C Lures, Carl Grist - QLD:

C Lures - Carl Grist -QLD:

'C' Lures were made and developed by Carl Grist in the early 1980's and by late 1982 Carl had developed the shallow 'Cooktown Tiger' as described below. At this time the CL3 changed to a medium trolling lure with long oval bib which also became the bib for the Cooktown Tiger deep in early 83. 

C Lures is an iconic lure that is well recognised with early models now highly collectable. The image right was kindly supplied by Carl and shows some of his earliest models that were available through The Lure Shop including the triple eye bibles that became the forerunner of the ‘Big Eye’c. 1987.

The following is a history of the Cooktown Tiger with extract from the paperwork from 2014 special edition set;

"I remember taking some lures down to Cairns with me to show Jack Erskine in late '82. These were the original CL 0-1-2 & 3 lures I had been peddling around Cooktown for a year or so and Jack was impressed enough to take a plastic Heddon Tiger off the wall. He asked me if I could make a NQ timber version along the same profile lines, but he wanted it built solid. It would be an exclusive for Bransfords. . . .in early '83 I was back to Cairns with the first small batch - about 30 shallow versions. That day Jack named them 'The Cooktown Tiger'. He gave me an order for 100 and my road to full time lure making began." Carl Grist

The original Cooktown Tigers were only made for two years (1983-84) and were rebirthed in late 1984 as a slimmer looking lure with a lower profile, no other owners of C Lures have ever made these lures. Carl's influences upon arrival in Australia in 1969 was fishing with irons for pelagics around Sydney and the south coast. He had a range of lures such as the ABU Hi Lo and Floppy that were left over from his freshwater fishing days in the UK,  after moving north to Queensland these were soon all lost in the waterholes and creeks between Cairns and Cooktown, he started making lures and the first C lure eventually morphed into the CL3.

These lures are two that were shared from Carl's personal tackle box. The 'Prawn' pattern was never officially in the C Lures colour range and was a custom pattern that is rarely seen. Shown is an early hand signed triple eye version.


Carl and Judy Grist started The Lure Shop in Cooktown and set up shop in a small space in the old bakery in 1985 which moved to a bigger shop in the Sovereign Centre in September 1986. The duplicator was completed a year later in 1987. In 1985 Carl saw his first Newell lure, a scorpion and similar to Peter found the theory of hydrodynamics interesting in respect to lure shapes and inspiration for new ideas. 

