fishtail Braid Style
Who says curly girls can’t wear fishtail braids? In fact, the general rule for fishtail braids is; that the curlier the hair, the better. You don’t have to worry about adding extra texture if you’ve got hair like the one above or curlier.
You won’t need a curling wand or flat iron to create volume. Just let your natural tresses do the heavy lifting. If you want a neater braid, take the naturally parted sections of your hair, a.k.a, each clump of curls, and use that as a measuring tool for the thickness of each section.
16. High Ponytail Fishtail Braid Style
This fishtail is high-strung and elegant. The various sizes throughout the ponytail give us variation, playing with different shapes and volumes. It’s perfect for anyone with short hair who wants to feel the magnificence that a fishtail braid brings.
Simply attach some human hair bundles to the ponytail base and start braiding. Make sure you buy bundles that are twice your desired length. The ponytail’s position at the top of your head and the braiding will significantly shorten the hair, making room for both.
17. Woven Tapestry Fishtail Braid Style
This hairstyle borrows the mastery of woven tapestries from hundreds of years ago to create a new art form. Who knew hair could be manipulated in such a way? From the infinity french braids to the structured rope braids down the middle, it screams a skilled craftsperson. Each circle incorporates the surrounding hair into the center braid.
If you’re feeling inspired, try a more straightforward version by braiding several smaller french braids and using those to create one giant fishtail braid. Need we say more? It’s the Michelangelo of braiding styles.
18. Infinity Pattern Fishtail Braid Style
Infinity loop braids are a great way to get a polished hairstyle without putting in too much effort. They look complex, but all you’re doing is bringing two sections of hair from opposite sides together, tying them with a rubber band, and tucking the ends behind the next looped set. You can cover the elastic bands with extra hair from each section for a seamless structure that will keep people guessing.
19. Hidden Curls Fishtail Braid Style
If you love fishtail braids but don’t want to make them the center of your style, this look is for you. You can use the fishtail braid as an accessory to the overall curly style. Thanks to the blonde and brown highlights coordinating perfectly with each braid section, the fishtail is almost invisible. To blend the braid even further, tug at some of the units.
20. Bubble Bow Fishtail Braid Style
If you thought the bubble ponytail was gorgeous, take a look at this bubble fishtail braid. It’s brilliant. You might not believe it, but this is a pretty simple style to pull off. So let’s break it down. First, you’ll need to slick your hair into a high ponytail and part the ponytail into three sections.
The two sections on the left and right will be braided in a simple french braid formation, while the hair in the middle will be braided as a neat fishtail. Once you’re done, add a bow every three inches. Bam, you’ve got a breathtaking look. Just like that!
21. Warrior Crown Fishtail Braid Style
All hail the queen of fishtails! With this gravity-defying, elevated fishtail crown, you’d be ready to ride into battle, sword and steed at hand. If this hairstyle makes you want to watch Game of Thrones, it’s done its job.
From the five fishtail braids at the top to the horizontal snake braids at the center, this is one brown that will not quickly be shattered. To give your eyes a break from the detailed patterns, take a look at the simple but eat french braids nestled between the loose hair at the bottom. We ride at dawn!
22. Beautiful Bobby Pin Fishtail Braid Style
A simple fishtail braid can be the one element you need to take your side-part bun from drab to fab in minutes. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to have long natural hair to pull a fishtail braid off. Instead, you can use some handy extensions.
Go for the synthetic version if you’re on a budget. Then, add a punch of texture and dimension with some thick, durable bobby pins. They’re twice the size of regular ones and come in various colors and meals. These copper babies are just what you need.
23. Loose & Laidback Fishtail Braid Style
Sometimes it pays to be understated and simple. That’s the case with this laidback fishtail braid. This braid only takes up half of your head and gives just enough to look like you really put effort into your hair.
It’s excellent for a campus look that you can put on and forget about for a day or two. Puff the ponytail by teasing it with some hairspray if you want to switch it up for a formal occasion. It’s an old-school method, but it works.
24. Suspended Bun Fishtail Braid Style
This mid-air bun is reminiscent of Princess Lea’s space buns from the Star Wars franchise. It’s simple enough to let the fishtail braid shine and strong enough to incorporate the bottom’s French and Dutch braids. The dark red hair adds a mysterious edge, so you might consider this color when picking your next style.
25. Flower Bouquet Fishtail Braid Style
What’s better than a bouquet of flowers? A bouquet of flowers flowing through your hair, that’s what! This beautiful, messy, thick hair bundle is visually and structurally appealing. You can see it at a farmhouse wedding or even at a prom.
Most hair is gathered towards the middle to create this colossal braid. If your hair isn’t naturally thick, don’t be afraid to add in some micro-beads. They’re nearly invisible and easy to manipulate.
26. Basket Fishtail Braid Style
These basket fishtail braids will take your breath away, especially if you’re installing them. There are over twenty individual fishtail braids working together to form one gigantic braid down the middle, and it’s every bit as complicated and time-consuming as it looks.
If you want a mild version of this look, try braiding three fishtails on each side and joining them towards the middle.
