RE: Problem with abs
You have to focus your goals toward bulking or cutting. Granted, it's possible to do both simultaneously, but most guys cycle back and forth between bulking and then cutting. When you're bulking, you're growing and must consume more calories than your maintenance level. Cutting is the opposite.
It's typically ideal to bulk first because your metabolisim hikes with additional muscle. Your body requires around 50 cals a day to maintain one pound of muscle. So if you gain 10 pounds of muscle when bulking, when you enter your cutting phase, you will have 500 freebie cals to work with.
So, to answer your question about bulking affecting your body fat, yes it's a possibility that your body fat will increase. If it's in your midsection or elsewhere depends on your genetics.
As to exercises only increasing strength and tone, that's completely untrue. Your abdominal muscles can experience hypertrophy just like any other muscle in your body. Work them with heavy loads and low reps. If you're doing hundreds of crunches, yes, you're just going to tone them. But if you're working your abs to failure with a few sets of 5 to 10 weighted crunches, your abs will grow.