Below is the original catalogue from The Lure Shop in Cooktown owned by Peter Fooks after buying the business off Carl around 1987/88 that shows the models and colours that were available for the C Lure by mail order. Thanks to Tony Bartlett for the information.
In Fishing World Feb 1987, an article written about 'C' Lures was entitled 'Carl Grist - Lure maker extraordinaire' and outlined the story. At that time Carl was producing 14 models from the 'Baby Tiger' to the 'Special'.
According to the interview with Carl in  Fishing World , after moving to Cooktown in 1978 he was losing so many lures while fishing that he decided to make his own and by 1982/3 had started producing a range of highly effective lures. 
The following photos are from the display that was put together and exhibited by Barry Cross at the 2017 Lure Expo in Ipswich. The display contained many rare hand signed models including some large pelagic style lures that many never knew exist and were confirmed by Carl as being his handiwork. 
Below shows early hand carved models.
C Lure fizzer signed by Carl Grist
Handsigned C Lure poppers 
C Lure early 'Herring' with experimental fin
C Lure bibless next to large pelagic model
C Lure display by Barry Cross at Expo 2017 showing a wide range of rare and early models
An early hand signed model.
Early examples of the CL3 body shape
A few fine examples of early hand signed C Lures made by Carl Grist in the earlier years. Some fine air brushing work and colour/scale patterns on these.
The 'C' Lures business was owned by Carl from 1982 - 1992. Selwyn Wendt bought the business from Carl and Judy Grist in 1992 and the business was sold again  to Bruce and Sharon Rampton who kept it from 1994-1998. It was then sold to Dominic and Cassandra Fry in 1998. Tacspo bought 'C' Lures around 2006. 
Harbord Tackle 1990 catalogue listed 6 models - the 'Cooktown Tiger' (11cm) , 'Baby tiger' (8cm, 10g) in shallow and deep versions , the CL3 (13cm, 20g) the 4 inch 'Big eye , and the 6 inch 'Big eye'. 20 colours (listed as colours 21-40) were available for the Baby Tiger range. Early Carl Grist made lures will have hand signed bibs which Judy signed while later lures will have a 'C' Lure sticker on the underside of the bib.
The 6 inch 'Big Eye' with chromed insert. The earlier versions of this lure were made in small numbers and Carl believes there were approximately 100 made before the insert/eyes were changed from steel to brass before being chromed and survived the salt water better. 
The small article opposite appeared in  Modern Fishing in  April 1991 and gives good backgound information on the Big Eye model.
The C Lure 'Big Eye' was available in 1990 through Harbord Tackle in 12 colours and 2 sizes at a cost of $15.50 for the 6 inch model and $13.20 for the 4 inch model. Twelve colours were available on the CL4 and the Big Eye models. Carl explained the concept behind the design of the chromed eyes which would create a ‘strobe effect’ at different speeds and when dropping deeper and using a ‘vertical jigging’ style of fishing method flash strongly and attract fish.
Stickers were introduced around 1990 as it became too much for Carl's wife Judy to keep hand signing the lures. The stickers were sold with the business in late 1992 to Selwyn who continued using the stickers and attaching them to the underside of the bib. Later runs of stickers ordered by Selwyn will have a thicker font which may help to date lures.
(Left) Close up of hand signed bib showing catalogue code and price.
(Below) Early version of the 'Baby Tiger' in one of the original colours pre. 1990
(Above Top) Examples of C Lures 'Baby Tiger' models in deep and shallow diving models. Hand signed bibs pre. 1990
(Left and below) Example of C Lures sticker found on the bibs after 1991. There are also two sizes of stickers that were used with the smaller version sometimes ending up on a larger lure as shown. This was pointed out while putting the display together for 2017 Expo
(Above) Example of C Lures sticker found on the bibs after 1991.
(Below) Later 'sticker bib' versions made by Selwyn Wendt c.1993-94.

(Below) is an extract from Harbord Tackle catalogue showing Carl Grist's 'Baby Tiger range of colours c. 1990. Also is some of the colour templates and samples with corresponding numbers to the catalogue such as colour 30 which is the 'Bleeding Mullet' pattern. C Lures were only ever sold at Harbord Tackle for one year and 'Harbord was by no means the full colour range' C. Grist, 2017. The C Lure colour range was in excess of 200 different and customised patterns.

Bruce Rampton a.k.a 'The Teacher' explains several years ago on the Lure and More forum; 
 ' Barra Pros were developed by me while we had the business. An easy way to tell the difference between our lures and later models was ours were a slimmer and sometimes smaller lure. This was mainly aesthetic to give them a professional finish and look. They will have a small nose and not a cut off appearance. I started pinning the bibs after anglers were complaining that a fellow North Queensland makers bibs were pulling out on trophy fish - I reckoned that nobody was going to accuse me of losing their fish of a lifetime. Anyway I noticed soon after Terry Leadbeater also started pinning his bibs so he was obviously thinking the same.'The Teacher( C Lures 1994 - 1998).
                                 Below shows the C Lure card after Dominic Fry took over the business - the model is the 'Small Fry'  
A conversation with Carl Grist in early January 2014 explained his decision to release a '30th Anniversary Set' - 30 sets of two early 'Cooktown Tigers' to celebrate the beginning of 'C' Lures as a business back in 1983. Apart from having a renewed interest in carving timber again, Carl was encouraged by Barry Cross and others to create a set for the collector market.
After much consideration Carl started carving again seriously in 2013 to produce the 'Cooktown Tiger' pair in five of the original colours. The lures were painted with the vertical stripes as opposed to the diagonal stripes. This was the original stripe pattern on the very early models that Carl shaped up and painted thirty years previous. Set 15 was frog green and was donated to raise funds for the Lure Lovers forum. Boxes were made by Ollie Hardt from Ollies 'Stingray' Lures. See more photos and details in the Special Releases section.

Below is an extract from an article in Modern Fishing, May 1986 entitled ''Grist Lures - Works of Art'' written by Vic McCristal.