27. Criss-Cross Ladder Fishtail Braid Style
This must’ve been how Rapunzel used her hair as a ladder to get the prince to visit her. The eighty braids at the top are elaborate, but when you add this hair ladder, you’re in an entirely new league of hair athletics.
You’ll need a lot of rubber bands, as they hold the shape of the ladder and create enough tension and structure to support additional hair sections. Where would you wear this style? Anywhere! Though, the grocery store attendants would be pretty shocked.
28. Raised Pigtails Fishtail Braid Style
Pigtails are traditionally worn on children, but this version is both figuratively and literally elevated. It’s a simple puffed braid that trickles off into a loosely curled ponytail. This style will last a few days if you sleep with a scarf. You can tie your scarf against the puffs so that they’ll lay flat upwards. If you want an added layer of softness, you can dye your hair rose gold or any shade of pastel pink.
29. Double Swirl Fishtail Braid Style
This sweet, swirly fishtail braid is the perfect transitional style for anyone who wants something fancy but safe. You can even wear it to work or school. Start the braid at the ¾ mark of your edges and braid towards the center of your head.
Once you reach the midpoint, turn towards the right and finish the braid at the nape. Any extra hair can be stitched into a side bun or hidden underneath the fishtail. Secure it with a bobby in, and you’re finished.
30. Half Up Easy Fishtail Braid Style
As far as fishtails on this list go, this is one of the most straightforward designs. Nothing fussy, just a clean, simple half braid to keep your hair out of your face. The blonde highlights add a pop of light to an otherwise basic style. So if you’re feeling the blonde, go for it. Leave a little hair out once you get to the end of the braid. That way, you won’t struggle to keep the pattern going to the bottom.
31. Bridal Crown Fishtail Braid Style
Here comes the bride! This tousled waterfall fishtail style is perfect for wedding day nuptials. If you’re looking to be an effortlessly chic bride, go for this loose curl, fishtail braid. It combines many classic bridal elements like the halo and wavy hair. You can even do this yourself or have your bridal party help you. Finally, crown your look with a jeweled baby’s breath hairpin.
32. Beach Curl Overload Fishtail Braid Style
If you’re not trying to be a perfect bride, go for this messy bohemian fishtail braid. The beach curls give you a surfer’s edge, and the brown lowlights create a sharp contrast from the blonde. It’s a rebel version of the bridal crown, and there’s twice as much fish braiding detail. You can go super messy and keep a loose grip while braiding. Let the curl structure shine.
33. Butterfly Bubble Fishtail Braid Style
Bright red and full of fluttery wings, this butterfly bubble fishtail braid is what happens when soft motion meets a strong structure. It’s what you’d imagine Princess Merida’s hair would look like if it was swept back and straightened.
Her curls would only make it better. To trick the eye and create more volume, use skinny sections, and add a sticky hairspray that’s light yet textured. You’ll also need your fair share of bobby pins and a sweet butterfly to rest on this crowning glory of hair.
34. Strong Pony Fishtail Braid Style
While the previous style was feathery and flowy, this one is straightforward and robust. It borrows the tight woven style from most twine ropes and doesn’t leave a single strand out. This look is great for anyone who wants their fishtail braid to go the distance.
It can last a week, much like a weave ponytail. Wrap it into a bun at night, or wear a silk bonnet, so the ponytail can move freely as you sleep without getting tangled.
35. Soft Pink Rose Fishtail Braid Style
These fishtail and snake braid hybrids finish soft and delicate, starting out dark and intense. You can see that each braid uses the two-strand fishtail method, yet each strand is woven onto a loop.
It’s a striking, medieval-inspired look that anyone with two-toned hair should try. The black to pink ombre dye makes the mini rosettes more beautiful.
36. Purple Power Fishtail Braid Style
Take advantage of your super long hair by incorporating long, powerful purple streaks. You’ll look like a royal warrior, and you won’t even have to permanently dye your hair. Just use some hair chalk or wax, and you’re ready to slay your enemies. Don’t go overboard with the wax color, as it might get messy. Instead, add enough to create some dimension because the braiding pattern is simple.
37. Lavender Lace Fishtail Braid Style
This silver lavender hair is the perfect backdrop for a chunky, free-form fishtail braid. You can let your dark roots shine through, or dye them gray, for an ashy, muted look. It’s an excellent style for beginners. If it ends up messy, you can say that you were going for a carefree, moody look. This style should take you five minutes, tops. So it’s a great everyday option.
38. Blue Diamond Swirl Fishtail Braid Style
50 shades of blue make this hairstyle a beautiful, ocean-like creation. Each section looks like waves crashing against one another in the middle of the sea. To achieve this look, neatly braid a large fishtail from the side of your head towards the nape.
Then, twist it into a loose bun. The flower pins are both decorative and functional, holding up the thick fishtail braid and creating the raised effect at the crown of the head. Pure perfection.
39. Structured Swirls Fishtail Braid Style
Yet another example of why people with textured hair shouldn’t shy away from the fishtail braid. This is a mountainous, structured style that favors textured hair. If your texture matches the one above, start this style on clean hair.
