Re: Is there a better hookah? Or is it just preference.
Dunkel is right about the Phunnel bowl. My older style phunnel with a Mod only holds about 10-15 grams of tobacco, though. What your problem is, Matt, is most likely one of 3 things. Your center tube could be clogged. As you smoke (using a traditional bowl with holes on the bottom), juices become less viscous and seep down the stem tube into the water. If the center tube is not thoroughly cleaned every week or so, depending on the amount of sessions, gunk will build up on the inside. You avoid all this wil general cleaning methods though.
Another problem could be, as you stated, your hose. As you smoke, gunk builds up in your hose. At first it is gooey, but over time it dries into a crust. If you allow this to build up for too long, it could completely block airflow, like a clogged artery. A new hose is needed here. To test the hose, blow on one end when it is not connected to the hookah. If air is easily displaced, it is clean enough to use. If you have more resistance then you think you should, you need a new hose. I would recommend a washable one, a Razan or Nammor. Your hose could also have too many different strong flavors left inside it by the grime. The flavor you are smoking will not come through.
The other problem could be an airleak. Your hookah may not be airtight, and you would need to check all spaces.
If you are smoking with your wife and 2 or 3 friends normally, i would recommend a Khalil Mamoon Egyptian. *************, TheHookah, and HookahGuys all carry these Egyptian style traditional pipes, and they will be sure to please you. I would keep it very clean though.
If you smoke with 5 or more normally, i would highly recommend a Multiple hose hookah, the brand being a Mya. These are one of the most mass produced hookahs, but they are very sturdy and easy to clean and carry. You can change the amount of hoses as well whenever you please.
With whatever you happen to choose, I hope you have a wonderful time with your choice! Or choices maybe?