The basic gist of this form of plaiting is that you don't have to keep the sections separate for any longer than it takes to cross them over each other. The finished result should look like the herring bone pattern you see reproduced on fabric. Here are two variations.
Tools and other items you will need:
1. Covered elastic bands
2. Paddle or similar brush to remove tangles
3. A little hair spray
4. A clip to keep hair not being plaited out of the way
5. Possibly a few pins or grips or odd pin if you have layers to secure any stray bits!
Method 1: (for a single fish tail down the back of the head):
1. Brush your hair through so that it is easily separated with your fingers.
2. Take a section from either side of your face, about 3 cm (or 1") deep, running from sideburns to temple
3. Draw the sections back towards the crown and cross the right section over the left.
4. Using your right hand press the cross over point to the head to hold the hair in place.
5. Use your left hand to pick up a new section from the left side. Take it from under the first section and make it about the same size.
6. Take the new section of hair over the right-hand section and, as you do so, swap to hold the hair down with the left hand at the cross over point. The ends of the sections will naturally fall down the middle and merge with the rest of the hair.
7. With the right hand now free, use it to pick up another new section from the right, cross it over the section from the left, held down in the middle. Again, as you cross over, change the hand that is holding the hair pressed to the head.
8. Simply keep repeating this until you run out of hair. If you get lost, remember that the side from which you last took a section should correspond with the hand holding the hair in the middle. Therefore you are always about to take your new section from the side that the free hand is on.
9. As you pass beyond the nape or can no longer take hair from the sides, continue by taking hair from the underneath of your "ponytail" and crossing this hair over at the centre front.
10. Secure at the end with your covered band, it looks good if you use a fine section of hair to wrap over the band to cover it.
Method 2: (for a fish tail braid that starts from a ponytail in the nape of the neck or 'bunches' either side):
This is really simple, especially once you're familiar with method 1 above.
1. Gather your hair as if to place it in a ponytail or 'bunches'.
2. To start, take a section of hair from the left and right and then cross right over left, hold the cross over point in place with the right hand.
3. With the left hand, take a section from underneath and bring it round to the front and cross it over the middle.
4. Hold it pressed to the rest of the hair with the same hand, so freeing up the right hand.
5. Using the right hand, take a section from underneath the ponytail and bring this round to the front from the right side, cross it over the middle and hold in place with the right hand freeing up the left.
6. Keep repeating steps 3,4,5 until you run out of hair and then secure with a covered band.
You can do this either tightly or loosely to get different effects; you do however need long hair if you are going for the loose version, else it will simply unravel.
Plait a fishtail