You’ll be using many products to create the clean, defined sections. The swirl bun at the back is made by pinning the pigtail ends together. If your hair is short, you can use extensions to create this bun.
40. Skyscraper Mohawk Fishtail Braid Style
Rock and roll! This fishtail mohawk is nothing to mess with, and it’s the closest your hair will get to looking like a functional skyscraper. As you can imagine, a lot of hairspray and gel will be needed, so keep that in mind. If you have tight curls, you’ll need to blow dry or flat iron your hair before trying this out. Then, you can lay your edges or leave them bare and let the mohawk be the lead star.
If you’ve got any questions about this trendy style, these answers should demystify the myths and legends behind fishtail braids.
Are Fishtail Braids Hard To Do?
Fishtail braids are beautiful, but they’re pretty intimidating. Especially after you’ve seen some of the architectural masterpieces on this list. It’s easy to write this style off as something for professionals only.
So the question remains. Can anybody really pull off this professional-looking style? Definitely, yes! Is it hard to do? That depends on which fishtail braid pattern you want to emulate. If you’re going for the simple, seamless fishtail braid, you’ll find the method surprisingly simple.
The tightness of your grip and your ability to create clean parts will determine how your braid looks in the end. Voila, easy and elegant!
For the more complex patterns, you’ll need a lot of patience. Some of the structures here are made by talented hair artists who have dedicated years of practice and perfecting their craft. Give them a call if you know an expert braid tech who can pull off the more intricate styles.
If you want to test your resolve and determination, try it yourself. Just know that it can be difficult and contain multiple steps.
What Is The Difference Between Fishtail and French Braids?
You’ll often find fishtail and french braids in the same hairstyle, and some people consider them the same thing. Both braids follow the inward braiding method, meaning you overlap each section over the previous one, while dutch braids follow the outward process, where you tuck under.
Though French and fishtail are similar in that regard, that’s pretty much where the similarities end. French braids are usually cleaner and more structured. They also use three strands, whereas fishtail braids use two sections, alternating by borrowing from each section.
Can You Do A Fishtail Braid On Curly Hair?
Most braiding styles are known for their versatility and inclusivity. You can find braids on all hair types and textures, from bone-straight to thick and curly. So yes, fishtail braids work on curly hair. Though straight hair is ideal for this braid because it allows you to manipulate each section to your liking, a curly version is just as adorable as the ones above.
If you have curly or textured hair, you will have to make sure your sections are more defined. Again, we can see the beautiful curls mingling with the fishtail design. Having curls is advantageous if you love the distressed, fairy-like fishtail braid.
The grooves and curves of each coil move freely through the braid, adding dimension, texture, and volume to an already intricate style. It makes for a brilliant braid that will soon become your fave. So if you’re a curly-haired queen, don’t limit yourself. Go for it!
How Do You Keep A Fishtail Braid Tight?
Fishtail braids are known for their structure, so you can sometimes wonder why yours keeps coming loose after a few hours. They are delicate braids, especially the distressed or messy versions, but they should have some strength.
If you want them to last longer than a day or two, you’ll need a tighter fishtail. It all comes down to the prep work, the tension you create while braiding, and the cleanliness of your sections. You should wait two or three days after you last shampooed your hair.
Freshly washed hair isn’t the best for fishtail braids. You need the natural oils from your scalp to create texture and weigh down your strands. That will give you a better chance at making clean sections.
You also want to pay attention to how much tension you’re creating while parting your hair. Don’t yank the hair, but pull it firmly. It’s less likely to unravel or loosen that way. You should use your pointer finger to cleanly separate each section and hook it to the opposite side.
Let your nail separate the strands. It will act as a comb tooth. Once you’re done, use clear elastic bands to tie the braid bottoms. You can cover the bands with hair, but the band will be a stronger tie than your own strands, so use them.
Is A Fishtail Braid Good For Hair?
Braids are a great way to keep your hair out of the way during the day. They also protect our fragile strands by binding them together to form a substantial section of hair. Nowadays, braids are seen as the ultimate protective style, especially for those who want to grow their hair.
Fishtail braids are not commonly seen as protective, but they’re not terrible for your hair. They’re braids, which means they’ll create efficiency by keeping your hair under control as you go about your day.
In fact, some might consider them healthier than box braids or cornrows because they create minimal tension and utilize your natural hair, though you can add extensions. All in all, fishtail braids are good for your hair if you put in the time to install them the right way.
How Do You Do A Fishtail Braid?
For a simple fishtail braid, you can pull your hair into a low or side ponytail or sweep it back. If you’re a beginner, try a side-swept ponytail. You’ll be able to see your progress in the mirror and redirect any mistakes.
Start on old hair, and split the ponytail into two sections, holding each section with one hand. Take a small area from the outer portion of one section and move it towards the inner part of your other section.
Remember to use the “over method,” similar to the french braiding technique. Then do the same to the other section, adding that strand to the inner portion of the first section. Keep going until you’ve finished the braid. If you need visuals, check out the tutorial below.
Are you a fan of fishtail braids? If so, it’s time to learn how to do one yourself, and this tutorial will teach you, step by step!
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