throw a sprat to catch a mackerel

(redirected from they throw a sprat to catch a mackerel)

throw a sprat to catch a mackerel

To expend or risk a small amount of effort or money that has the potential to yield much greater benefits or rewards. A sprat is a much smaller fish than a mackerel, so you use the smaller as bait to catch the larger. When big retailers like them offer cash-back prizes, they are throwing a sprat to catch a mackerel—the money they make from sucking in customers more than outweighs what they spend in actual payouts.
See also: catch, mackerel, sprat, throw, to
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
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