Definition of a sprat to catch a mackerel in English:

a sprat to catch a mackerel

phrase

British
  • A small outlay or risk ventured in the hope of a significant return.

    • ‘He pointed out the police could have arrested him after the handover in the pub car park but Mr Lithman added: ‘Because the police wanted to use him as a sprat to catch a mackerel he now has to pay an inflated price.’’
    • ‘In crude terms, I suppose that one could say that it is a sprat to catch a mackerel, but the message must be got across.’
    • ‘Actually, it's probably a sprat to catch a mackerel since they have plenty more stuff that they haven't made available.’
    • ‘If you use a sprat to catch a mackerel, you make a small expenditure or take a small risk in the hope of a much greater gain.’
    • ‘We will use what we call leverage - using a sprat to catch a mackerel.’
    • ‘Rackshack is offering a sprat to catch a mackerel.’
    • ‘The mobile phone market is a good example of this approach, frequently offsetting the discount on the handset against the profit on its use over an extended contract, using a sprat to catch a mackerel.’
    • ‘Intelligent podcast content can be engineered to drive users to your site/business - a sprat to catch a mackerel in effect.’
    • ‘He wondered if this was a sprat to catch a mackerel with the States only picking up £4.7m against £20m that needed spending.’
    • ‘‘Lenders are only interested in getting your main mortgage business - it's like using a sprat to catch a mackerel,’ he said.’