a sprat to catch a mackerel

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a sprat to catch a mackerel

BRITISH, OLD-FASHIONED
If you describe something you do as a sprat to catch a mackerel, you mean that it involves a small cost or amount of effort but it will bring you great rewards or benefits. Setting a sprat to catch a mackerel, the store is offering in its summer sale a chrome blender for £99 (was £149) to those who spend £50 or more. Note: A sprat is a type of small fish and a mackerel is a larger fish. Both fish may be eaten.
See also: catch, mackerel

a sprat to catch a mackerel

a small expenditure made, or a small risk taken, in the hope of a large or significant gain. British
A sprat is a small sea fish, while a mackerel is rather larger. The phrase has been in use since the mid 19th century and is also found with whale in the place of mackerel .
See also: catch, mackerel

(be) a ˌsprat to catch a ˈmackerel

(informal) (be) a fairly small or unimportant thing which is offered or risked in the hope of getting something bigger or better: The competition and prize of a free car is a sprat to catch a mackerel. The publicity will mean good business for months to come.
Sprat and mackerel are both types of fish. Sprats are very small.
See also: catch, mackerel
References in periodicals archive ?
Thus, the Patagonian sprat shows a pattern of growth and natural mortality characteristic of small pelagic fishes and can be classified as a fast-growing species with a short lifespan.
The West Country Whitebait Fillets are an innovative product which utilises Sprats caught locally from the shores of Devon and Cornwall.
A small fleet of UK sprat fishermen is dedicated to ensuring a sustainable supply of sprats.
Husband and wife Martin and Linda Sargent who both volunteer at the centre, decided to take Sprat in.
The fishing party's report said: "Six months on Taransay and we've not caught Jack Sprat.
Ben tried a sprat and Jeff with the cut-off tail of a mackerel.
Thus Thomas Sprat worried that astrology "withdraws our obedience from the true Image of God [and] affects men with fears, doubts, irresolutions, and terrors.
The Rehearsal (1671) was a burlesque satire of Dryden, written with Thomas Sprat (1635 - 1713) and the 2nd duke of Buckingham (George Villiers), among others.
8 thousand tons, which is associated with a decrease in the production of sprat and other fishery items.
Sprat: The Commission proposes to reduce the TAC for sprat by 11%, to 222,102 tonnes.
Fishing opportunities for turbot will be reduced and the status quo maintained for sprat under the European Commission's proposal, adopted on 3 December, for fishing opportunities (total allowable catches or TACs) for EU-flagged vessels operating in the Black Sea.
Jack Sprat and his missus approaching at one-o''clock.
It goes to show Lough Foyle must be very rich in plankton, sand eels and sprat.
The EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council will increase the cod-fishing quota for Estonia in the Baltic sea while reducing the Baltic herring and sprat quota, reports LETA.